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Humans have been conducting sales for, well, forever. Bartering and trading dates back to 6000 BC, but it wasn’t until the 18th century that different types of sales became specialized across industries. Fast forward to today, and the sales profession has exploded.
Now, we don’t just sell goods — we sell services, automations, and software, too, and we have endless tools at our disposal to find new leads and turn them into customers. Last year, there were millions of new business applications filed. New businesses need technology and solutions, so the need for a deeper, wider pool of sales talent to sell those solutions is more apparent than ever.
With the evolution of the sales role, psychology and understanding of human desire and connection has become a core meta skill of the trade. Building and maintaining relationships is the key function for anyone in sales, but fresh talent entering the industry don’t always have that capability from the jump.
Luckily, the online learning industry has evolved at an equally fast rate. As a result, numerous virtual sales academies were created over the last decade. These programs boast world-class curriculum that places newly skilled salespeople in roles and sets them up for lucrative, lifelong careers.
The following five virtual sales academies are shaping the future of learning while training future generations of sales professionals. Founders or operators of virtual academies, bootcamps, and learning communities can draw inspiration from these programs and the profitable businesses that have been created around them.
5 sales academies that are shaping lives and the future of learning
Bluebird is a newer sales accelerator program out of Montreal, Canada. Members have the option to pay upfront or use an income share agreement (a model coined by coding bootcamps like Bloom Institute of Technology) to pay for the course, in installments, only once they have landed a job and begun their new career. This model unlocks access to education that many wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. Expanding access to career advancing training is a cornerstone of the future of learning.
Bluebird’s immersive sales course consists of 6-weeks’ worth of live lectures full of hands-on sales training. According to their website, members can expect to learn:
- Tech sales fundamentals
- How to fill your funnel with inbound sales and leads
- Conducting research and determining customer personas
- Sales call techniques and how to bounce back from objection and rejection
- Coaching for career advancement and job search
Bluebird has its finger on the pulse of Canada’s booming tech sector; with growth for the 2021-24 period expected to be about 22.4%, the need for skilled professionals in every facet of the industry is crucial — and Bluebird has the capacity to place newly trained salespeople at some of the top companies in Canada.
Hyrise was one of the first programs of its kind, leveraging a successful coding bootcamp model to create an immersive, intensive sales curriculum. Two years later, Hyrise Academy places newly trained, highly capable candidates in open roles at companies around the world and helps to reskill and upskill current sales employees at these organizations through corporate training.
Their ultimate goal? Train 10,000 sales professionals by 2030. By turning traditional learning models on their heads, Hyrise has set a precedent for what the future should look like in the learning industry.
With their goal of upskilling 10,000 sales professionals in mind, co-founder Dominic Blank and his team made a pretty massive change to their business model in order to create sustainable growth and a dedicated community:
“We knew we had to change something, especially since our mission is to enable people to have a career they love through access to skills, and we didn't really provide access, because paying for that access stood in the way,” Dominic says. “So something had to change. We did a complete change. Not what we do, but how we do it.”
This change was substantial: Today, to attend Hyrise Academy, you pay nothing. That’s right — $0. The Hyrise team believes nobody should be barred from accessing this type of career advancing curriculum. Instead, they monetize the placement and recruitment services used by companies who need fresh sales talent. Dominic says:
“All you have to do is you apply and we help you find out if tech sales is for you or not by giving you access to a bunch of resources, from helping you take a course to simulating real sales activities to offering feedback. We have a big pool of companies working with us and now, we can provide them with the amount of talent they really need to substantiate their candidate pipeline for the positions they have.”
Once admitted to Hyrise, learners are immediately immersed in community learning. These more intimate subgroups allow learners to forge closer relationships, utilize peer-to-peer feedback, and establish a network they can leverage long after the program is over.
“I think the bond is strongest between the people that you are going through the program with, but that's also where you learn the most: the peer to peer feedback,” says Dominic. “You get to listen in on their call to see how they approach email or how they go about lead discovery with their prospects. That's where a lot of the learning comes from during the program. Afterwards, you can connect on a peer-to-peer basis.”
The Hyrise Academy formula is exemplary of what the future of learning looks like: uncapped, unabashed access to education at no cost with tight-knit communities to learn from and lean on. It’s the opposite of more traditional educational models, and we know now that a degree alone isn’t enough training to launch a successful career.
To be a standout candidate, folks need intensive, expert-led training and a network of connections that share those aspirations.
Hyrise Academy is well on its way to not just upskill 10,000 sales professionals, but changing public perception of different learning methods and who can access them.
Uvaro Tech Sales
“From hired to retired” is Uvaro’s promise, and their selection of cohort-based courses aims to make good on that promise for any aspiring tech professional.
Uvaro Tech Sales boasts a comprehensive selection of tech sales curricula, but it designates courses to different roles under the tech sales umbrella, including Tech Sales Foundations, Customer Success Management, Sales Leadership, and Account Management.
