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Sales Training Companies from a Unique Perspective (Part 1)

I’ve been on all sides of the sales training business:

  • Class participant as a sales rep—many different programs over numbers of years;
  • Buyer of sales training as a VP of sales;
  • Buyer of sales management training;
  • Inhouse sales trainer—my own content as well as a reseller for another company;
  • Outsourced sales trainer—again, my own content as well as a reseller for another company;
  • Author of best-selling sales book;
  • And now, a sales training industry researcher and analyst.  In that role I speak with many large and small sales training company CEOs each week.  Some I have interviewed, with many more to come.  I see their proposals to prospects, their presentations, their training classes, and through our network of contacts, hear about their successes and failures.  I’m quite familiar with the business.

With that being said, here are some observations:

Sales Training Companies: The Good News

There are some absolutely terrific sales training companies out there, of all sizes.  Some are well-known and others are far below the radar screen of many who would search for a provider.  Here are just a few high-level points about what they do that delivers value to their customers. The best:

  1. Operate with a high degree of integrity;
  2. Invest in their products, services, clients and people.
  3. Walk away from a opportunities where they and the customer won’t be successful;
  4. Admit that they aren’t all things to all people;
  5. Are short on hype, long on results.

Sales Training Companies: The Bad News

There are training companies whose approach and capabilities are flawed in one or more critical areas.  These shortcomings leave their customers and clients with less than optimal results:

  1. They will pursue any opportunity, even where their capabilities don’t match customer requirements;
  2. They push the products and services that provide the biggest margins, not the most value for the customer, such as filling classroom seats versus process work or post-program coaching;
  3. They claim to do an impartial needs analysis or assessment, but only look for areas where they have solutions.  Think Maslow’s “If you’re a hammer, everything is a nail.”
  4. They will claim that they customize their training, but do nothing more than a search and replace for “Company Name”;
  5. They are not willing or able (or both) to present you with an ROI or at a minimum, customers of theirs that can speak to quantified benefits resulting from their programs. They will make statements such as, “We can’t be responsible for people over whom we have no control,” or “It’s impossible to measure the impact of sales training”;
  6. They haven’t updated their intellectual property (“IP”) in years—perhaps decades!
  7. They blatantly steal IP from their competitors.
  8. Take shortcuts to convey the impression that they have certain capabilities.  Sales enablement technology is one example.

I’ve got more to say on this subject.  Come back for the next post in the series.


6 Responses

  1. Hey Dave! How does one get started with a sales training org? 9 yrs of sales with 2 as a district trainer. want to get out and do some training. what recommendations in terms of good companies that provide good training (pharma background). I’m thinking of becoming a reseller for a foot in the door. Is that a good route to take? Thanks!

  2. Give me a call at my office. We can chat about this. (508) 313-9585 X 706

  3. Dave,

    I work for a four year old company. Up until now, we have been very successful. Now it’s up to me to begin t he sales process. I need some guidance on what type of program would be best. I have sold for other companies, but not in this industry that I am in now.
    I am considering Sandler, but only because I know two people in the area that have attended. How do I know if Sandler will work for me.

    My industry is commercial construction; specifically hospitality construction.

    Your thoughts or recommendations would be most appreciated. Thanks.


    • First let me assure everyone that this hasn’t been rehearsed. Michael, among other things, ESR helps companies understand their own requirements and assists them with identifying and selecting the right vendor. Sandler is the right partner for some companies, but certainly not all. You can start by reading this post. l will have my office get in contact with you to set up a call.

  4. Dave,
    I have just recently moved from a Pharma company to a device company as the Director of Training. The current organization does not utilize a selling process based upon the talent we recruit, but believe it is necessary. Based upon everything I have read, an outside organization would provide more value versus a homegrown process. Is this true and any tips on where I can get more data? Thanks, Christine

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