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Seb Anthony

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attracting corporate buyers of training


Thanks Tim for this quote...

So how does a trainer get accepted by the corporate market?

Things have changed somewhat from when I first ran creative thinking courses in 1990 but, even then, reputation helped independent trainers secure business. The challenge then, as now, is maintaining a regular flow of business year in and year out.

With so many players now in the market, it must be very difficult for HR buyers to make decisions. Presumably where referrals come in.

Apart from taking the (very) long road (slowly building a reputation through speaking engagements and articles), or working as an associate with a preferred supplier, or using normal sales & business development skills, is there any other way to make it easy for HR buyers (to make it easy for the trainer!)?
Euphrosene Labon

2 Responses

  1. Some thoughts
    As a corporate buyer (and sometime external consultant) it can be incredibly difficult to find suppliers (especially those able to operate globally – or at least travel).

    Good suppliers or consultants are like gold dust. No matter how good the offering, customer service and cost still count for a lot. It’s still staggering how poor customer service can be even in a saturated industry. Even getting one person on one course can be a challenge.

    I know I’m not saying anything new but consultants or vendors who try to understand something about the business are invariably more impresssive than those who start with a sales pitch.

    L&D and HR managers get phone calls all day long from suppliers and our reputations are at risk if we choose a dud supplier. Building trust is important.

    A few well placed questions to understand the company’s strengths and weaknesses compared to its competitors, organisation structure, current changes or challenges in the business are far more likely to engage the corporate buyer than a ‘one size fits all’ sales pitch.

    Recommendation is also important. In the City for example there are informal networking groups and suppliers are often recommended. If you have a supplier in one industry that rates you, ask if they’re happy to be a referee for you.

    On a positive note, often individual consultant or small associate companies are often far easier to deal with than large training companies or consultancies and have the advantage for the L&D or HR manager that we know exactly who and what our client groups can expect.

  2. wonderful feedback Wayne
    For some reason the full quote (courtesy of Tim Douglas) never appeared: “Large corporate buyers of training have existing preferred suppliers and procurement policies that can be very difficult to break into.”

    I am inclined to agree with Tim (difficult but not impossible) but you have made a very important point of knowing your customer – or industry. Bob Bly and many other gurus recommend creating a niche ( vertical/ regional/ topic etc)which you mention Wayne.

    Networking within a trade association is also a good idea. But like most things, it means taking the ‘long route’.

    Personally, I think my 2006 marketing efforts will be with those where I have shares! Mutual benefit and company reports are an excellent way of getting information and tailoring courses to suit.

    [PS thanks Tim]


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