Why Great Sales Trainers and Consultants Are a Breed Apart

We celebrate warriors who put themselves into the arena, who deal with the grit and dangers of everyday battle.

We honor people who roll up their sleeves, as the expression says, and get down to work. “Mere intellectualizing,” or “Contemplating your navel,” is looked down on, at least by many in American society.

This bias, favoring the doers, and not the bystanders, analysts, and especially critics, gives rise to expressions such as: “Those who can do; those who can’t do, teach.”

But, of course, if this is true, the obverse must also be true: Those who do, cannot teach.

Teaching requires special skills, to be sure. Just think back to your school days, and consider that out of 20, 40, 60, or even more instructors, there were perhaps a handful that were “good,” let alone inspiring, or exceptional.

That physical education teacher of yours who was fond of yelling and shaming kids into activity was probably quite a good athlete in his day, but his decision to be a teacher was misguided, to say the least. Physical prowess, doing if you will, didn’t translate into instructing, helping, and motivating kids to develop their physical skills.

In the same vein, top salespeople are often the worst sales trainers.

Like that overbearing physical education instructor or coach, they simply cannot understand why everyone isn’t as agile and gifted on the field, as they were. This leads to impatience and disrespect all around.

Invite a talented painter, sculptor or composer to speak and to share some insights about the sources of his inspiration with an audience, and he’ll probably bomb, because he’s not a public speaker or a teacher. His artifacts must speak for themselves, or inspire others, teachers and trainers to analyze and synthesize and then package and present the underlying principles or mechanics to learners.

Certain larger than life individuals make history, while others make it their job to record it. The former are historic, and the latter are historians.

Seldom can you find them in the same being. Churchill and Nixon were both capable chroniclers of history, and they also contributed to it, but these “crossovers” are rare.

If you find a great salesperson who is also a fine sales trainer, he is someone truly as special as he is exceptional. To be both, however, he has to do the sales mechanics well, communicate them and their rationales to others, but most important, he has to be free from his own day to day biases about what works and what doesn’t, for other people.

He cannot say: “This worked for me so it must work for you,” because if he does, then he is no better than that jock who couldn’t coach well.

The ideal consultant is someone who can do both. He has succeeded in the trenches, so he’s credible, but he also has the ability to suffuse others with his know-how and enthusiasm.

And while most sales managers are hesitant to champion the idea of bringing in consultants, they should, especially as trainers, because it’s very likely those managers rose to their rank because of in-the-trenches sales achievement, and not because of training, motivational, or administrative skills.

Developing people is a specialty, in selling and in any field, and it deserves our respect and support, and above all, our understanding.