CXO

Add sales to your training toolkit

Instructors often have to act as salespeople for their training company simply because they deal most directly with clients. Schoun Regan shares some tips on combining classroom skills with sales know-how.


Teachers teach, salespeople sell, and managers, well, when you figure it out, let me know. Actually, if you put job titles aside, often it's the instructor that does the selling while the sales agent just assists in the deal. But why are instructors so often the primary sales agents, and if that’s the case, how can you make them more effective at sales when their primary job is to teach? Let's put our foot in the door before it closes and talk sales.

That question is covered in another class
When a student enters the classroom, it’s the instructor who interacts with him or her for seven or eight hours. The instructor needs to be prepared to answer questions that may not pertain to the coursework for the class, but that do pertain to the training company and its other offerings. Instructors become salespeople when students put them in that position. They need to know about your training business, its history, and other classes offered. Your instructors have to have knowledge outside of the software that’s being taught.

Train the trainer
Assuming your sales staff has weekly meetings, you should have an instructor attend those meetings. It’s important for instructors to understand the sales aspect of your business. This sales training will help them form statements and answer questions in a way that complements and showcases your business. Rotate the instructors through the sales meetings until each instructor understands your sales approach.

Make it worth their time
Another good way to inform your instructors of your sales techniques might be to have the sales manager train the instructors on a weekend. And, if you've read my columns before, pardon this repeat statement: The business should pay for employees to be there on the weekend if they've already worked a full week. The employer should also pay for breakfast, lunch, and anything else that may arise from employees being there on the weekend. You must make it worth their time to attend weekend training sessions.

Salesperson and trainer partnerships
Instructors should also be paired, if possible, with a salesperson. I realize this is not always possible, but look at it this way: An instructor has access to much more information about a client and that client's peers than the salesperson does. Having the instructor pass along that information is extremely beneficial to the salesperson. If an instructor knows the key points that the particular salesperson/partner excels in, the student's information can be harnessed efficiently and effectively as a sales tool.

Beware the follow-up
Having instructors do a follow-up at the end of the day along with the salesperson can seem like a high-pressure sales tactic. This action may result in the student becoming skittish about joining a plan or adding other classes to the roster. The trainer should never appear to be a shill for the sales force. The result could be a loss of respect and credibility for the trainer. Another area for trainers to veer away from is money. Never have the trainer talk about money with a student, since this also gives the impression of sales pressure coming from the wrong person.

Bottom line
Selling your training classes begins with a meeting or phone call, but it’s consummated in the classroom. It is the instructor who, by virtue of his or her talents, will influence the decisions of the students. Giving your instructor the confidence and subtlety of a good salesperson will keep 'em coming back for more.
We’d like to hear how you promote future training sales opportunities for your company. Do you have some ideas you could add to Schoun’s list? Please post your comments to this article below.

Schoun Regan is a consultant to training firms and travels across North America educating people for Complete Mac Seminars . If you have suggestions for future article topics, please write to Schoun .

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