The Ultimate Guide to Finding (and Choosing) a Sales Training Program
By: Ashley Artrip
Breaking into a new industry with little-to-no experience can be challenging and demoralizing. The good news is, once you get that first job, progressing to your next gets easier and easier — the first hurdle is just the hardest to land. That’s why Silicon Valley has become obsessed with bootcamps and training programs that give entry-level employees the skills, resources, and connections they need to land their first job. Today, there are training programs and bootcamps not just for coding and app development, but also for industry-specific sales and marketing positions. We’ve put together the ultimate guide for finding and applying to the best sales training programs for your goals.
Remember, there are plenty of companies out there that lure aspiring salespeople in but don't have strong job placement after graduation. To find a sales training program that can actually land you a great job with an equally great salary, you’ll want to consider the following factors.
Here are five questions you should ask yourself before choosing a sales training program.
1. Do you want an online training or an in-person program?
There are pros and cons to both options: in-person training programs tend to be shorter and more intense, while online sales training programs typically last longer but allow for more flexibility. If you have other obligations, such as a part-time job, an online program is probably a better option. Conversely, if you can afford to dedicate yourself solely to the training for a month or two, a full-time in-person program will shorten the turnaround time to starting your new job.
When making this decision, it’s important to be aware of the time commitments that both options will require. Even online programs require 15-20 hours per week, and have rigorous standards for quality of work and deadline adherence. SV Academy, for instance, requires 300 total hours of SDR pre-training, which includes an internship with a large SaaS company during the fellowship.
Additionally, a major factor for choosing between sales training programs is location. Many online programs, such as SV Academy, allow students to complete the curriculum remotely, but then match students to jobs in only a few locations. Conversely, most in-person training programs only do job matching in the immediate geographic area surrounding the academy.
2. What is the program’s business model?
Your first assignment as an aspiring salesperson is to examine the efficacy of your potential programs’ business models. The most common bootcamp business models are:
- Free tuition but you pay a percentage of your salary to the program after you land a job
- Free tuition and your new company pays a fee for access to graduates of your program
- Fee-based tuition
Within options one and two, most programs either guarantee job placement or are so highly regarded that only a very small percentage of graduates don’t match with a company.
Option three should generally be avoided. A good sales training program will have confidence enough in its program to take on the financial risk of you not being placed with a company upon graduation. If the company won’t take on this risk, then it’s probably not a very reputable program. A good training bootcamp will believe that it’s only successful if you are - and this will show through in their mission and revenue model.
3. Does the sales training program have guaranteed job placement?
This is a key differentiator between programs. After investing months of your time and intellectual energy, you want to know that the outcome will be worth it. Make sure that the program you choose doesn’t just showcase select students who end up in great entry level sales jobs, but in fact guarantees that all students who graduate are placed in relevant jobs.
Programs that work with employers tend to be very rigorous but also have the best outcomes. Graduates get placed in jobs where they are set up to succeed, because the curriculum was designed in tandem with the employers’ needs. Make sure you’re not just looking for any job placement, but for good job placement.
4. What is the sales program’s support system post-hire?
Keep in mind that you’re doing this bootcamp to launch a career, not just to do a 6 month stint in sales. The best sales representative training programs will coach and mentor you throughout your first year in order to ensure success and to identify career-building opportunities. Take a look at who the post-graduate mentors are and what post-hire services they offer. Post-hire training should include the mentor working with your manager, coaching you through difficult projects, and helping you find ways to accelerate your career the minute you start the job.
Learning doesn’t end when you get a job; it continues throughout your career. Because most sales bootcamp graduates are entering their first ever job in sales, it’s important that programs offer continued training and coaching to ensure on-the-job success.
5. What do graduates of the program say about it?
Any sales training program will have a system for connecting prospective students with graduates. Take advantage of this, and ask questions about all of the above: the time commitments, business model, job placement, and average starting salary. Additionally, ask graduates about how satisfied they are in their current position, how well prepared they felt for the job, and how easy/difficult they felt the job placement process was. Ultimately, what they say should guide you the most in your decision-making process.
Sales Training Programs Can Make Your Career Or Completely Stall It
Getting into a good sales training program can be the first step to launching you into a fulfilling and long-lasting career. However, the wrong program can be a waste of both time and money. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to make an informed decision for your future.
Elaina Ransford contributed to this article