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On-the-job training helps workers excel in sales

CareerBuilder | October 5, 2020

Tips for sales managers

Learn how training can help improve the effectiveness of your sales teams and what skills they need most to succeed.

Many people pursue a career in sales because of the wide range of opportunities available. It's also a promising field because of the growth it experienced post-recession and COVID-19 — the U.S. recovered 296,972 sales-related jobs out of 803,118 jobs that were lost. The BLS U.S. Job Outlook (2019-29) projectes 4 percent increase in employment.

Yet despite the growth this field is experiencing, many employers are having a hard time finding skilled workers. In fact, a CareerBuilder survey found that 35 percent of sales managers currently have positions for which they can't find the right candidates. According to separate CareerBuilder research, 38 percent of sales managers say they are experiencing a shortage of skilled labor in their organizations, while 52 percent are worried that the skills workers have don't match available jobs.

Formal sales education not widely available

Perhaps part of the reason why hiring managers are struggling to find qualified candidates is that people aren't getting a formal sales education. In fact, only 274 colleges and universities offer a degree in sales. In comparison, 559 colleges and universities offer geology degrees and 1,571 offer psychology degrees, two majors that have fewer job opportunities tied to them.

It's true that many people begin a sales career without having a directly relevant educational background, because skills are often learned on the job. Yet, gaining these valuable skills in college can only help to better position a worker for a successful career and make him more attractive to hiring managers. In fact, CareerBuilder research found that 50 percent of sales managers say candidates for entry-level sales jobs are only somewhat prepared or not prepared at all. So those job seekers who come with prior sales training have an edge.

Workers learn through on-the-job training

The solution for companies is to find cost-effective training programs that can make an impact on their sales team and ultimately on the company's bottom line. One such solution is Moneyball, a cloud-based product for corporate career training and development, by CareerBuilder and Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. The tool is designed to capture the traits and perceived abilities that a salesperson possesses.

Through a detailed assessment program, Moneyball helps sales representatives and their leaders identify the strengths and weaknesses of individual team members to generate a customized development plan for each salesperson. Multiple lessons are offered in 10-minute modules and are accessible anywhere -- via PCs, smartphones, tablets, etc. -- to accommodate busy schedules.

The 10-minute modules are designed to provide salespeople with advice they can use when working with their customers. Moneyball also measures each sales representative's performance and determines areas for development based upon the skills identified as most important for reaching goals at the company.

Companies that invest in training programs, such as Moneyball, will help narrow the skills gap and ensure they arm themselves with a highly skilled sales force that will lead their business to greater financial growth.

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