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How Are Sales Training Companies Faring In This Economy?

A few of our clients have asked how the mainstream sales training companies are doing during this economic crisis.  Let me provide you with a few data points.

I received an email today from one CEO saying, “We are completing a great year with a 30+% growth.”

Based upon my understanding of current sales training demand, another CEO asked me whether I thought he should be hiring additional people.  He had just won two big opportunities and had a reasonably full pipeline.

On the other side of the coin, one very savvy CEO has taken his company’s expense levels down a few notches, just in case.  I know of several training companies that have reduced headcount at the executive level.

One CEO wrote in an email, “We have upgraded our forecast for 2008 as our last quarter efforts have yielded results that will keep us on par with our 2007 results (not bad in this economy)!”

One training company founder shared his thoughts with me.  He couldn’t get the attention of the very people his company is focused on helping—the VP of sales.  “They’re just looking at the quarter.  No further. They’ll come into the new year with no strategy, no plan.  They’ll be right back where they are now, if not worse.”

You may be wondering why the situation for sales training companies isn’t worse.  The reason is that there are companies—more than you might expect—that are investing now in sales performance improvement.  I wish I could share their names with you.  They really deserve credit.  In fact, ESR is involved in more sales training evaluations now than at any point since we started the company.  I am very encouraged about this.

If you’re shopping for sales training, here is some advice in addition to ESR’s recommended and documented vendor selection process:

  1. Redeploy any salespeople that can’t get the sales job done before you buy any training.  It’s a waste of time and money as well as a distraction and demotivator for the rest of your team to continue having chronic underperformers on board.
  2. Make certain you understand the current situation of any vendor you are considering doing business with.  It’s not the worst thing if business is down for them.  But if they have reduced headcount, you want to make sure they’ll provide you with the right resources—the experience and expertise—to enable a successful initiative.
  3. Don’t negotiate the vendor out of a reasonable profit.  If they don’t make money on your account, you’ll wind up losing, especially during these tough times.  On the other hand, there is no need to subsidize the rest of their business.  Cut a fair deal.
  4. Of course budget is an issue.  Consider progressing in phases.
  5. Make sure you have metrics in place to validate progress, because you’ll want to get more funding later on.

Photo credit: © James Steidl – Fotolia.com


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