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Heather Townsend

The Excedia Group


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How every trainer can become a rain maker!


 In my experience most trainers would not describe themselves as rain makers - that's why so many of us choose business models where we act as associates for other training providers. I’m sure most of us have from time to time wished they could outsource their marketing to someone else - that would leave us free to get on with what we are good at - developing others. However, the smaller the training firm the greater the need for every fee earner, junior or senior, to play their part in the business development activities of a firm. Even if your training firm just consists of you (plus the cat), you have to get serious about your business development activities, otherwise you may find yourself heading back to corporate life.

In my view, business development is a team activity that every member of the training company (regardless of their size) should play a part in. I have yet to find a firm which gives everyone a target for business development activity – often marketing effort is expected to occur in the consultant's own time. Oh and no-one normally trains you how to do this, it's very often sink or swim... If you are running several workshops every week, how can you be expected to have the mental energy to be at peak performance on the business development front, week in, week out?

Often business development is seen to be the glory end of marketing and selling, i.e. the writing of proposals, clinching deals and pitching for work. In reality business development activity is anything that contributes to winning new business; this is everything from generating interest and awareness in the firm’s products and services, through to the glory moments of winning a competitive pitch.

This could be:

  • Networking – both face-to-face and on-line
  • Writing articles
  • Speaking engagements
  • Organising and running seminars (both face-to-face and teleseminars)
  • Conducting proprietary research
  • Spending time with existing clients getting to know them better
  • Market research
  • Attending industry conferences to understand new needs within the industry
  • Writing proposals
  • Writing and delivering pitches

If you read through the list of non-chargeable activities which contribute to business development, there is something for every trainer to excel at. The true technical specialists within the firm may relish the opportunity to write articles and contribute to on-line forums – but would be like a duck out of water if asked to go in and ‘sell’ to a client. (You probably wouldn’t want them in front of a client ‘selling’ as well!) The ‘sellers’ may get bored rigid conducting proprietary research, but love the opportunity to go out face-to-face networking.

If you think about you and your training business, how have you divvied up your business development efforts between the whole team?

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Heather Townsend


Read more from Heather Townsend

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