Sales Training Buyers Beware. There is No Barrier to Entry in The Sales Training Business.


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Pretty scary, huh? It sure is, especially if you’re a sales manager looking for answers.

Every day there is more bad advice posted on the Internet about what’s required for sales success, and it’s getting worse. I’m on dozens of sales trainers’ mailing lists. Among those emails, Google Alerts, my Twitter feed (“sales training” is one stream I track), reading plenty of blogs, and getting numbers of new books on sales sent to me on a regular basis, I get to see a lot of what’s really, really dangerous about this industry.

These are among the many risks associated with investing time and money with someone who just hangs up a shingle (puts up a website) and calls themselves a sales trainer, guru, coach, consultant, or expert:

  • They don’t really understand your customers, your business, your people, your market, and your real selling challenges nor are they capable or willing to learn.
  • They pre-prescribe what’s wrong with your team or approach based only on their area of knowledge or comfort rather than what you really need.
  • Their training content consists of what they personally did when (and if) they sold, rather than a content based on a foundation of research, analysis, development, and experience.
  • They have no credibility in front of your sales team, resulting in a loss of credibility for you as well.
  • They have no measurement approach and are unwilling to be held accountable for results.
  • They have no understanding of the behavioral and business change required for sustainable sales performance improvement and certainly don’t have the ability to support that change.
  • They steer you toward tactical, event-based classroom training since that’s where they can make the most money.
  • They have no technology platform for the delivery and measurement of ongoing learning, reinforcement, and integration with your company’s CRM system.
  • They’re not concerned about talent management, especially recruitment and selection. Some are happy when salespeople that leave your organization—they get to train the replacements next year.
  • They’ve worked in only one or perhaps two industries leaving them with little perspective on yours, even though they’ll tell you, “selling is selling.”
  • They have little interest in methods and process, but a host of tricks, tips, shortcuts, and silver bullets.
  • They are more focused on increasing activity rather than productivity among your salespeople.
  • They don’t employ adult learning strategies and approaches in their programs.
  • Motivation and entertainment play a significantly bigger role than it should in their training classes.

You may think that there is nothing wrong with bringing in someone, just for a day, who appears to have a new approach, a hot book with a catchy title, or a really cool website. If those are your only three buying criteria, take my advice: Don’t do it. Why you shouldn’t do it will be the subject of a post for another day.

One more thing. There are terrific sales trainers whom you’ve never heard of. They deliver significant value to their customers and really understand how to effect improvement in their client’s sales organizations. It isn’t these people about which I am writing about. I’ll continue to do what I can to help them get noticed and grow their businesses.

In the meantime, Let the Sales Training Buyer Beware!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Stein
Dave specializes in helping his clients win critical B2B sales opportunities as well as helping them hire the best sales talent.Dave is co-author of Beyond the Sales Process. He wrote the best-selling How Winners Sell in 2004.


  1. Excellent post and very valid points you raise! Sales training is a competitive field, and as you discuss, almost anyone can throw their hat in the ring and attempt to be a “qualified” sales trainer.

    I’d like to just add to your post by mentioning that there are excellent companies out there that have a deep track record of measurable training results. So what should you look for when evaluating companies? I recommend the following:

    * Case studies that give descriptive, measurable numbers on how a company has improved (before and after the training)

    * An average track record of metric improvements across industries

    * A variety of options for training (classroom, e-learning, seminars) and the ability to customize a training program. For example–

    * Experienced trainers who have been in the industry for years and have worked with a variety of companies

    *Customer testimonials

    Thanks for the topic.

  2. Hi Joanna,

    Thanks for your comment. I appreciate your recommendations about how to evaluate sales training companies. This is precisely what my firm, ES Research Group, does. We presently have online evaluations available for more than 3 dozen sales training companies.

    Sorry, I’m not sure who you are or what company you work for. Your link on this comment and others suggests you’re connected with Impact Learning.

    Your list is a good place to start, however there are many, many other things to consider before selecting a training partner. I wouldn’t want any readers of this blog post to stop there.


  3. Absolutely, Dave. There are many factors to consider when looking for a training partner. It’s great having companies like yours out there that take the time to match companies with training partners.


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