Conducting field sales training - Sales Management

An assessment of sales performance and skills, strengths and weaknesses, and training needs should always be discussed promptly with the particular salesperson involved, and will generally be better received if it can commence with some favorable comment on strengths and good points in techniques and skills. The sales person should be clear that there is a difference between a training audit (and resultant corrective and performance-improving training) and a periodic formal appraisal.

The training audit is based on analysis adjudge at a specific point of time, and is aimed at improving skills and performance over the short term in particular, and the longer term if possible. A formal appraisal will measure performance against agreed standards and objectives and other relevant criteria, based on an overview of all the data and events occurring between appraisals.


Priority training

The field sales manager’s priority is to improve performance by change-creating training in areas of skill and attitude, and it is unlikely to be productive to spend long periods of time lecturing the salesperson on minor matters (in terms of impact on sales results). Field training should normally only focus on from one to three priorities on any visit to reduce the risk of confusion.

Training is a major route to improving sales performance and maintaining high levels of motivation, and needs time.


  • Set time aside for sales team training to a formal programmer.
  • Do not move from one training subject to another until you are satisfied with progress.
  • Work at the pace suited to the trainee.

Time is not the priority in training: the standards you achieve are.

  • Allow plenty of time for practice.
  • Keep a record of training provided and progress made through the programmer.

A training framework

The training framework developed by the field sales managers should take account of:


  • individual differences
  • individual needs of the trainees.

No two salespersons are the same, and therefore they must be recognized and treated as individuals by the sales manager if he or she is to succeed in motivating and training each of them. Table highlights some pointers when training more experienced or less experienced salespersons.

Training must take account of:

  • the salesperson’s understanding and implementation of company policies and strategies
  • the sales manager’s previous experience of the trainee’s
  • abilities to perform job functions
  • existing skill levels
  • rate of assimilation
  • attitudes
  • previous experience of the trainee’s response to training
  • the different mix of needs and motivations of each salesperson.

At the end of this chapter is a useful summary checklist of guidelines for field training that will act as a practical framework for field sales management.

Training feedback

The intention of feedback is to improve or modify performance or behavior. Giving frank, honest and open feedback serves several useful purposes:

  • It lets salespersons see that their line manager is interested in them and their progress in the job.
  • Salespersons recognize consistency in the behavior of their line manager towards them, learn to expect and accept counseling and training, and come to realize that the line manager does not expect perfection, but does expect effort and improvement
  • It helps the salespersons improve semifinals selling situations, and therefore to develop self-improvement programmers.
  • It leads to awareness that changes in behavior and performance improvement lead to greater acceptance, respect and satisfaction exhibited by line managers.
  • It aids maintenance of high morale, as it can, and should, refer to the positive as well as the negative aspects of behavior and performance, with praise being a more common input from line managers than criticism.

A checklist of guidelines for giving training feedback is included at the end of this chapter.

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