Sales and Sales Management Blog

May 15, 2008

And They Call Themselves Sales Trainers?


Just how committed are you to what you do? How willing are you to work through the discouragement, rejection, and hard work of creating a presence in your market? How often have you been preached to by sales trainers about the importance of commitment, dedication, and the willingness to work through the hard times to create you niche in your market?

If you’ve been in sales for 5 minutes you’ve heard this preached ad infinitum. Almost to a person, sales trainers try to emphasize the importance of commitment, diligence and staying power. You’ve heard it over and over and over.

Now, I’m ashamed to say what I discovered about ‘sales trainers’ yesterday while I was rooting around the Internet looking for other sales and sales management blogs. I did some keyword searches on various search engines and, of course, I found links to hundreds of blogs set up by sales and sales management trainers.

I wasn’t the least bit surprised with the number of links and the number of blogs. There are thousands of men and women who are in the sales and sales management training and consulting industry, so I expected a very large number to have taken advantage of the power of blogs to reach prospective clients.

Nevertheless, I was floored with what I found. Many of these men and women who are preaching the need to commit, to hang in there, to fight through the hard work of creating a niche, of dedicating oneself to doing the hard work of marketing and getting the word out without succumbing to the disappointment and discouragement one encounters along the way are themselves demonstrating for all the world to see their own personal inability to do what they preach.

I found dozens upon dozens of blogs set up by sales and sales management “trainers” and “consultants” who had created a few blog posts and then abandoned their blogs when they didn’t get an immediate audience. Worse, they didn’t even think to take the evidence of their lack of commitment and dedication off the internet.

It doesn’t take long to find these blogs with great “About” pages that describe the trainer’s wonderful credentials and discuss how dedicated they are to helping salespeople and managers improve their businesses. Then you look at the front page and notice the first entry was on March 12, 2006 and the last entry was July 27, 2006 with only six or seven entries in-between. Now, that’s dedication—four whole months with a total of 8 or 9 posts—2 years ago.

What in the world are people to think of a sales trainer who can’t even commit to their own work? It would be easy to just laugh and move on—except this hypocrisy is so rampant it may well reflect on not just the guilty trainers and consultants, but on all trainers and consultants.

Nevertheless, it is also another way to determine whether an individual trainer or company is one you want to invest your dollars with. If they can’t commit to their business, just how much are they going to contribute to your business?

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6 Comments »

  1. This is akin to companies who create “blogs” for their customers but don’t integrate any means to post comments. Therefore, their blog turns into a modified rss feed the customer has to actively partake in. Why anyone would create something like this and not manage activity is beyond me.

    As far as not managing an actual blog goes, many people find it good enough just to have a profile or blog up in order to let others know they are a part of what’s happening now. Unfortunately, they look silly once someone actually visits their great site.

    Comment by dtdhokie — May 15, 2008 @ 9:22 pm | Reply

  2. dtdhokie,

    Thanks for your input. You’re right, of course, that many are simply trying to ‘look’ up to date, while others are too lazy to manage the activity on the blog. They do more damage to themselves and to their
    ‘brand’ than they may imagine. Who wants to engage a sales trainer who doesn’t have the commitment and discipline to manage their own business? Who wants to pay a trainer who obviously doesn’t practice what they preach?

    A blog is one of the most public signs of this lack of commitment and discipline, but it is a very strong indicator of the individual’s work habits and personal dedication to their business and how they follow through on commitments. We all have obligations that we view as less important than others, but once you’ve made a commitment to your business and your prospects/clients, you must follow through.

    Comment by Paul McCord — May 16, 2008 @ 6:56 am | Reply

  3. Hi Paul,

    Interesting post, enjoyed reading.

    I’m a sales trainer based in Ireland who has just recently started to blog. I also have been looking at various sales, sales management and sales training blogs looking for ideas, inspiration and knowledge for my own blog http://www.btbtraining.com/blog.

    While there are of course there are many abandoned and poor quality blogs as you point out, I think its also fair to say that there are also many excellent sales training and management blogs available.

    Off the top of my head, Dave Stein’s http://www.davesteinsblog.wordpress.com and Jill Konrath’s http://www.sellingtobigcompanies.com are two fine examples.

    In relation to your point about hiring sales trainers, I would agree that any company that hires a sales trainer that doesn’t practice what they preach should really first seek out training around their decision making criteria. You could go so far as to say that’s a bit of a no brainer.

    What’s probably even more relevant when it comes to qualifying a trainer suitability in my opinion is the quality of the posts the blog’s ability to demonstrate the trainer’s knowledge and grasp of the subject matter.

