If you’re at the beginning of your career and applying to jobs, you’ve likely come across the classic chicken or egg problem. Many entry-level jobs will ask for experience, which puts applicants just starting out in a tough situation. You may wonder, “How do I start gaining experience if I’m required to have some sort of experience to even qualify for my first entry-level job?” It can be a frustrating Catch-22 situation.
Fuel Sales Academy, a sales training program, proposes that it could be the solution to this problem. The Academy was created to fill in the gap between eager, quality people who could really succeed in sales, and the knowledge and requirements needed to land that first job. Unique in its “Earn While You Learn” model, Fuel Sales Academy gives students experience in the field of sales while they’re still in the program, at no cost to the student.
Where Fuel Sales Academy Began
Fuel Sales Academy was created by Daniel O’Reilly to meet a need that he saw in the industry. As a salesman himself, he recalls having little to no training when he began his sales career, selling perfume bottles and vacuums door to door.
“It was a rough start to sales,” he says of his experience, “I didn’t have anyone to help or teach me. They dropped me off on a corner and said ‘Go sell these products, here’s a script.’ The information I got was about how to sell that product in particular, not about the nature of sales, or how to be a salesperson.”
O’Reilly says this is a common experience for many starting off in sales. They are told to sell something without a background in methodology. They’re given a stiff script without guidance on how to make the process of selling their own.
Later in his career, he worked in consulting, helping small startups and medium-sized businesses put together processes to produce more predictable and scalable revenue. When these companies were ready to go into a growth phase, he had a hard time finding quality salespeople.
That’s when he realized that the problem wasn’t the lack of quality salespeople, but rather that they were coming up against the same issues that he had when he started out. People were jumping into sales trying to figure it all out on their own, armed with a basic script and minimal training.
According to the school, a salesperson could come in for an interview with years of sales experience on their resume, yet still lack proper training. This poses its own challenges to their sales career. Without proper guidance, salespeople are bound to struggle with sales fundamentals, tools, and techniques. Eventually, they may be discouraged and decide to leave the industry—even if they had the passion and high potential to succeed in sales.
O’Reilly notes that Fuel Sales Academy was started for two big reasons. Firstly, to help students acquire the skills they need to have a career in sales and secondly, to help companies find great hires.
According to O’Reilly, hiring early-stage salespeople can be a huge risk for companies because they are investing time and money on new members that most likely would not end up becoming productive team players. The other problem is that it takes most companies anywhere between three to six months to determine that an employee is not a good fit. That means hiring mistakes in this area could have a huge effect on the revenue for the company. Fuel Sales is providing the companies with proven assets that ramp in weeks instead of months, thus lowering the risks for employers and expediting the time to revenue.
This is how Fuel Sales Academy was born. It serves as the bridge between people with great sales potential and the companies that need great salespeople by giving the former the education, training, and experience they need to jumpstart a fulfilling career.
Teaching Students How to Sell
Fuel Sales Academy is interested, more than anything, in teaching the methodology behind sales. They don’t want to put words in their student’s mouths or give them scripts to follow, but rather, provide them with the know-how behind making effective sales and the relevant driving forces.
When a student is given a script and is limited to that script, it’s difficult to transfer those skills onto the next product or sales opportunity. Students don’t know why they’re saying those words, what the meaning behind the process is, and how to use the success of one sale to enhance future sales.
Fuel Sales Academy believes that if they share the how and why of sales success with their students, they’d be able to put their personality in the script and make it more genuine. They’d then be able to adopt the same approach for future opportunities because they now understand the methodology and what they’re trying to accomplish each step of the sales process.
This prepares students for high-level sales positions that can come from a better understanding of sales as an industry with a driving force behind it. Fuel Sales Academy is more interested in consultative sales than trying to push a product—that means understanding someone’s needs first and working with them to find the right solution.
What Is Education Like at Fuel Sales Academy?
Fuel Sales Academy is an intensive program–according to the school only 50% of the people who start the program graduate from it. But this isn’t a bad thing.
Fuel Sales uses an “Earn While You Learn” model for its Accelerator Program, which means students can try their hand at sales without incurring a high financial risk. The Academy charges companies for placing students with them upon graduation, and because of this, the training is free for students.
Let’s break down the programs offered at Fuel Sales Academy.
Sales Development Foundations
Education at Fuel Sales Academy starts with the Sales Development Foundations, free training that covers the fundamentals of business-to-business (B2B) sales.
