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Sales Training Companies from a Unique Perspective (Part 2)

Before I go any further, let me again state that there are a lot of effective, high value, ethical sales training companies out there.  They have long lists of customers who have managed to dramatically improve their teams’ sales performance.

StealingSales Training IP Thief!

Let me dig a bit into a point I made in Part 1—the fact that some sales training companies steal content from their competitors.

At a SAMA conference a while back I sat in disbelief during a vendor presentation.  Nearly every slide was duplicated, verbatim, from another vendor whose content I was very familiar with.  What made matters worse is the presenter used the same anecdotes and examples to make his point as the founder of the other company from whom the content was pirated.  I know where it originated, since I had heard the founder of that other company use those same anecdotes and examples at least 10 years before.

What impact does this have on the sales training industry?  It can’t be good.  The content pirates could be little more than parrots—lip synching someone else’s ideas, strategies and approaches, without providing the process framework, tools and educational design for real learning.  Or, the most innovative vendors might decide that they don’t want to compete on innovation any longer.  That wouldn’t be good either.

What Versus How

You can slice and dice the sales training industry in numbers of ways: small versus large, a direct model versus franchisees/resellers, off-the-shelf versus customized.  Another view is skills- versus methodology-driven, and this one causes a lot of problems for unsuspecting customers.

Research has shown that sales training interventions fail for any number of reasons.  One is that the vendor over focuses on the “what” to do without providing very much on the “how” to do it.  There are a few reasons for that.  The vendor may have been so focused on methodology development that they haven’t developed the detailed content, coursework,  skills development mechanisms and post-program reinforcement to transform knowledge into capabilities.

In some cases, to differentiate themselves from their competitors, training companies developed advanced selling skills to the exclusion of “Sales 101.”  Again, the unsuspecting, customer who hasn’t done her homework, and has a team of relatively inexperienced reps, might wind up with a training disaster on her hands.

Substituting for John Smith is…

Here is one more thing to worry about.  You log on to a webinar given by a sales training company.  The presentation is flawless.  It’s motivating, perfectly paced, content rich, and even ends in a professional/subtle close, just like how you would like your salespeople to deliver it.  You call the company.  Set up a time to train your people (mistake right there).  The day comes and there is someone else in the front of the room at that Hilton near the airport.  That person isn’t close to being as charismatic, knowledgeable or credible.  Plus, it’s clear after 3 minutes that they’ve never worked in your industry and haven’t delivered this vendor’s program in quite a while, plus…    I can’t go on…  Too painful…


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