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Stuart Banbery

Interactive Software


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How to think like a Salesperson to sell more training courses (Part 1)


Did you know that the training industry has a lot in common with the advertising business? No? How so? Well, both want to reach an audience, convey a message and ultimately, change behaviour.

In last month’s blog we looked at the Top 10 simple but effective Marketing techniques being used by high-performing training providers. So this month I thought it made sense to look at the next step in the process – Sales.

Successful advertisers appreciate that most people don’t want what they have to offer. We all respond to traditional “push” advertising by skipping through TV commercials, unsubscribing from emails or recycling leaflets without even reading them.

All industries must accept the fact that most people don’t want what we have to offer. When was the last time you heard, “I can’t wait to attend that training session,” or “I’m a lifelong learner and I just love training.”

So, how do those clever advertisers get our attention - and more importantly, get us to turn on our tablet and buy their product online - before the ad has even finished. The answer, they identify a need.

Ask yourself, what are you really selling? Are you really selling a half-day in-house training course or an eighteen-month off-site high-level Management qualification? Or are you selling compliance, confidence, competitiveness, growth, opportunities, performance, results, solutions and success? These satisfy a need for your target market and translate into tangible business benefits.

So, we’ve established that you and the training you offer need to solve a problem, scratch an itch, satisfy a need, deliver clear business benefits – in short, become an extension to their organisation – this is known as consultative selling.

In consultative selling, the sale is not an end in itself. The consultative sales process is focused on what the customer needs and wants, and the potential value they see during their interactions with you. It’s not remotely about your product, your business, your numbers – and it’s definitely not about you.

Typically, there are six principles to the consultative sales process:  

1.      Research

2.      Ask

3.      Listen

4.      Inform

5.      Qualify

6.      Close

So let’s take a look at the first three, one at a time.


Before you can sell your training and services you needs to reassure the prospect (the lead) of your integrity, reliability and understanding. Consider the issues at all levels of the client’s organisation, including strategic, departmental and individual needs.

Put yourself in the shoes of your clients Sales and Marketing Director who is seeking to understand their own customers’ needs and wants, these might include compliance, new legislation, the Government agenda and new opportunities.

If you have training management software with integrated CRM then you will have gathered tons of data on your leads, like company size, pages visited on your website, previous interactions / enquiries, email preferences and social media behaviors. This will tell you what problems and questions they have topmost in their minds.


When you speak with the lead, be sure to ask open-ended questions. As that you have all this detailed information on them as a result of your research and CRM, it’s tempting to assume you know everything there is to know about them. The point is to allow the lead to volunteer the information as part of the trust and rapport you are building.

The goal of asking questions is to slowly discover what the lead’s training, commercial and business goals are, the plan they might have to reach those goals, the challenges that are in the way of executing this plan, and the timeline that’s in place.

Also, try and get an idea of budget and the level of authority of the person you’re talking to.  Are they an influencer, a decision-maker, or the person who controls the budget?


Always be listening, it’s the skill that sets a great sales person apart from just a sales person. Be “present” and listen actively, ready to respond and ensure both parties clearly understand the situation and the lead’s requirements.

Document everything that the lead tells you using keywords and bullet point that you can write-up later and enter into the CRM element of your training management software. But do not stare continuously at your notepad and write down everything they say word for word.

All of the information you obtain will help you shape your training offering to the market, your marketing campaigns and customer communications, and ultimately to qualify and/or close the lead.  

Hopefully that’s given you some useful takeaway ideas that will allow you to to go away and start researching your target market and planning the initial stages of your own Sales methodology. These early stages are crucial and will provide a sound foundation for the final three steps in the process, which we'll look at later this month. Just by doing the basics well, you can make a significant impact on your business.

Next time we'll consider the final three steps in the consultative Sales process, including how being informative can help position yourself as a trusted business partner and potential solution, how to handle qualified and unqualified leads, and the most important part - closing that sale.

Developed in collaboration with leading L&D partners and fully-accredited by the Learning and Performance Institute (LPI), ATMS (Achiever Training Management Software) is a robust, powerful and scalable solution for the training provision sector. ATMS utilises the latest technology to enable training providers to drive profits through communications and conversion, reduce costs through automation and visibility, and manage courses and customer experience across multiple touch-points.

Discover more useful ideas for training providers on Twitter and Linkedin.

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Stuart Banbery


Read more from Stuart Banbery

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