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Practice Schedules: A Perfect Sales Productivity Tool

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Sep 20, 2019

I started this series of articles by relating my experience coaching football to selling.  It is my goal now each week to focus in on one of the 9 football related tools that can be applied to selling.

Our first, the practice schedule, is one of the most important tools used by football teams.  Overall, practice is an essential contributing factor to success on the football field. 


It is important to note that, in football:

  • Understanding your opponent is critical
  • Reviewing practice and game performance is needed
  • A team has to have a solid strategy in all aspects of the game
  • Great athletes must be able to make game time adjustments and decisions
  • And yes, an occasional good bounce can be additive

At the end of the day, however, improving skills, practicing the game plan, and getting feedback from the practice sessions are crucial for success!

4 Minute Practice Makes Perfect Video

But back in the day, before I retired from coaching, we used to have 30 practice sessions before each game.  Each session was at least 2 hours. For every hour on the field, there was at least 1 hour in the classroom and at least 1 hour of film study or playbook study.  This was all for about 8-10 minutes of actual action on the field.

How much time are you spending practicing to improve your sales management skills?  How much time are you spending coaching your people to improve their craft?  And don’t tell me:

  • We hire / I have experienced people
  • We hire adults — we expect them to do what they need to do to get better
  • I’ve been at this for 20+ years, I think I know what I’m doing

Tell that to the greatest coaches of any sport in the game and they will tell you how wrong you are to believe that experience, or years in the profession, means that less time is needed in practice.

Tell that to Tom Brady.

Now let’s talk about practice as a sales productivity tool.

Malcom Gladwell’s oft quoted “10,000 hours” of practice to become expert in a skill may in fact be more of a platitude than a fact.  What appears to be a fact is that there are contributing factors to practice that are connected to competency and eventual expertise in a skill.

One of those contributing factors is a feedback loop“A feedback loop [provides]…the necessary information for adaptive measures to achieve the desired levels of teaching and learning objectives.”  Brunel University Study

At Anthony Cole Training Group, we have delivered workshops and focus on the concept of an ideal week in all of our training programs.  To support the ideal week, we help our clients develop their ideal week.  Within that ideal week is time allocated for practice.  Regardless of the outcome of the "10,000 hours" debate, there is no debate about implementing practice as a requirement to improve a skill or performance across the board.

What should practice look like?

Your practice should include the following sales practice components:  Drill for Skill, Role-Playing and Strategy Development.  To accomplish these exercises, you should have pre and post call checklists as well as phone call scorecards and data from your sales huddles. All of these data points act as ‘video’ of how you or your people are actually performing. Using the data and real time information allows you to make your coaching and practice sessions more intentional.

To find out more about the ideal week and other tools we offer, visit our Sales Productivity Tools resource below:


For those of you that like to do the research on the research:

Practice Makes Perfect – Science Daily

Deliberate Practice – Business Insider

How To Learn any Skill With Your Own Weekly Plan – Kayla Mathews MUO Blog Post



Topics: practice, Sales Enablement, sales practice, creating new sales opportunities, football, sales and sports, practice schedules, selling tools, sales productivity tools

How Sales Enablement Can Streamline Sales Training

Posted by Shawnna Sumaoang on Wed, Aug 15, 2018

In the fast-paced, ever-changing field of sales, it’s no wonder why systematic, repeatable training is important to keep sales reps up-to-date. Since sales reps often need to learn and adapt to the latest sales process, methodology, and messaging, offering timely training is a must. Equally important is the regular distribution of sales training content that is memorable. Without it, learned information will not stay with the seller for long. This kind of meaningful training can come from an effective sales enablement program.

The best sales enablement programs ought to act as a resource that helps reps sell more effectively and efficiently. At their best, these programs save the company a lot of time and money by increasing the productivity of their sales team. They can even lead to more sales, making them not only a money saver, but a money maker as well. Part of what these programs do includes making sure that reps are properly equipped with all that they need to engage leads and convert them into buyers. A great way to do this is by implementing a well-structured, effective sales training program.

The problem is that many sales enablement practitioners typically adopt training methodologies that do not give reps what they actually need. Traditional sales training techniques take the seller away from the buyer, which often prevents them from being as effective as they set out to be. By implementing a more effective sales enablement program, a company can improve the training process by addressing the actual needs of the sales team.

While this task may seem daunting, there are four simple ways that a sales enablement program can actually streamline sales training.

1.) Making Training More Available

One of the biggest problems with sales trainings is that they usually only happen a few times out of the year at best. Traditional sales training techniques often require a meeting or group gathering scheduled by someone other than the rep, which means the rep has to adjust his or her schedule in order to fit. If the trainings work with the rep to schedule a time for the meeting, there is no risk of the sales training interfering with the rep’s clients. This small adjustment to a sales training strategy can maximize each sales reps’ time, making them more available to meet with or call potential clients.  An effective sales enablement program makes sure that sales training is available when the rep can be there and in a place they can go without getting in the way of sales.

2.) Contextualizing the Training to Meet the Reps’ Needs

As with all large-gathering trainings, group sales trainings can sometimes be less focused on the specific needs of an individual sales rep.

A more beneficial sales training strategy would give reps information that is relevant to the sales proecess and deal they are currently trying to engage. The rep is now motivated because the sales training content applies to the rep’s situation at the moment. They will be more attentive and focused, and the training will be more effective.

An effective sales enablement program helps ensure that all the sales content that is given to the rep is significant and relevant to their current engagements.

3.) Training on Simple, Deliverable Language

Since sales reps are the buyer’s primary communication point for the company, it is vital that they are able to communicate the necessary information to the buyer in a simple and concise way. Few buyers will be interested in jargon or technical data statistics, but they will want to know the essential aspects of what they are considering buying. If a sales rep cannot fully explain the product simply and coherently, they may lose the buyer’s interest and ultimately, their business.

Because of this, an effective sales enablement program must support a sales training and communication strategy that gives the rep the necessary information in such a way that they can easily digest and deliver it to the buyer in simple language.

4.) Incorporating Training Into the Regular Workflow

Perhaps the most essential need is for the sales training content to be seamlessly incorporated into the rep and sales manager’s workflows, making room for quick and regular coaching feedback from the manager to the rep. The training process should be ongoing so that sales reps are not losing out on new information or having to remember what they learned months ago.

An effective sales enablement program that incorporates sales training techniques into a company’s workflow will help make training and coaching more efficient in the long run.

Developing an effective sales enablement program that works around the sales team will help the reps with what they actually need, allowing them to be more productive and motivated to sell more. When they are regularly given proper training material that helps them in their specific engagements, they will use what they learn more regularly, making it less likely that they forget what they learn and more likely that they use it in the future. Lastly, the sales enablement program can help ensure a workflow that allows room for regular, practical feedback from managers to the reps. All these together streamline the training process and make the sales team more efficient, productive, and effective.


Shawnna Sumaoang is the Director of Marketing for Highspot, the industry's most advanced sales enablement platform, helping organizations close the loop across marketing, sales, and the customer.

Topics: Sales Training, Sales Enablement

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.


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