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Selling training services

Part 1 - Alice, the Cheshire Cat and the art of selling training services

By Brian Griffin, Managing Director of Selling Services

"Which way should I go from here?" enquired Alice.
"Well, it very much depends where you want to get to", replied the Cheshire Cat.
"I'm not sure where I should go."
"Then, it doesn't matter which path you take", retorted the Cat.

When it comes to pushing your business forward, do you ever feel like Alice? You try a little bit of this, and then a little bit of that: sure your efforts do generate some business, but your visits to the Mercedes showroom become less frequent and reluctantly you conclude that the old banger is going to have to stay in the family for yet another year. Irritatingly, everyone else boasts about how their order books are bulging, whilst you could swear that your phone's been cut off.

It's so baffling! You've got considerable expertise in your field; you've prepared lots of training programmes; you've attended 1 day seminars on how to market your business; you've consumed far too many early-morning working breakfasts; you've sent out your loverly brochures, yet the world is still not beating a path to your door - what on earth is going on? Maybe this marketing/selling malarky is a bit more involved than you first thought!

Let's first look at two quick definitions:

  • Marketing - the management process responsible for the identifying, anticipating and satisfying of customer requirements profitably.
  • Selling - the act of helping individual buyers commit to a solution that accurately addresses their specific needs.

So, Marketing is planning it, whilst Selling is doing it.

Without a plan of action, it becomes extremely difficult to know where to start selling your services. Consider the planning necessary for a simple car journey. You need to have a plan that covers: where you want to get to; which route to follow; approximately how long it will take to get there; sufficient money; how much extra time to allow for setbacks; assuring yourself that your driving skills are up to it; and letting any passengers in on your plans. So why do you skirt around all of this when it comes to promoting your business? This is the very livelihood of you and your family!

"But I am a training professional," you cry. "Most of the selling that I've seen is unethical and is just not for me. I'm above all that."

Well, you say you are a professional. And as such, your primary responsibility is to do only what is right for your client, even if this requires you to argue the case sometimes. For example, imagine if you rushed in to your doctor and demanded 150mls of penicillin. Should the doctor give you - the client - what you've asked for or should he say "Wait just a minute, why do you think you need this?" In your professional role, you are in just the same position as your doctor. His code requires him to bring you to an acceptance that his recommendation will be right for you. So, if you believe that your training is likely to improve your client's situation, then you are morally obliged to argue your corner. If he accepts your point of view, you know that he will benefit; if he rejects it you know that he will suffer. Therefore, there are only two choices open to you, the professional - help him commit to your solution or you must walk! If he comes to agree with you, then you've "sold him".

Unfortunately, prospective clients' natural scepticism, plus any previous unhappy experiences, can make it extremely difficult for you to get a fair hearing. Your task is to break down these barriers and open his mind to the view that you could well be of value to him. How to do this? By acquiring and applying the principles of "Paracetamol Selling" in which you only attempt to get the Prospect to buy if your skills truly are likely to ease his headaches. Your task is to find sufferers that your "medicine" can treat.

Visit Training Reference every fortnight to collect your next steps of how to build a strategy specifically designed for the smaller training organisation.

Topics that we'll be covering will include: creating a simple plan of action; raising your visibility; where and how to find potential clients; how to gain appointments with them; exploring their needs to find what you can service; making them excited about your contribution; devising "Proposals" that the Prospect is keen to buy; identifying just who has the authority to say "Yes"; matching your personality to theirs; helping them to buy in to your solution; turning existing happy clients into advocates; and increasing client loyalty, plus several other issues as we progress. We also shall invite your comments and questions, and aim to post detailed answers on the site.

"However, if you can't wait, just visit and register on-line for a totally free 30 minute phone consultation, in which we will discuss your specific situation and suggest simple, inexpensive ways forward - we'll even pay for the phone call to your landline!

By Brian Griffin, Managing Director of Selling Services

© 2007 Selling Services. Reproduced with permission. Any opinions or views contained in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Training Reference.

Please note: Training Reference is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites. 

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