Spencer Green on Sales: Sales Training

Can anybody sell? It’s a common question: doctors get asked about random pains, comedians get asked about jokes, I get asked about business, leadership and, inevitably, sales.

Baseball Pitch

Life is a lot more than a pitch, but you still need a good one.

I took this from an interesting blog:

‘Dave Kurlan’s pioneering sales assessment company, Kurlan & Associates, has crunched the numbers on half a million salespeople in the last 30 years. The results make for a very sobering read.

According to Chris Mott, the company’s president of corporate training, 25 per cent of all those sales people are “functionally un-trainable”. Take the balance of what’s left and “anywhere from 20 per cent to 50 per cent aren’t worth investing in”. Your return over the average employment timeframe will be too small.

All of which means you only have 25 per cent motivated, trainable, focused sellers in front of you.’

Is that true? Really? I would have serious questions for my senior management if this painted an accurate picture of our sales department.

Once a company reaches a certain size, a percentage of any departments will not be operating at full speed on any particular day. That’s human nature. That one quarter of a department is “functionally untrainable” is an issue for management. Take a look at yourself, take a look at HR, and work out which one of you needs to go sit in the corner.

To me, it’s the same for the 20-50 per cent. How did that happen? Sales teams often need to be surrounded by positive noise: a buzz (or whatever you choose to call it). Sales can be a difficult job, and that 20 per cent are not scoring is okay, if they provide the dynamic environment that enables others to do so. But 50 per cent…

Sales is an easy department to measure (at least in terms of end-result, mood and culture are topics for future blogs). If 75% of that function – effectively your engine for growth – is not capable or, even more damning, not worth investing in, then sales training is the last thing you need.

Start your checklist with eyes, ears, pencil, paper.

Can anybody sell? The answer, I believe, is another question: can anybody be passionate? That’s why you need the eyes and the ears. They will tell you all you need to know about a good sales floor, or effective sales people. The pencil and paper are for writing down what you paid out, and what you’re paid in.

Yes, it’s more complicated than that – but not until you’ve got more than 25% motivated and focused.


About Spencer Green

Spencer Green founded GDS Publishing Ltd in October 1993 to specialise in industrial, government-led publications for the burgeoning Chinese market. The company launched over forty business-to-business titles, was name-checked alongside Tony Blair on China’s national news as ‘best for Chinese business’, and – following a move into India – deemed to be ‘of national importance’ by the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. In 1998, GDS Publishing became GDS International and launched its first conference, Enterprise China. The hugely successful Enterprise series of conferences was rolled out across China and Latin America in the next two years. In 2000, GDS International launched its first Senior Executive Summit under the ‘Next Generation’ banner. This became the catalyst for nine years of 25% year-on-year growth... and 40% growth in 2010. In 2011, GDS held over 70 Summits for C-level Executives from a wide range of industries and across the globe, and eight digital marketing conferences. Today, GDS International is determined to become the world’s no. 1 business-to-business media and services company. It’s going to be an exciting journey! Spencer is married to Emily. They have two children, Finlay and Maya, and live in Bristol, UK.
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