Getting Real About Sales Training

by Jacques Werth, Founder of High Probability Selling.  © 2006

A Conversation with Phil

This morning I got a phone call from a man named Phil.  He said that he is a fiber optics engineer and he is currently earning $84,000 - plus benefits.  However, his company is closing their fiber optics division in a few months, at which point he will be out of a job.  So he is thinking about going into sales.

I asked, “Why?”

He said that there isnít much of a market for fiber optics engineers due to over-expansion in the industry.  And, he has been in that specialty for so long that he is not really qualified for other types of engineering jobs at a level that will match his current income.  Therefore, he figured that he ought to get into sales.

Again, I asked “Why?”

He said, “I did some research, and read that the average mid-level salesperson with a large company is earning $155,000.  Since I have an out-going personality, and Iím pretty persuasive, I figured that I can get that kind of job.”

“Okay,” I said, “why did you call us?”

He said, “Well, I donít know exactly what a salesperson does.  So, I figured I should get a little sales training first.  And, I asked a couple of the top salesguys for our company and they told me to contact you.”

“What do you mean by ‘a little sales training’?” I asked.

“Well, I was told that prospecting is one of the most important parts of selling, and I want to know if I buy your complete set of MP3s and the workbook, will that make me a good sales prospector?”

I said, “No it will not.  It can be useful as a refresher for an experienced salesperson.  However, that set of prospecting MP3s and the workbook are merely recordings of one of our instructors leading a six-session prospecting course.  The recorded part of the course is about 9 hours.”

“As a listener, you have no opportunity to discuss anything with the instructor, or to design prospecting offers and participate in role-plays, or get personal coaching and customizing of the course for your products, services and markets.  Those limitations are clearly spelled out on our order form.  The MP3s and workbook only costs about $175 dollars.  And, thatís about all it is worth.  Besides, that is only the prospecting part of our sales training course.  The Selling part of our training is just as important.”

“Iím a pretty smart guy,” he said.  “If other people can learn it by participating in your teleconference training, I should be able to learn it by listening to them learn it.  I figure once I know how to find High Probability Prospects the rest will be easy.  I canít see spending all of that time and money just to learn how to sell.”

I asked, “Do you really think that you can invest 9 hours of your time and $175 of your money and then get a sales job where you can earn $150,000?  How much time and money did you invest to become an engineer making $74,000?”

He replied, “Becoming an engineer is different.”

I suggested that he contact Pinnacle Group USA to determine whether he has the right stuff to make it in sales.  When I told him that a Pinnacle Survey would cost a few hundred dollars, he wanted me to sell him on that idea.  I decided to terminate the discussion because it was a waste of my time and it was obviously of no value to him.

You might think that conversation was exceptional.  It is not.  For the entire 17 years that we have been in the sales training business we have encountered hundreds of people, including veteran salespeople, who actually think that by spending a little money and a little time, they can be earning what top salespeople earn.  If it were that easy, everyone would become a high level performer, and then the bar would be raised.

Now, let us look at the reality of earnings in the sales profession.  According to research published in Sales & Marketing Management magazine last year, the total annual compensation for salespeople at various levels of performance are:

  1. Low-level performers average $65,000.  Sixty percent of salespeople are considered low-level performers.  More than half of them earn less than $65,000.
  2. Mid-level performers average $93,500.  Thirty percent of all salespeople are considered mid-level performers.
  3. High-level performers average $155,000.  They are in the top 10 percent.
  4. Our own research indicates that the Top 1 Percent average about $810,000, with some of them earning upwards of $2 million.

Letís get back to what, for most salespeople, is reality.  How do you get to be a Top Performer, earning upwards of $150,000?  Conventional wisdom says that you work harder, or you work smarter.

So, if you are in the 30th percentile, earning $65,000, do you think that if you work twice as hard you can earn $130,000?  If so, you are not working very hard now.

If you work twice as smart, can that enable you to go from $65,000 to $130,000?  Yes!  In most cases, it can Ė if by “working smarter” you mean that you will learn and skillfully apply a totally new and far more productive sales process.

That probably has you thinking, “Okay I can do that, but what is the cost?”

The tuition cost of the combined High Probability Prospecting and Selling course is currently under $1,600.  It consists of 21 Instructor-led Interactive Teleconference Sessions of 90 minutes each.  The sessions are taught twice a week over a three-month period.  There is homework required, also.  A maximum of 10 participants are admitted to each course.

Anytime you feel that you need to repeat any part of the course, you can do so at half of the current tuition price for that part.

A Conversation with Florence

A few days ago, I got a call from a High Probability Selling graduate named Florence.  She called to ask my advice about a new market that she planned to target.  After we finished that discussion, I asked how she is doing.

She said that she first took the High Probability Selling course at the end of her second year in sales, when she was just getting by.  In her third year, she doubled her income.  2006 was her fourth year and she has more than doubled her third yearís income.  Now she is hiring two part-time assistants so that she can double her income again next year.

Florence may participate in one of our courses again this year.  She does not expect to learn anything new, but she does expect to get a deeper understanding of the High Probability Selling process.  Florence is an exception, in that most of the salespeople who enroll in our training have been in sales for at least five years and have been making a decent living.

Most of them had already tried all kinds of tactics to improve on the sales methods they had been utilizing.  They realized that they had reached the point of diminishing returns.  Then, they decided that only an entirely new sales process could catapult them up to the earnings level of the high-performers.

Ninety-four percent of the people who participate in our training read our book first, and recognized that High Probability Selling is a radical departure from how they already knew how to sell.  When they decided to enroll in the sales course, they made a significant commitment to themselves and their families.

It's your life.  It's your income.  Are you ready to make that kind of a commitment to yourself and your family?