The Professional

There’s been a raging debate in one of the forums I follow – “Can anyone be a great sales person?”  It’s a loaded question with no clear answer, and the back-and-forth comments show a split among numerous contributors.  The problem with the question is, it leaves too much to the imagination.  There is no context; type of people, are they already  in sales, do they have trainers and coaches, and how much time do they have to become great? (The list could go on)

While reading some analogies given about athletes, it occurred to me that great athletes  do possess a genetic advantage, however, they also spend their life training.  The average high school varsity player (far from professional) spends all week training in order to play one two-hour game!  But in sales, the average player spends 1 day training to compete the other 364 days/year (minus whatever  weekends and holidays/vacations you actually completely disconnect from your Blackberry – which is rare these days).  How can sales managers expect their team to win with this kind of training regiment?

Am I missing something?  I’d love to hear your comments…

© 2010, David Stelzl


2 thoughts on “The Professional

  1. Dave,

    This is so true that I laugh as I read your piece. Any personal/professional development of substance I want/need comes at my own expense. And as for training; the reality of what most employers have demanded is manufacturer required training to uphold a required certification to be called a special metal partner! And that style of training is nothing more than product feature benefit stuff. To be fair I did take some manufacturer’s sponsored training a few years back around account deep dive that was done by a third party and was two and one half days. It was great…nothing new or some big paradigm shift but really what this lifetime sales professional wants to do. Learn the company; the people in the company and all intricacies that make them tick and be successful. Learn who really owns what assets! Owners now refer to that as account management or farming…fine. Those roles have vanished this decade… However when interviewing or discussing a new year’s account plan no matter what comes out of their mouth what you need to be doing to survive is hunt, hunt, hunt. I get that so don’t get me wrong but where did the time tested knowledge of the cost of acquiring a new customer versus keeping and growing with an existing one go? I had the good fortune to work for one of the big three carriers for a number of years and whether it was a good year or bad year we were required to spend 10% of work time annually in instructor lead classroom training. We had hundreds of courses to choose from and it spanned the spectrum…Business writing classes, to professional speaking, Miller Heiman , Graduate level course and I even remember speed reading. Talk about keeping your tools sharp. Anyway thanks for the topic and listening…Keep up the great work.

  2. Thanks for the comments Jim – In many cases, with smaller technology companies it may be a lack of understanding and experience – but it’s one of these things you would think people would realize – people grow with great training and it’s cheaper than hiring new people.

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