Turbocharge your Sales team: Choosing the right training supplier

Having agreed your budget, timetables and topics, it’s time to choose suppliers.

Of course your company will almost certainly have used sales training suppliers before and may well, on the basis of satisfactory past performances, turn to them again. Or a sales director may ask for a particular trainer to deliver particular courses.

Nevertheless, you should do rather more than simply phoning them to agree delivery dates. If you have little choice in selection, ensure the supplier attends pre-course meetings where content and method are discussed and agreed in depth.

One or more sales directors or managers should attend too, to engage in the selection and agreed delivery process.

Top tips for initial supplier selection

  • Know your budget
    Your budget will determine what type of training you offer, how often and when. It will also determine what trainer you use. Before you even consider the actual training, you need to know how much money you have to spend. Look at all potential sources of funding, such as departmental developmental budgets. If the training is needed for a ‘special’ reason – for instance, following a merger or acquisition – talk to the HR director about one-off funding.

  • Draw up a detailed specification of the training requir
    Don’t go near a potential supplier without knowing exactly what training you need. If you approach them without a detailed specification, chances are you will end up paying for something you neither need nor want.

  • Decide how you want the training delivered
    This will depend on a number of factors. How many people do you need trained? Would you prefer to train them individually or in a group? Online or in person? Will their workloads permit full days away from the office? Sit down with the candidates’ line managers and make sure you have a thorough understanding of how this training can sit alongside existing work commitments.

  • Draw up a list of the qualities a supplier should have (such as track record, references, accreditation)
    Remember – you are the customer. Budget allowing, you should make a point of getting the trainer you want and need. It’s a bit like interviewing a job candidate – sit down and make lists of ‘must have’ qualities and ‘would like to have’ qualities, then shop around.

  • Invite four or five suppliers to pitch for the work
    Getting suppliers to pitch for the work is the only way of seeing how they compare with one another – and whether or not they measure up to the claims they make on their websites. It’s also a good opportunity to meet them in person (invite at least some of the trainers, too), to see if they fit your organisational culture.

  • Meet a mixture of sales training companies and individual sales training consultants
    Individual sales training consultants tend to be former sales people, so their experiences are valuable. Sales training companies may, on the other hand, may be more up-to-date when it comes to actual training techniques. See a mixture – your choice will depend very much on who you need trained, and what style of training you need.

  • Ask them to present demo lessons
    Seeing trainers in action is invaluable when it comes to deciding whether they are best suited to your people and their training needs. Demo lessons will give you a good idea of not only the content, but also the delivery style.

  • Ask about training materials
    Different types of training, and indeed candidates, will demand different materials. Decide in advice whether you want your staff to receive pre- and post-course materials, and ask to see examples of both, along with the actual course materials.

  • Discuss if and how suppliers will provide continuing back-up over an agreed period
    Ongoing back-up is more likely when the training is of a technical nature, such as IT, but may also be relevant for sales technology, such as customer databases and new telephone systems. When it comes to learning about new technology or processes, continuing back-up – and updates as the system develops – is crucial.

  • Ensure senior sales people are present
    When you have potential suppliers pitch, make sure your senior sales people are there – they, more than anyone else, will know exactly what training is needed. And it’s good to have their buy-in from the outset.

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