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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

How important is Sales Education?

I don’t usually preamble a Sales Blog with my ‘qualifications’,
so the fact that I tell you, Dear Reader, that I have worked in Sales Education for 30 years, is significant.

For more than a decade I have wrestled with a really thorny question.

How important is Sales Education?


Here I included both Training as well as Coaching; and both Skills and Knowledge.

I am, I have been, and will continue to be VERY critical about much that is sold and delivered as Sales “Education”
most of it is, for the want of a better word, “BUNKUM”,

if you run your Thesaurus over that great word Bunkum you get:
Nonsense; Claptrap; Twaddle; Hogwash; Humbug; and Codswallop.

None of these words are too strong, to describe such ‘education’ as:
Always be Closing, Handle Objections, Never Discount, ‘steps’ of the sale, or the Sales ‘Gene’ theory.

Yet, that is not my worry.
Younger, and smarter, salespeople, with ‘Big Data’ tools and Analysis Apps can spot these dysfunctional selling skills in days,
rather than practice them fruitlessly for decades!

My worry is one which is facing Educators world-wide, and NOT just in Sales.

It is this:

Does Education really make a difference in Productivity?

And its subsidiary question:

Does Sales Productivity depend on Sales Education?

We have generations of Sales Educators,
Trainers and Coaches who have offered their “evidence” that Sales Education is the key to Sales Productivity.

But, they all have a vested interest in finding the positive correlation. I confess Guilt.
I have shown proof that MY Sales Education correlated with improved Sales results.
I have shown relationships between my Training and/or Coaching and improved results.

But, I have never answered my own question:

Does Sales Productivity depend on Education?

It is only since 2010 that I have delved into this question.

Here I share my results.

    • The best educated Sales people do not always make the best sales people.

    • The best educated Salespeople does not lead to Corporate Success.

    • Poorly educated Salespeople can be TOP Sales Performers.

    • Corporate success is linked to having the right Education, not the best.

Education, as I am presenting it, includes but is not limited to: Schooling, further education College/University, Continuing Professional development [Sales Skills, Product and Marketplace Knowledge, Negotiation Skills]. It includes Formal and Informal education as well as structured, semi-structured and self-directed Learning.


The conclusion has to be that Education=Productivity is a myth.

And, a very expensive myth as Sales Education is a multi-billion Dollar business.

Poor Sales performance CANNOT be explained by IGNORANCE,

because the ‘ignorant’ often sell and the ‘educated’ do often not sell!

Poor Sales Performance is NOT attributable to a “Lack of Education”;
nor is Sales Productivity the result of Sales Education.
We have to look deeper, and think a lot harder,
rather than simply prescribing “Education” by Training Knowledge, Skills or Coaching.


Before we run our next expensive Education program,
before we burn Valuable Salespeople’s, and Sales Manager’s time on Coaching,
we have to ask ourselves, and answer honestly

Does it really matter?

Or should you work on another aspect of Sales Performance?