Can You Afford to Improve Your Sales Skills?

by Jacques Werth, Founder of High Probability Selling.  © 2004

Most full time salespeople spend very little money (or none) to enhance their sales skills.  The majority of salespeople - the lower 80% - often say that they “can't afford” to invest in a sales course.

In contrast, most of the top 20% of all salespeople read several sales books and take at least one sales course per year.  They constantly strive to enhance their sales skills.  They invest in themselves, and as a result earn upwards of $110,000 annually.

Ask ten salespeople that you meet during the next week what sales books they've read this year and what sales training they've taken.  The probability is that most have not read a sales book in the past year.  Most have not participated in a sales training course, unless their employer has required it - and paid for it.  Are you among that 80% that do nothing to improve their sales skills?

Let's consider a stark reality: About 60 percent of the people who enter the sales profession leave within 3 years.  In the Financial Services and Real Estate industries, that percentage spikes to over 80%.  The most common reason is that they can't earn an adequate living.  Of those that remain in sales jobs, less than half earn as much at the average truck driver.

Almost all salespeople who fail to earn inadequate incomes are among the 8 out of 10 that don't endeavor to improve their sales skills.

Here's an example of a salesperson on the fast track to failure.  This week, a salesperson asked me if we would give him a 50% discount so he could do our training course.  He said he couldn't afford the whole $745 tuition because he just spent about $2,000 on a one week vacation at the shore.  People like him will never be able to afford much of anything as long as they are in a sales position, because improving their sales skills is not a high priority.

Some salespeople do make efforts to succeed, but the sales books and courses didn't provide them with much, if any, improvement in their performance.  This is because they focused on sales methods that they already understood - even though those selling techniques are obsolete and ineffective.  They're sticking with what's comfortable to them, watching the top 20 percent pass them by up the ladder of success.

Top salespeople earn more than the average corporate CEO.  The reason is simple: Skilled salespeople are very rare.  The results of their work are of vital importance to almost all businesses, so they're in great demand.  Yet, most salespeople seem to think that they can acquire the skills necessary to earn that kind of money without spending any of their own money.  Can't they figure out that if it were so easy, good salespeople would be a dime a dozen?

Recently I wrote about a highly successful salesperson who we trained; she took the High Probability Selling course 6 times.  This is someone who earns a seven figure income.  Of course she can afford the training - that's not the point.  She feels she can't afford not to continuously improve her selling skills - that is the point.

Can you afford to improve your selling skills?