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Training IS Sales!

Over the years I have come to appreciate that whether we are preparing for a face-to-face training delivery or designing elearning, there are direct correlations between training and sales. We all know that we need to engage with our learners so that they ‘buy in’, and looking at training from a sales perspective has been extremely helpful. There are three specific points to consider.

1. We need to ‘sell’ the idea that we are credible sources of information. We’ve all attended training where we lost (or never had) confidence in the trainer. If we do not trust that the person attempting to teach us either ‘knows their stuff’ or understands how it applies in the real world, this is an insurmountable barrier. Selling our credibility might begin with a short introduction, however it needs to continue throughout the course delivery. Once we lose it, we lose the learner. First, we need to sell us.

2. We need to ‘sell’ the idea that training is good for the individual and that it will help them. Too much training (whether classroom or online) can be seen as either irrelevant or else delivered ‘because we need to do it’. Such box-ticking only ever serves to disconnect the learner. Compliance training is often the toughest to ‘sell’, and we need to shift our perspectives away from delivering the content to the benefits for the learner. There is a benefit to solving this problem; if we demonstrate that we understand the (operational) needs of the learner, and can align the content to supporting them, we not only ‘sell’ them the course but we increase our credibility because we clearly understand the challenges that they face.

3. Lastly, we need to ‘sell’ the information. There is no point in engaging the learner by building credibility and interest, to then lose them with a delivery that prevents them from ‘owning’ the information. If the information we are delivering is a product, we want them to be able to walk out the door with it and be able to ‘show’ it to other people. This is incredibly empowering for them, it evidences effective training spend and supports personal and professional development as well as helping to create a learning culture. We need to be able to package our learning so that it is clear what they are walking out the door with and how it can be used.

The moment that I realised that ‘training is sales’ my entire approach to delivery changed. Instead of focusing my course design on the topic, I started paying more attention to how to get the learners to ‘buy in’ and remove their objections to learning the material. This created more than students, it created ‘raving fans’ who then became advocates of the training in their organisations.

Richard Diston MSc MSyI is a learning and development professional as well as subject matter expert on security, risk management, leadership and coaching.