Come On, Dave. Who’s The Best Sales Trainer?

JeopardyThat’s a question I’ve been asked again and again by journalists, sales leaders, sales training company CEOs, corporate training departments, consultants, and our clients, when they first contact us.

When I tell them that’s not a question I can easily answer, many offer to pay me just for providing them with “just one name.”

If they press me for an answer I take a deep breath and say…

I first need you to tell me just a bit about the company seeking the best sales training firm:”

  • What do they sell?
  • How do they sell it?
  • How well do they sell it?
  • Why do they win?
  • Why do they lose?
  • How long is their sales cycle?
  • Is it a complex or transactional sale?
  • Do they sell to committees or individual buyers?
  • What resources are required to support a rep?
  • How do their buyers buy?
  • Who are their competitors?
  • What’s their go-to-market strategy?
  • How are leads generated?
  • What percent of market share do they own?
  • What are their business goals and objectives for the coming quarter, year and three years out?
  • How well is the sales team performing? What percentage of sales reps are at or above quota?
  • What processes and tools do they currently have in place?
  • What geographic territories do they cover? In what languages? With what local cultural requirements?
  • How is the company structured?
  • What about their sales channels?
  • What compensation and incentive approach do they employ?
  • How well do the first line managers manage?
  • What gaps exist in management skills and capabilities?
  • Do they coach effectively to a process?
  • What analytic and measurement systems are in place?
  • How well is sales integrated with other functions within the company especially marketing and service?
  • What is their propensity to change?
  • Are the corporate leaders ready for a business transformation?
  • How much time, resources, and money are they willing to invest in it?
  • Which vendors have already been engaged with this company?
  • What learning mechanisms and tools are in place?
  • How diverse are individuals within the sales team with respect to experience, skill, effectiveness, business savvy, age, learning preferences, etc.?
  • What are the company’s annual revenues?
  • How much are they willing to invest in a sales effectiveness initiative?
  • What technology, if any, is currently supporting the sales function?
  • Are they thinking about training strategically or tactically?
  • Who is currently providing training?
  • What do they think their biggest sales challenge is?
  • What special skills, if any, are required for sales effectiveness?  This question alone requires discussions with many diverse stakeholders and is a critical component of ESR’s discovery process.
Do you get my point? No single sales performance improvement provider is right for every company’s requirements.  If you’re looking for the best one for your business, you’ve got to start with requirements. Skip that step and you just become another statistic.

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  1. says

    HI Dave,

    This is a great post. I’m often asked to help sales trainers understand the “lay of the land” inside their company. I have to tell you that most of the sales training decision makers I talk with have some understanding of these questions — but they need to work more closely with their VPs of Sales to make sure they are co-creating something that really solves the problem (not just putting a band-aid on it!).

    Then on the other hand, I have talked to many vendors who believe that because they sold for 20 years they don’t need to have an in-depth understanding of these questions or issues that organizations face — or they assume they already know the answers (but never bothered to ask!).

    Brian Lambert,
    Director, Sales Training Drivers
    Accelerating Revenue Through Learning

  2. says

    The good news is, if you are truly worth your weight in gold as a sales trainer, there’s plenty of business to go around. There are so many niches that top sales trainers can stay busy helping their clients succeed with no shortage of opportunities.

  3. says

    In the medical world this equation holds:

    prescription without diagnosis = malpractice

    Same in our business. The question “who is the best sales trainer?” is like calling a realtor and asking “how much does a house cost?”

    The person who poses this question is very, very naive.


  4. says

    Excellent post! Brings up many issues faced by sales trainers and sales consultants. Practically a question schematic for a good sales call for sales training providers.