Sales and Sales Management Blog

July 26, 2010

In Sales Training, New Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Better–In Fact, It Probably Isn’t

Filed under: career development,sales,sales training,selling — Paul McCord @ 2:08 pm

“Hey, Paul, what do you have new and exciting for me?”

“I’ve had trainers come in and do sessions on cold calling, referrals, and networking and just recently had an all day session on using Social Media.  I’m really looking for something really new and cutting edge that can really get my people excited.  Do you have any training like that?”

“You’re not telling me anything new.  Isn’t there anything new and exciting that’s going to ignite sales?  We’ve had all the standard stuff; we need something radical, something really cutting edge.”

I hear these comments more often that I’d like as there is a segment of the population that is always looking for the newest, most innovative, original prospecting, selling, presentation, and customer service methods, techniques and strategies.  And even those who aren’t asking for something unusual or different are attracted by the idea of finding something really new, different, ground-breaking.

We live in a world obsessed with the new, original and different.  The old is so yesterday; the new is what’s going to give us the ANSWERS to the great questions of sales and marketing.

But there’s a serious problem with this drive for new, different, and unique.  A lot of the new is nothing but crap and a lot of the old are solid, proven methods and techniques that work because they are in line with how humans think and act.

As a graduate student I encountered this same type of thinking.  For anyone seeking to become a tenured professor, producing new and original material is mandatory.  The problem is there isn’t that much new and original worth the paper it’s written on.  But producing worthwhile material isn’t the key to academic success—being able to defend the material—no matter how flimsy the defense or how outrageous the material—is the key to staying around long enough to become tenured.

Now, years later, I find the same situation in the training arena.  As trainers we have to make a name for ourselves in order to get the training and speaking contracts, in order to sell more books, in order to demand larger and larger fees.

How do we make a name for ourselves?  One way is through producing new and original material; new methods, new strategies, new concepts, new ideas, or new principles.   And just as with the academic, it really doesn’t make any difference if the new ideas, concepts, strategies and methods work as long as we can convince enough people that it is worth paying the price to give it a shot.  It’s even better if we can get a concept, principle, strategy or process named after us—that just might be the real ticket to the big time.

The problem is so much of this new and original is nothing other than the old put in a shiny new package which is often prettier but less effective than the old package—or, just as likely, pure old fashioned bullshit.

On the other hand, a great deal of what is considered old and dated is still the best thinking in a great many areas of sales and sales management.  Want some quality material?  Get yourself a copy of Think and Grow Rich, SPIN Selling, How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling, Solution Selling, or Major Account Sales Strategy.  Before reading the newest, hottest sales guru, spend some time reading Zig Ziglar, Brian Tracy, or Tom Hopkins.  Too old fashioned for your taste?  Well, they haven’t been around training salespeople and managers since God was just a boy because they don’t know what they’re talking about.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t pursue new avenues, new study, new thinking.  I believe we have a tremendous amount to learn about sales and marketing, about how people make decisions, how they purchase, how to connect and relate to them.  I think we’ve really only begun to plumb the world of sales and marketing.

And certainly there’s some great (and original) thinking going on today—look at Charlie Green, Dave Brock, Jill Konrath, Jonathan Farrington, Sharon Drew Morgan, and many others.  All of these men and women are contributing their original thought and helping us become better sellers, sales leaders and marketers.  But even within this illustrious group you’ll find the vast majority of their material builds on the best thinking of the past rather than trying to reinvent sales and marketing.

Don’t be conned by the claims of new, of ground-breaking, of revolutionary from the latest sales guru.  As Ecclesiastes says, there’s really nothing new under the sun.  Instead of seeking the new, seek the proven; instead of looking for the original, look for the effective; instead of trying to find the easy way, find the way that is ethical and works.

Just because it’s the old time religion doesn’t mean it won’t work in today’s marketplace; just as because it is new and different doesn’t mean it will work.  In fact, if it is new, original and ground-breaking, chances are it won’t work.



  1. Paul,

    Great post! It’s easy to get sucked into the “latest and greatest,” but it’s the fundamentals (applied to today’s buyers) that remain critical.

    Jeb Brooks

    Comment by Jeb Brooks — July 26, 2010 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

  2. Paul,

    Just like someone noted that all stories are essentially a retelling of Shakespeare tomes (or pick your even older favorite sage). Successful Sales and Business processes also tend to follow along established best practices that have stood the test of time. The tools change, the delivery methods become more digital, the wording is updated to encompass those ‘new’ tools and the ideas get gussied up a little with a new coat of paint but the essential elements remain. Thank you for such a concise, cogent and clear reminder that some stuff just works regardless of the time we live in. New is nice to talk about though when we want to evade the real issues or look for a quick, silver bullet, fix 🙂


    Comment by Dan Collins — July 26, 2010 @ 6:39 pm | Reply

  3. […] In Sales Training, New Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Better–In Fact, It Probably Isn’t … […]

    Pingback by Preceptorships (or Job Shadowing): Great Career Builder | Uncategorized | Information about Careers — July 26, 2010 @ 9:00 pm | Reply

  4. Great stuff! It is more likely these days to find the old tried and tested methods in any line of business are being tarted up and re-issued as the latest ‘in thing’. Truth is in sales in particular, people are always looking for to have the edge on their competitors and would really appreciate a programme that has guaranteed success. Of course there is no such thing and a good salesman will know this.

    Comment by training courses — July 27, 2010 @ 6:46 am | Reply

  5. […] In Sales Training, New Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Better–In Fact, It Probably Isn’t … […]

    Pingback by Don’t “Call To Follow Up.” Deliver Value In Your Follow Up Calls When Prospecting | Uncategorized | Information about Careers — July 27, 2010 @ 2:05 pm | Reply

  6. Great post! I recently read an article on the importance of getting out there and selling as opposed to relying on the internet and modern techniques to carry you through in the world of sales. These two points go hand in hand; sometimes its better to go back to the basics. Like you mentioned, usually old ideas, concepts and methods are still floating around in present day because they have a proven track record of actually working. In the same respect, while internet has opened up a world of endless technological possibilities – it also allows people to hide behind a computer screen. How much more effective do you think a sales person would be if they had to come face to face with their prospect and revert to the old teachings? I can guarantee they would be ten times more effective. They have yet to teach a computer how to elicit emotion like a human. I couldn’t agree more with the notion that sometimes the best way is the proven way not necessarily the quick and shiny fixes of the present day.

    Comment by Nora — July 29, 2010 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

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