I have a question for you. Actually a few. How many people you know have received sales training in high school or college? How many colleges have a sales degree or even just sales classes? Off the top of my head, I can't think of any. I did some research and the only programs that I could find that have sales training in their curriculum are online or are very small. Look at this list of most common jobs in America. How many times do you see "sales" come up? Furthermore, how many of the other jobs require some sales training or sales skills to be successful? Customer service, waiters and waitresses, cashiers. All would do better at their job with sales training. The list goes on and on.
So let's recap. Sales is not only one of the most common jobs in America, but many other positions incorporate sales skills into their daily routine. And there is a shortage of sales training in higher education and below. There must be reasons for this lack of training, right?
Reasons for no sales training
The main reason for no sales training comes down to society's perspective on sales. Salespeople were traditionally viewed as slimy, deceptive con-artists that only cared about hitting their quota. It was society's view that customer pains and needs were not prioritized by the salesperson. But technology has changed how salespeople and customers interact. The development of technology and the internet has led to more transparency. Sites like Glassdoor and Bravado now provide ratings for companies and individuals. So now, if customers has a bad experience with a company or salesperson, they can publish the details online to air our their frustrations and alert others to stay away. As a result, salespeople have had to change some of their practices to avoid the slightest possibility of having their reputation tarnished online. It is now in the best interest for someone in sales to be honest, empathetic, and consultative. Especially in tech, this has changed the way salespeople interact with customers and generally led to better relationships. However, schools have not caught up to this shift in perspective. Culture and social norms are classic "slow-moving institutions," which when paired with generally rigid education structures, can lead to a lack of changes to reflect the needs of society. There is still a general distrust of salespeople, even more so than politicians, which definitely plays a role in the lack of formal sales training.
Now, education systems don't deserve all of the blame for not incorporating sales training into their curriculum. There is also a lot of uncertainty in sales. Sales scripts are constantly changing. Definitions of success vary by industry and company. What works for selling insurance may not work for selling SaaS. So it is certainly challenging to create a sales cookbook that solves the problems that are inherent to the general sales profession. But there are still concepts and training that could be easily implemented into a course. 4 factors of impulse, question-based selling, etc., could be woven into lectures and drills. Since usually the best way to learn something is by doing it (especially when you're selling a product or service), sales training would require a high level of engagement from the students and would thus likely require smaller class sizes.
So what's the solution?
Well I can't answer that. It's a tough question. Here are a few ideas. Schools could outsource a class-like experience to a company like Always Hired Sales Bootcamp. This seems like it would take a lot of effort on both sides and would probably fizzle out. Next. Schools offer a sales class for one quarter of the year. Either one or multiple professionals in sales commits to teaching a single class once a week for a few hours. Entirely possible, but doesn't solve the perspective issue. Next. A well-respected professor in the communication department incorporates sales training into a general or corporate comms class. This seems the most likely of the options I provided. However, does this really accomplish a lot in terms of training?
What do you think? Do any of those options make sense to you? Do you have any other ideas for solving this problem? Is this even a real problem? Go comment on our social media to provide your opinion!
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