By Jay Valentine, ContingencySales
The sales training industry is an inherent contradiction.
Great salespeople make too much money to offer courses in social media selling or sales training. Who does it?
Those selling training desperately need the work. They never made big money selling. That’s OK, sales are where the top of the profession wins most of the dollars. They didn’t.
They are usually old, often bald, in a few cases have “brands” like a Mohawk haircut or blue hair. When, in the history of the planet have you seen a B2B salesperson with blue hair or a Mohawk selling multi-million-dollar SaaS offerings?
Why fund a sales force?
Often, it is to service existing customers, have long tenures making not much money. For them, sales training might be a perfect solution. Mediocrity teaching the mediocre how to stay that way is intellectually consistent.
There are other niches.
There are startups with disruptive technology.
These are not the typical ones who breathlessly call everything they do transformative; these deliver an order of magnitude difference.
Their offering lowers IT costs by 50%. They take an app that runs for 93 hours on a mainframe, rewrite it in 90 days and it runs in 30 seconds on an edge device you hold in your hand. Stuff changes, not incrementally but fundamentally. So does your business, and of course, your career.
Sales training from mediocre producers? Perhaps not.
Look, your spouse is diagnosed with a terrible disease. Do you want the doctor who graduated last in the class at a third-rate medical school, perhaps in the Caribbean? Your kid wants to take karate training, do you go to the place where the sensei never won a championship? Of course not.
So why would you spend half a million dollars for sales training from people who never made real money selling? Think about that for a moment. Why?
These sales trainers are not stupid, although they are far from clever. They position training as something to bring your reps into “social media selling.” That sounds like you may need it because everyone is on Facebook. Why not sell there. Pay the $500,000 for the course. Bring in the bald guy.
Then you sleep on it.
You sell an artificial intelligence solution cutting customer response from 2 minutes to 2 seconds. For you, that is a game changer. You pitch SVPs of Customer Service for Fortune 100 companies.
Wait a moment!
Is that prospect lurking on LinkedIn or Facebook interacting with twenty-something sales reps?
Is that person, with a salary around a million dollars a year, a palatial office, and a staff in the hundreds listening to a 24-year-old recent college grad who just took a course in social media selling? Ask yourself, is this how it works?
You wake up, shake your head, and realize paying some failed salesperson, now late in life with a declining career $500,000 is just preposterous. You go back to sleep.
The contradiction in sales training is that it is taught by those who could not do it themselves. They never had the great moves, the insatiable initiative to be at top of that leaderboard. They were never recruited as game changers. If they had, they would not be on LinkedIn selling training to people as young as your middle child.
Now, in the twilight of productive life, they are leveraging concepts that sound good but, after a night’s sleep are realized to be nonsense.
Social media selling, sales assessment systems, identifying and ranking skills in closing, prospecting, presenting – all evaluated by that third-rate doctor you would never let treat your heart condition.
As you think about what you need, you realize you have a disruptive offering. It moves the needle.
You need someone who can find the future. You need a sales talent who can impact the trajectory of your company. You need to find the innovator, the early adopter.
You realize, pretty quickly, sales training is not what you need.
You need that special lone wolf salesperson who skipped sales training from the mediocre.
They are not selling sales training. They are selling.
About The Author
Jay Valentine is the CEO of ContingencySales, bringing disruptive technology to market without early venture capital.