Musings from 35,000 ft on Sales Training

John Ruvolo
Aug 28, 2014 · 3 min read
Nice view if you can get it

It’s been 2 months back in the working world running sales at Martini Media and I'm on a flight back from LA. Greg Coleman and Sean Finnegan are both on this flight as it happens — the online media world is small and it gets smaller the longer you're in it.

I was out in LA to give the last of 4 regional training sessions to my new team on strategic account planning and meeting preparation. Outside of closing business, training is probably the most enjoyable aspect of my job. I don't know if it’s because I’m the son of a teacher or it’s the intense time together I get with the team, but I always leave a training session feeling more confident and assured that I’m spending my time wisely on this blue marble.

As is the case with most of my transcontinental flights, I take the opportunity this alone time presents to collect my thoughts (although due to certain alimentary ailments my contemplation is not aided by American’s paltry Whisky collection). I remembered that I wanted to try out Medium and so here I am.

I begin to wonder why training and development is so universally desired from our sales teams and why it is equally so universally absent from most companies, particularly in our space.

Why is that? Why are we so obsessed as an industry with the new thing or acronym but we neglect to provide our people with even rudimentary processes or tools to place said shiny object in the proper context for our clients? 10 plus years in this industry and I still don’t have an answer. As with many unobjectionable concepts, everyone pays lip service to training, but in the final accounting it comes up wanting for investment everywhere.

The cost of a bad or unproductive seller for most companies is literally in the millions when you factor in opportunity costs. Millions. That sort of mistake might be absorbed if your’re a Yahoo or AOL but if you’re a single site publisher or adtech startup it could be the difference between profitabliity and a down investment round — or even worse. Are CEO’s not aware of this? If they are relying on their head of sales to guide them, are the CROs and SVPs unwilling to make the argument for it?

I’m genuinely puzzled. What I do know is that ultimately our little industry is going to grow up and the investment gravy train will slow down. Years from now when the music stops — who is going to be having the adult conversations with marketers? Will it be a once-young 40 year old seller who hasn’t been given useful training and finds that entertainment and free jeans aren’t as persuasive as they used to be? Or will the machines have eliminated that poor soul years before?

    John Ruvolo

    Written by

    I'll see you up in the air. Chief Revenue Officer, Martini Media.

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