Former The Apprentice winner Lee McQueen has teamed up with ex-Bytes MD Darren Spence to train and place salespeople in the IT channel.
McQueen won the BBC show in 2008, before setting up recruitment agency The Raw Talent Academy in 2011 to help inexperienced candidates develop in sales industries.
Spence set up sales training firm Sales Gym 360 in 2015 with 20 years' experience in the channel behind him, most notably as managing director of Bytes Documents Solutions.
The new partnership will see Raw Talent source and place sales candidates at channel firms, and Sales Gym 360 provide training programmes to fill in the gaps in candidates' skill sets.
McQueen (pictured, right) told CRN that the channel is currently guilty of bringing people into the industry without testing that they're adequate for the job, or providing them with the right level of training needed.
"Specifically within the channel, businesses are struggling," he said. "Raw Talent is about taking people who don't necessarily have the sales experience and developing them into superstars.
"The shortage of staff is rife across the board because people are not hiring based on attributes, behaviours and competencies - they're hiring based on whether people have referrals.
"They're not actually testing the candidates before they get into the business, so as an industry we're hiring them, bringing them into the business and then realising six months in that maybe they don't have the abilities to do the job."
McQueen, who had a spell at Capita before his success on The Apprentice, explained that candidates selected by Raw Talent are not assessed based on their CV, but on a series of "real-life" tests that will demonstrate whether they can function in the day-to-day sales world.
He said that the current model of bringing in a sales coach for a crash course as new salespeople start their roles has become dated as the industry focuses more on consultative selling.
"People aren't just focused on the money piece, they're actually focused on knowledge and becoming subject matter experts within their field," he said. "They're not just salespeople, they're consultants and to be a consultant you have to know your market, so that training element needs to be real and we have to put them in real-life scenarios.
"We're trying to educate some of the channel that there is an alternative to a guy coming in and training in front of a class of 10 new hires. It's about getting people driven to want to learn about that particular business.
"Between us, Darren and I have some extraordinary experience in the channel and sales, so we just want to freshen it up and make sure that the learning sticks."
Once candidates have been placed, Sales Gym 360 will offer nine training modules that will be completed over a period of six to nine months. Organisations can pick and choose the modules they consider appropriate for each employee.
Both Sales Gym 360 and Raw Talent already have a channel footprint, working with Bytes and Exertis.
Spence (pictured, left) said that the recent acceleration in new technology has made it more important for channel firms to train their own staff, rather than look to poach from competitors.
"Because the world is moving into cloud and the whole landscape is different you can't find people with 10 years' experience selling cloud technology," he said. "They just don't exist.
"As a consequence of that this whole idea of share shifting, taking from one company and putting them into another, is almost pointless because it's completely new technology."
He added that the channel has started to take notice of the success that Softcat has had with its apprenticeship scheme, but said that many firms do not know how to create something similar themselves.
"There was lots of poaching a year ago but the problem is it's very expensive and now they want long-term growth like Softcat," he said.
"The knowledge part of the sales piece just isn't there so the idea of growing your own salespeople is becoming more popular and what I've seen is companies taking on waves of graduates and people new to sales.
"Some have been successful and some haven't. What we've said is that Lee has a great recruitment company and Sales Gym 360 has developed a training programme that helps people who are new to sales get up to speed faster."
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