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The Evolution of Sales Training
Internal versus External
Even as Wilson was building his company and the founders of firms such as Sandler, Miller Heiman and Acclivus were building theirs from 1965 to 1985, internal sales training was starting to be taken very seriously. Companies such as Burroughs and Xerox put their new recruits through as much as six months of training before they were allowed to meet one on one with a customer. The Xerox program was so effective, it was marketed successfully to other companies for many years as the Xerox Learning System.
As corporations continued to build in-house sales training capabilities into the early 1990s, third-party vendors were progressing into new areas such as sales opportunity management and political and competitive strategies.
"Sales managers and training departments were also realizing that one training course did not meet all the competencies required by salespeople and therefore began to cobble together multiple vendors into multilevel sales training curricula: individual skills and product knowledge, opportunity management, large account management, and sales messaging and content," said Rick Page, The Complex Sale CEO. "Single-product training vendors began expanding their offerings to address multiple levels and training needs."
The divergence of in-house and third-party approaches still exists today. Much of the in-house training curricula is product-, market- and company-centric and focuses on basic sales skills. Many companies engage with third-party providers for advanced skills training in large-account management, opportunity management, competitive strategy, team selling and sales management, as well as the processes that support those functions.
As the 1990s progressed, more and more third-party vendors began to customize their solutions to meet the specific needs of their clients.
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