Creating a distinction between these courses and their curriculum ensures that anyone who joins these courses is on the career path they want to be on and that they receive the training needed to be successful. It also finishes what traditional college “majors” aim to do — put students on a particular career path. Where colleges and universities tend to miss the mark is leading with practical application that cuts out the fluff and teaches folks what they need to learn to start a lifelong career. That hands-on training isn’t something you tend to get in a typical classroom.
We’ve seen other courses like School16 create distinctive career-track courses successfully. Read about their journey here.
Beyond allowing members to specialize in a particular career track, Uvaro’s success has been heavily marked by fostering a tight-knit community. According to their website:
“Live cohort-based learning is focused on collaboration. Basically, you’re grouped with 15 to 35 peers who attend the same live classes and study with you. Think of them as your elementary school bathroom buddies, only the bathroom is a sales course, and you aren’t there to avoid nap time and gossip about who likes who. Not only do you get study buddies, but many hiring managers recognize cohort-based learning programs as the superior learning format as it’s proven to help you retain information better, and build an internal resource network.”
The future of learning is only as successful as the learning communities that thrive within it, and Uvaro is an example of what it means to incorporate building a network into practical job training.
The sales pipeline doesn’t start and end with the same person. Presales is a critical step in the sales process, and many organizations are investing in building entire presale teams.
According to Hubspot, “Presales support refers to the distinct activities that occur before the sale has been closed. This typically includes qualifying, proposing, and renewing deals.” Someone in presales can help manage an influx of leads and determine which of those leads has the prospect of really becoming a customer.
PreSales Academy believes presales is the best job in tech, and it’s their goal to retrain thousands of sales professionals to successfully vet leads and set potential customers up for success. “PreSales is the best part of Tech Sales: No cold calling or negotiating, high variety of activities & experiences, high impact & high reward, and hands-on technology,” boasts the PreSales website. Through their comprehensive training, members will gain the necessary skills to find one of the most in-demand jobs in tech.
They also boast that most graduates start their first job post-program with a 6-figure starting salary, so this training is both relevant to the growing sales role and lucrative for newcomers.
Their live eight-week program combines self-paced work, group-based work, and live instruction which is a different model from other sales accelerators and bootcamps. It’s also a trend we’re seeing as the learning industry explodes: the distinction between different methods of learning within the same program.
Some courses thrive on purely live instruction or only asynchronous work with occasional check-ins, but PreSales Academy combines different styles of learning to create a comprehensive understanding through self study, group study, and learning from expert instructors for well-rounded training.
Like Hyrise, SV Academy makes career training profitable and scalable for both the people looking for roles and companies looking to hire them. Though SV Academy’s business model distinctly separates these two programs, their messaging is clear: one can’t exist without the other. When fresh, eager talent is created, businesses can meet their scale goals.
It’s a cohesive model that appears to be working well for the San Francisco-based academy. Over 2,000 learners have enjoyed SV Academy’s training, coaching, and job search support in tech sales or customer success. In just 4-8 weeks, the program guarantees you’ll have the education needed to find a job within 6 months. If you don’t? You owe them nothing. Rather than using an income share agreement model, SV Academy offers members the option of a deferred tuition model (and there are a few differences between the two) which continues a trend in the learning industry of creating more opportunity to access education and pay for it only while you enjoy the benefits of that training.
For businesses, partnering with SV Academy gives you untapped access to trained, coached, vetted talent that is ready to fill roles and begin their career. The model is cyclical, and SV Academy has done their own bidding on the sales front to create lasting relationships with the businesses that frequently hire their grads — 400 and counting, according to the brand.
What sets SV apart from other academies or bootcamps we’ve looked at in the sales sector is their commitment to diversity and inclusion of underrepresented groups. Sales tends to be heavily white and male-dominated, so SV Academy seeks to accept people from minority communities into their program in an effort to diversify the sales industry at large. More than 76% of SV Academy’s graduates belong to an underrepresented group, so the program is having a direct impact on what future sales professional populations will look like.
Creating more diverse, inclusive industries is a responsibility any founder or operator of a cohort-based course, bootcamp, or academy assumes. By making the pointed decision to work directly with communities or groups that often go underrepresented or by creating payment plans that allow ungated access to immersive career training, the future of learning isn’t just more comprehensive — it’s also representative of a more diverse and inclusive society.
Watch the future of learning unfold from the founders and operators creating it in real-time
As the learning industry continues to explode and alternative options to traditional education continue to thrive, new founders and operators have wonderful models to look to for inspiration on business modeling, course design, community cultivation, and shaping the future of learning.
Every week, we pick the brains of founders and operators of Learning Empires across the world that have already created successful, sustainable learning businesses, be them virtual or in-person. Click here for a recap on past conversations.