02/24/2014 07:54 pm ET Updated Apr 26, 2014

Why Does the Head of Training Never Lose Their Job When Sales Results Are Missed?

"Accountability is good for everyone" Carl Toliver

What is the longevity of a sales leader these days? There are numerous sources available, but most estimate the average tenure continues to decline and is now approximately 19 months. That isn't a lot of time for a sales leader to assess their team, diagnose needed changes, establish new sales process (if needed), and drive business results. For an interesting comparison--a head football coach in the NFL gets four years to do their job.
When I did my research regarding the head of training's average tenure, the search came up empty? There wasn't any data! This role might be the equivalent of working for the government, where you are guaranteed employment.
I am not making light of the critical role the head of training plays. There is significant data that supports the investment in training of salespeople that correlates to better business results. Training is critical to provide the roadmap to ensure an employee understands all aspects of their job and can effectively execute them. But rarely do you find Training jumping into the field with salespeople to really understand what is working and what isn't when the company is not making their numbers. This may be because, for many, they play more of an administrative role (effectively delivering the training) rather than a value-add role (determining that the training is not on the mark).
Companies are looking to reduce the time of on-boarding an employee so they actually have an employee that is productive and contributing. On-boarding a new salesperson is a key metric and can be critical for a VP of Sales trying to turn the ship around. As in the book Good to Great by Jim Collins, we need to get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus as quickly as possible. What role has Training played in that? More importantly, when was the last time Training introduced game changing methodology that drives business results? Have they even tried to quantify the impact of the investment of time and dollars?
As a sales consultant, I cannot tell you the number of times the head of training has mentioned they have standardized on certain selling methodology as if the methodology alone is going to drive results. The question one should ask is if everyone has had the same training and experiences, shouldn't everyone be a top performer?
Here is my main point, if the head of training were held accountable to results, they may not be happy with the status quo and be more open to new methodologies that are different. Although many training departments are excellent at putting on "training events" from course design to delivery vehicles (digital, e-learning, classroom, etc.), they should not own the sales methodology unless they are willing to be held accountable similar to the VP of Sales.
Why? Because they are not the content experts! They are not getting their nose bloodied in the field of battle. When was the last time they carried a bag or been in the field trying to sell something? When have they experienced what really is happening vs. sitting in the office making decisions? When have they been concerned with the end result vs. the training process? They tend to want to say we have "standardized" but haven't taken accountability for actual business results.
Remember, status quo means less work for the training team and more work for the VP of Sales.

How can we make Training accountable for actual business results?