No Image Available

Stephen Walker

Read more from Stephen Walker

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Sales tools for training businesses


Stephen Walker takes us through the trainer's greatest challenge – how to attract new business. It is no longer enough to be good enough, now you have to be an expert.
No great training business can be effective without customers and that means having a good sales process. So many training businesses are started by people with specific expert skills, in guitar playing for example, but lack any ability in the sales function. Businesses close because they have no sales, not because they have no product.
You all know what a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) involves: an expertise in a subject or a delivery mechanism or any number of creative ways to mark yourself out as different. The USP helps you position your business and show the potential client why you are the right choice for their purchase.
This article explores how your expertise can be used in your sales processes.

Different types of expertise

The first type of expert is somebody who has learnt by practical experience how to do something. This expert may have been successful once, or hopefully a number of times. This expertise is often based in a particular situation and may not be easy to transfer to another environment. It is also a fact that being able to play the guitar is not the same as being to teach someone to play the guitar. The sports world, for example,  is awash with good players who became (short-lived) bad coaches.
The second type of expert is an avid reader. They have studied the texts on guitar playing and usually combined this with the ability to teach. The academic approach is very effective to teach people how to do straightforward things. You can train people to understand the subject and deliver some value.
The big expert, the guru, is someone who combines practical experience, academic study and the ability to make a difference to your behaviour, to effect a transformation in your life.
Brendan Burchard, quoted in Alan Stransman's book, calls these Results, Reporter and Role Model Experts.

How to show expertise

The last person to get away with "I'm the greatest" was Muhammad Ali. Even he showed his results expertise by saying "I'm not the greatest; I'm the double greatest. Not only do I knock 'em out, I pick the round."
For those of us not on the world stage we have to show our expertise in different ways. Webinars, podcasts and similar media are a good way of going from desktop to world stage. It is easy to do, the software is free or low cost and the barrier to entry is low. That there are no arbiters of quality tends to deter people from believing too readily. You need to deliver extraordinary value through these, which is not always that simple.
Article writing, as opposed to advertorials, does have the credence of an eagle-eyed editor overseeing the content. People prefer to read articles published on merit rather than on cost. My own articles are an example and they help to build my credibility as an expert.
Videos, through YouTube, Vimeo and so on, can be a good way of showing not just what you know but who you are. Remembering that people buy from people, a video can be an effective way of establishing rapport between you and the prospective client.
Last but most importantly, books still hold a strong expert value. Barry Duddy has put an interesting slant on this and used his book 'Personal Best' to raise funds for the Buy One to Give One not-for-profit society. Experts want to be associated with the ideals and so work with Barry to promote the book.


There is a strong self-publishing industry in the UK. You write your book and pay for it to be published. You then have a garage full of books and, if you are fortunate, you can do 'back of the room' sales after speaking bookings. At least you get a substantial percentage of the cover price. Two businesses that coach and manage you through the writing and publishing process are Sue Richardson Associates Ltd and The Book Midwife. Writing a book is not such a daunting task if you have support from someone who has done it, studied it and knows how to take you through the same process.
To have your book published by a traditional book publisher is difficult. JK Rowling spent years trying to sell the first of Mr Potter's adventures. The first thing to do, to write a book you hope will be bought by a publisher, is to write a book proposal that will entice a publisher. There are books on writing book proposals of course, Google them and there are experts who will help you write your book proposal too.
Royalties on professionally published books are around 5 to15% of the cover price. You may be lucky and receive an advance to write the book after a good proposal. Better odds than winning the lottery at least.
A more recent development is the ebook. Whether in an Adobe PDF, an ebook or a Kindle format, electronic books now outsell printed books. The UK sales for electronic books overtook printed sales in 2012. That is excluding the free electronic book downloads.
In terms of being an author, an ebook has a lot of expert power. When it comes to book sales Amazon now outsell everyone else. So Amazon's decision to offer a free Kindle reader for your PC or Mac is a major move in the market. The price competition is the ebook reader market has already seen big price reductions and there will be larger price cuts in the future as the manufacturers improve their yields.
One bonus on Kindle sales is the royalty can be up to 70% of the cover price! Amazon is a huge marketplace and so many browsing their site are account holders – just a click away from buying your book.

The thoroughly modern ebook reader

I have to be careful not to sound like a grumpy old man at times – and this is one. I am slowly learning to skim through a lot of shallow information instead of settling down with a thick book and a nice drink. I don't mean shallow as a derogatory adjective. We all live faster lives than we used to, we are connected to an always-on world. If someone wants to read the top ten tips on playing a guitar on their phone while travelling on a bus it is a useful, valuable thing to do. 
Writing for the ebook reader is different. They want your content packaged in digestible bites. It can be challenging showing expertise in short texts. Some of you will have seen my 'Top Ten Tips to...' That is a good format to start the dialogue with your future client.

The thoroughly old-fashioned ebook reader

Some things don't change. People expect that what they buy is good quality. How many spelling mistakes do you find in the things you read? Mostly they just diminish the author's expert status but some make the meaning unintelligible.
Two right clearly is won of the best weighs to bee red.
Secondly (I see my editor smiling in my imagination) is good grammar. How can people understand your meaning if you do not construct your sentences properly? Writing and reading is a communication process that has rules like any communication process. Sadly, it lacks interactivity; the author can't be there to answer the reader's questions. Make sure the sentence conveys your meaning precisely.
Finally, and in a bow to my grumpy old man status, please avoid total nonsense. Your writing conveys your meaning. Your meaning takes your reader on a voyage of understanding and, if you are lucky, discovery. Make sure your voyage route planning instructions are clear and in the correct order. Make it all flow sensibly.
In general ebooks are a fraction of the printed books cost. Don't give your reader any reason to press that delete button.


A book lends great credence to your claim to be an expert. Today the rise of the ebook means trainers looking to gain expert status should consider writing, or having ghost written, an expert book.
The fundamental change in the publishing cost base means that anyone can now be an author. To be an author whose book is read is now the challenge. The book must be well written, of value and concise. It needs to be promoted well, for which social media are ideal. 
There are plenty of people ready to help you on your journey from trainer to author to expert. I hope to be reading your work and admiring your expertise soon.
Stephen is a co-founder of Motivation Matters, set up in 2004 to develop the management of motivation to inspire greater performance. He has worked for notable organisations such as Corning, De La Rue and Buhler and has been hired to help Philips, Lloyds TSB and a raft of others. A published author of articles and Conference speaker, Stephen delivers workshops on personal, management and leadership skills across the country. It is all about "making people more effective" he says. Wetutor is a new venture helping people write, edit and publish all documents, books and e-books. You can follow Stephen on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Blog 


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!