C’mon, Dave — who is the best sales trainer?


It’s a question I’ve been asked again and again by journalists, sales leaders, sales training company CEOs, corporate learning and development executives, consultants and those evaluating sales performance improvement providers for their own companies.

Most of the time, they aren’t happy to hear that it isn’t a question I can easily answer. There isn’t any person or even a single company that’s “the best.” It depends completely on the company that needs the training.

This is just some of what I need to know before I would ever begin to think about recommending a long list or providers.

About Your Company

  • What are your company’s annual revenues?
  • What is your go-to-market strategy?
  • Market segmentation?
  • What do you sell? Products? Services? A combination? At what price point? At what margins?
  • What geographic territories do you cover? In what languages? With what local cultural requirements?
  • Who are your competitors? Are you the market leader or the underdog?
  • Will your corporate leaders support a business transformation? How effectively was your last initiative executed?
  • What are your business goals and objectives for the coming quarter, year, and next three years?
  • How much time, resources, and money are you ready to invest in this initiative?
  • How would you describe the culture of your company?

About Your Customers

  • How do your buyers buy? Through an RFP process? Reverse auction? Traditional evaluation?
  • How long are your customers’ buying cycles? Three months? Three years?
  • Are their buying processes complex or transactional? Are decisions made by diverse committees or individual buyers?
  • To what positions in your customers’ companies do you sell? CFO? CIO? VP of manufacturing?

About Your Current Situation

  • What do you think your biggest sales challenge is?
  • How effectively do you sell now? What percentage of sales reps are at or above quota?
  • Through what channels do you sell your products and services — field sales, inside sales, resellers, franchisees?
  • Do you compete on price, innovation, service, quality, speed?
  • Why do you win? The best product? Price? Brand superiority? Sales capability?
  • Why do you lose?
  • What resources are required to support a rep — product marketing, technical, business, engineering, executive?
  • How are leads generated? By marketing? Are sales reps expected to generate their own?
  • What sales processes and tools do you currently have in place?
  • How are the sales organization and the company structured — central control or distributed?
  • What compensation and incentive approaches do you employ?
  • How well do the first-line managers manage? What gaps exist in their skills and capabilities?
  • Do your managers coach effectively to a process?
  • What analytic and measurement systems are in place? How accurate is the data? How do you use it?
  • Do you employ a formal talent management solution, including a recruitment and selection process?
  • What special skills, if any, are required for sales effectiveness? Technical skills? Political selling? Financial acumen?
  • What technology, if any, is currently supporting the sales function? CRM? Sales 2.0 tools?
  • The current state of sales training
  • Are you thinking about sales training strategically or tactically (disparate training events)?
  • Which trainers have already worked with your company? What worked and what didn’t?
  • What learning mechanisms and tools are presently in place?
  • How diverse are individuals within the sales team with respect to experience, skill, effectiveness, business savvy, age, learning preferences, required traits, etc.?
  • In what manner does your company typically engage with consultants and training companies?
  • Do you prefer live or virtual training?

These questions represent a subset of what should be the basis for selecting the best sales trainer for your company. But here’s the catch: If you asked VPs of sales from 100 companies these questions, you would get 100 entirely different sets of responses. I know. I’ve done it. And that is precisely why I know there is no such thing as “the best” sales trainer.  

There isn’t any person or even a single company that’s “the best." It depends completely on the company that needs the training.