Does Sales Training Matter?

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Of the 4,158 colleges and universities in the United States, just 35 deal sales curricula. Nonetheless, more than 50% of the 1.3 million college graduates in 2007 will end up being expert sellers on the first day of their employment. Yet, turnover rates, attrition and failure in-the-field for these young salesmen are impressive. The question is why?
Undoubtedly, there is a scarcity of reliable sales training programs in the educational marketplace. Salespeople are just not being appropriately geared up or prepared for their tasks. If– as Huthwaite contends– sales is a science, then it can be found out. However in order to be discovered, it should initially be correctly taught.
Perhaps a far more engaging reason that sales training matters is highlighted in the chart below, which details the breakdown of aspects affecting sales success.
Branding technique, rates, product positioning and the competitive landscape all add to producing sales results. While other concerns exist, their cumulative result is very little and as such these are designated as “and so on” The biggest slice of the pie– the piece that actually distinguishes companies in a commoditized world– is sales skills. In an increasingly homogenized market, the brass ring goes to sellers who differentiate themselves in the sales procedure– those who understand that success has more to do with “how” you offer than “exactly what” you sell.
Sales leaders and L&D experts have little if any influence on branding, pricing and item methods– and neither group can influence the market forces that define the competitive landscape. However they can and do have a direct and profound effect on the abilities of their salespeople. Sales force effectiveness is completely within their control. In an environment where product features and brand name identity are no longer sufficient to “seal the deal,” sales abilities are the main engine of distinction, worth production and revenue margin growth in the new millennium.