The State of Sales Training in 2012: Top Trends and Takeaways

sales trainingOn December 7, 2011 ESR delivered a webinar presentation on the state of sales training (download the MP3 or PDF—free registration required). It was an hour full of valuable intelligence and insight for sales training companies and sales trainers in corporate L&D organizations. Here are some of the points I made during the event, but first, a quick review of 2011. (A look at 2012 and beyond will follow in Part 2.)

  • Sales training spend was up during the first half of 2011, then down during the second.
  • 63% of companies ESR surveyed during 2011 spend less than $3,000 per sales rep per year.
  • More and more companies cut back on travel, requiring virtual sales training alternatives.
  • We saw some strategic acquisitions:
    1. Mercuri International acquired the business simulation company, Celemi.
    2. Miller Heiman acquired channel management specialists Channel Enablers.
    3. The TAS Group acquired sales performance improvement provider InfoMentis.
  • We found larger sales training companies going broader in solution scope, adding capabilities in many areas, such as ROI, business acumen, talent management and more.
  • Many smaller sales training providers consolidated their offerings going more niche. Smart move during a challenging economy.
  • In general, our opinion that sales training companies make lousy marketers was proven yet again. There are notable exceptions, such as Miller Heiman, Richardson, and RAIN Group.
  • Training companies need sales leads as much as companies in any other sector.
  • During 2011, ESR saw increased demand for process and sales training content in coaching (for sales management) and selling to the corporate procurement function.
  • Our sales training buyer community still has a tough time differentiating one sales training provider from another. (That’s why they come to ESR.)


Here is what generated some buzz during 2011:

  • Jeffrey Gitomer is writing the ASTD Sales Training Drivers blog.
  • Tom Searcy, author of RFPs Suck, took over Geoffrey James’s blog (formerly Sales Machine) and is now writing for CBS.
  • Geoffrey James, who recently published How to Say It: Business to Business Selling: Power Words and Strategies from the World’s Top Sales Experts, now writes for
  • A few good books were published, including The Challenger Sale.
  • The TAS Group released their Dealmaker Index.
  • Some sales experts invested time and effort in social media—CustomerThink,, Quora, LinkedIn Groups, and Twitter among others. The question is, will it pay off?


Be sure to catch Part 2, where I will share with you which companies ESR believes are leaders in numbers of different areas. Don’t want to miss it? Then subscribe to this blog:

Sales training expert Dave Stein is CEO of the ES Research Group. This post originally appeared on the ESR blog. Image used under Creative Commons by Flickr user wovox.

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