The Academy believes that everyone has different learning styles and to ensure the best outcomes for all students, live instruction is its go-to teaching model. The program also doesn’t use any pre-recorded materials or tests in any part of the curriculum.
This program is a great option for early-career professionals. They will gain the skills required to engage a potential customer, understand their issues, and set qualified appointments.
Sales Development Accelerator Program
After completing the Sales Development Foundations, students move on to hands-on learning and on-the-job training in the Sales Development Accelerator Program. This is where the “Earn While You Learn” part of the program comes in, where students are paid to use the skills they’ve learned in the Foundations course.
Because the Academy charges companies for placing students with them, the training is vocational, in that students are supporting partner companies by generating leads and they are being paid to do so. In this part of the training, students receive daily support in group meetings and weekly one-on-one coaching with sales leaders.
Fuel Sales believes that you have put in the work and prove that you can successfully deliver in order to be considered a graduate of the program. It is said that the hardest part of sales is the mental game. To prepare for a sales development representative (SDR) role, students will have to be comfortable in the real-life environment of sales and determine if it’s the right fit for them.
Once students have demonstrated success for four consecutive weeks, they will be considered ready to graduate. The school will start introducing them to job opportunities and partner companies. This method allows companies to evaluate potential candidates better, with tangible proof of their success in sales, rather than basing it all on the resume.
Job Placement Assistance
Fuel Sales Academy has a roster of partner companies that it has vetted extensively to ensure that they will be a good fit for students. The school engages with the companies to understand their culture, management style, the kind of ongoing training they provide to employees, and the opportunities for improvement.
Some of its partner companies are Branching Minds, Companion Protect, Custom One Truck Source, Denim Social, esolutions, eSpark Learning, Heartland Payment Systems, ISPN Network Services, LaborChart, mySidewalk, NoRedInk, Optimally, Pear Deck (GoGuardian), RFP360, Seesaw, Shamrock Solutions, Staffbridge, Symplr, TouchNet, VeriShip (Sifted), and WarehouseQuote.
After meeting the four-week milestone of success, the school’s talent management team works with students on their resume and interview skills. They will be presented with relevant opportunities that Fuel Sales Academy is working with at that time. They will be put through a standard interview process with the companies they’re interested in and presented an offer.
This will be supported by the Fuel Team, who will coach them through the whole process. If the student isn’t interested in current opportunities, the school will continue to present options as they become available, while the student continues to work/train with Fuel Sales and get paid while they are in the placement process. The ultimate goal is to land a job with a full-time salary and a commission role with one of the school’s partners.
Get Involved with Mission-Driven Work
Another thing that makes Fuel Sales Academy stand out is its partner companies. The school collaborates with companies working in the ed-tech space, with an emphasis on K-12. Because of this connection to technology in education, there is a lot of real-world passion behind the type of sales made.
The partner companies are generally committed to community development and helping educators teach and work with children. There’s a real mission behind the companies and a passion for helping the community that is folded into the sales representative role.
What Is Required of Fuel Sales Academy’s Students?
Anyone can apply to Fuel Sales Academy, but there is a structured application process involved. The school is looking for candidates who are diverse, mission-driven, and passionate about working in sales. It’s an intensive program, not well-suited for those pursuing a temporary career in sales or simply looking to bridge the gap between other careers. The school only accepts candidates who are serious about wanting to get involved in sales development.
To apply to the program, potential students have to fill out a survey questionnaire. After that, they will be contacted for an interview with a sales manager. If they pass, they will start their Foundations class. At the end of the program, students will need to pass a role-play session with the instructor before they can move on to the paid Sales Accelerator program, which will evolve into a vocational program.
Students only need access to a computer and internet connection in order to be a part of the program and Fuel Sales Academy takes care of the rest.
A Unique Sales Opportunity
Fuel Sales Academy has several components that make it unique: students learn at zero cost, students gain job experience while they learn, and students get paid for that job experience.
The school actively vets partner companies and pairs students with their ideal SDR roles, ones that bring about real-world impact.
For those looking to launch their careers or searching to transition into sales but unsure how to approach the industry, Fuel Sales Academy provides an excellent opportunity for you. Its programs are meant to equip you with the right education, training, and experience, bridging the gap between you and the sales job you want.
If you’re ready to take that first step, you can visit the website and fill out an online form.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.