As Expected, Sales Training Ecosystem Continues Consolidation Trend Never Seen Before
We have been predicting that the sales training landscape would undergo substantial consolidation for two years now. Given the fragmented nature of the industry, intensifying competitive dynamics and need to innovate like never before in order to meet rapidly changing client needs, consolidation was the only thing that made sense to us. It’s always nice when your predictions turn out correct. Earlier this month, Hammond, Kennedy, Whitney & Company (HKW), a private equity firm, announced that its portfolio company, Corporate Visions, completed its fourth add on acquisition. Corporate Visions is a leading marketing and sales messaging tools and training company which HKW acquired in 2010 as a platform.
Since being acquired by HKW, Corporate Visions has made four acquisitions with the most recent being Launch International, a communications company specializing in marketing and sales enablement content. Prior to this, the company acquired Executive Conversation, the leader in business and financial acumen sales skills training; BayGroup International, the leading negotiations sales skills training company; and WhiteboardSelling, a pioneer in visual storytelling for improving sales conversations and presentations. The other active consolidator in the space has been Miller Heiman which was acquired by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners in 2012. Since then, Miller Heiman has made eight acquisitions if you count the five training assets it acquired from Informa, the leader in the space in the early 2000s.
With all the activity from Corporate Visions and Miller Heiman, its hard to not ignore the few others who have failed (or chose not to) to make similar moves. For example, Richardson Group, which was acquired by private equity firm Clearlight Partners in 2006 has not done a single acquisition. Likely a statement that putting together two businesses in the space with varying methodologies and go to market strategies doesn’t always make strategic sense. Additionally, SPI, another leader in the space, has not done an acquisition since buying out its previous private equity backer, Merit Capital.
It continues to be an exciting time in the sales training world and we believe that this consolidation trend will continue over the next 12-24 months. Given all the private equity involvement and general lack of participation from large strategic buyers, it will be interesting to see what the ultimate exit strategy will be for these firms. Our guess is that many of these firms will continue to switch the hands of private equity firms for years to come.