    If we were too be honest, one could admit that there is of course a huge amount of claptrap on the net on sales techniques and selling skills, why? because the net makes it easy and cheap for anyone to claim to an sales expert, set up a website and blog about what ever they like.

    The bottom line is that Its up to the seeker of the the sales training to weed out the rubbish and get someone who has the commitment and expertise to deliver.

    Keep up the good work,
    Niall

    Comment by BTB Management, Sales and Presentation Skills Training Ireland — May 20, 2008 @ 4:31 am | Reply

  4. Niall,

    I respectfully disagree that finding quality training is totally the responsibility of the company or individual seeking the training. I think it is about time the industry begin monitoring itself. It may not be able to eliminate the trainers who add nothing to the profession, but it can at least highlight the best trainers, those who really contribute, who have an original body of work, and whose work is known and respected by other trainers.

    Most sites that publish the work of sales trainers don’t vet the trainers they publish–they take anyone and anything. However, there are some sites that do take vetting of trainers seriously. Sites such as the Top Sales Experts and Can Do Go both take pains to make sure the trainers they feature to top shelf because each trainer is hand selected.

    Just as with other professions, at some point we must become responsible for ourselves as an industry. What I do reflects upon the rest of the industry, just as what you do does and what anyone else who calls them self a trainer. As individuals we owe it to our prospects and clients to present ourselves with integrity and honesty, and to acknowledge fully our areas of expertise and resist the temptation to accept assignments in areas where we aren’t qualified to deliver top of the line training. As an industry, I believe, we have a moral obligation to self police.

    Comment by Paul McCord — May 20, 2008 @ 6:33 am | Reply

  5. Hi Paul,

    Of course I agree there is a responsibility to self police and sites such as Top Sales Experts are leaders in this regard. I would love to see a time where the sales training industry in entirely regulated but until such a time the responsibly to qualify will remain (forced you might even say) upon the person seeking the training.

    Even in the ideal world where every trainer had to have a PHD, some would still remain better trainers than others so clients would continue to have to take responsibility for ensuring they get someone who can deliver.

    Factor the web and blogging into the above mix and self policing becomes exponentially more difficult so unfortunately in the current reality you are left with your original problem. How do you tell the good guy from the bad guy?

    Your post dealt with sales trainers who had created a few blog posts and then abandoned their blogs when they didn’t get an immediate audience. A concern being that it may well reflect on not just the guilty trainers and consultants, but on all trainers and consultants.

    My feeling is that this type of activity only serves to highlight you and I. In other words these people make it easy to stand out from the crowd. I also believe that clients can spot this a mile off. You asked what in the world are people to think of a sales trainer who can’t even commit to their own work? Well their certainly not going to think enough to hire them.

    Until a time comes when we can kick them of the web completely, they will remain I accept an irritation. They may be bad sales trainers but in my opinion where they really truly fail is as sellers of their product.

    Over here at the other side of the pond lol we have an organisation called the Sales Institute of Ireland which is making tremendous inroads with regards to ensuring a quality sales training product.

    I do hope that we see a time where the profession of selling and salespeople in general are treated with the same respect as other disciplines. My thinking is that this will require the representative bodies, educational institutions and government to all pull together before proper regulation becomes an actual reality.

    Thank you for engaging me in this discussion. I have only recently started to read your blog which I thoroughly enjoying.

    Regards,
    Niall

    Comment by BTB Management, Sales and Presentation Skills Training Ireland — May 21, 2008 @ 6:12 pm | Reply

  6. Niall,

    There’s a bit of progress being made over here also. There are now a few universities offering a business degree with an emphasis in sales, we have some professional sales organizations but none that have really made a mark, And, as I mentioned with the Top Sales Experts, there are some gatherings of some of the top trainers going on.

    Certainly, until there is a better way for individuals and companies to find good trainers, they are totally on their own. Even if and when there is more self-policing, companies will have to do their due diligence.

    There are some quick, easy ways for companies to make decisions about the quality of content if not the quality of presentation of a trainer:

    1. Examine the books the trainer has written. If the books are published by a major business publisher, that’s a good sign. Not a guarantee, but a good sign as major publishers are extremely picky about what they accept.

    2. Read a number of their articles. Not only is it good, is it original or are they just parroting what everyone else is saying?

    3. Do they clearly define their area of expertise or do they claim to be all things to meet all needs? If they claim to do it all, avoid them–no one is top shelf in every part of the sales process.

    4. Who are their clients? Quality companies and associations tend to bring in quality trainers as they have the resources to do the qualifying that other companies might not have.

    Unfortunately, most companies and individuals won’t take the little bit of time to do the above–which is why so many less than average trainers can survive.

    Comment by Paul McCord — May 22, 2008 @ 7:16 am | Reply


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