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Shadowing in Sales: Is It Still an Effective Technique?

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During my time working in sales, it was common practice for new salespeople to shadow experienced colleagues who were top performers in the team. Shadowing experienced salespeople has been a common practice in the sales industry for years. However, according to Mark Roberge, author of "The Sales Acceleration Formula," traditional shadowing techniques may not be as effective as once thought.

Understanding Individual Strengths

Roberge argues that traditional ride-along shadowing doesn't take into account the individual strengths, or "super powers," of each salesperson. Some salespeople may be great at building relationships, while others may excel at closing deals quickly. Shadowing someone with a different set of strengths doesn't allow new salespeople to fully understand their own strengths and how to apply them to their work.

Empathising with Prospects

An excellent way to train salespeople is to give them the opportunity to understand their prospects by putting themselves in their shoes. A practical example of this is HubSpot's approach, where every sales rep has started a blog and built a social media following. Through this experience, they develop real empathy for their prospects and can better understand how to assist them.This is also a technique that is being used by one of our partners, a SaaS company in Transport Management. They allow their account managers to accompany the end-users for a day, so that the account managers can truly understand the pain points their customers are experiencing.

Scalability and Predictability

Additionally, Roberge suggests that traditional shadowing is not scalable or predictable. Companies may rely on shadowing as a primary means of training new salespeople, but this approach can't guarantee consistent results.

Structured Training Programs

Instead, Roberge recommends a systemized training program that focuses on the buyer journey, sales process, and qualifying matrix. This approach ensures that new salespeople receive comprehensive training and develop the necessary skills to succeed in their role.

Developing Personal Style

Furthermore, Roberge argues that traditional shadowing can lead to new salespeople learning another person's personal style rather than developing their own. This can be detrimental if the salesperson they're shadowing excels in areas where the new salesperson struggles. Instead, Roberge recommends a structured approach to training that allows new salespeople to identify their own strengths and develop their own personal style.


In conclusion, while shadowing can still be a valuable tool in sales training, it's important to consider its limitations and complement it with a structured training program. By doing so, new salespeople can learn the necessary skills to succeed while also developing their own personal style and approach to selling.

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