Two Benefits of Taking Time to Take a Sales Course

  1. If you’re new to business development, a sales course will give you the tools you need to succeed.

After my career in the Air Force I hired on with a great aerospace and defense company.  I was really excited about this and proudly told my father that I was now in business development.  Dad was a retired paint salesman and he smiled kindly and said, “Welcome to sales.”  Surprised, I responded, “No, I’m in business development.”  He asked me what I would be doing.  I outlined it for him.  Dad smiled again and added, “Like I said, welcome to sales.”  Duh.  That began a ten-year conversation with a man I always respected, but not always listened to. He became my mentor as I (slowly) learned the finer points of the art and craft of sales.

So you’re new to business development and you’ve on-boarded and gotten acquainted with your company’s processes and procedures.  Likely they’ve shown you highly-detailed program coordination and business capture processes. These are good for sorting out who does what to whom in complex deals, but they don’t give you specific sales tools to connect with and close customers.  It’s like you’re expected to already know these skills or they don’t matter. I remember receiving a lot of compliance courses in my defense industry career – the “what not to do” stuff.  All very important, but there wasn’t a specific course on “what to do.”  New hires were assigned to experienced business developers, who received their sales training in the School of Hard Knocks.  Many were indifferent mentors.  I needed a sales course.

  1. If you’re experienced in business development, a sales course will help reinforce the things you’re doing right and improve the things you could be doing better.

Okay, you survived your OJT apprenticeship in business development and began to make a career of it. You’ve had ups and downs, wins and losses.  Sometimes you won a big sale in which, despite your efforts to the contrary, you could do no wrong.  And sometimes you lost a sale in which you had everything going for you, but nothing went right.  Why? Was it inside politics, an utterly ruthless competitor, not your turn – or was it because after all these years no one’s taught you the fundamentals of sales?

I know business development golfers who spend inordinate amounts of time on the practice range with instructors – not to mention insane amounts of money on their equipment – to get small ROI in vectors and velocities.  Yet these same business development professionals tend to show up in their meetings with customers for multi-million dollar deals without warming up. Huh?  Assuming we all agree that selling requires skills, why not take a sales course and get a tune up?  And if you’re mentoring new hires, take them with you.  That might be the most valuable thing you could do for their careers – and yours.

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