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Stephen Walker

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Trainers Tip: A day in the life of…

summer

Don't forget to manage yourself and remember the reason you became a trainer. Stephen Walker reviews three things every trainer needs to do every workday.

This article contains the basics of starting and running a successful training business. Use it to measure your own business.
Independent trainers spend a significant time gaining business. Employed trainers are still involved in raising the profile of what they can deliver, if not externally then to their boss and sales people. We all want to spend a lot of time delivering training. It produces cash that pays for us. One of the key ratios in training, coaching and consultancy is billable hours to working hours.
The training market is highly competitive. There is a lot of pressure from new technology, new start-ups by corporate refugees and existing players chasing the reduced business that is still around. All this makes business harder to win and tends to be less remunerative when you win it. To improve our market share we need to be better. The final thing you should spend your time doing is becoming better – what Stephen Covey calls 'sharpening the saw'.
I will look at each of these in more detail and why not highlight any areas where you don't currently spend your time. Use this article as a whetstone to sharpen yourself.

Gaining business

Whatever business sector or niche you operate in, winning new business starts with market research.
To get new business you need to answer three key questions:
  • who is in your target market?
  • what do they buy?
  • how can I reach them? 
When you have those answers you need to produce a marketing plan. The plan will encompass a series of campaigns, one for each niche, one for each product and one for general brand awareness.
This sounds quite dull and formal - it isn't. Marketing is the process of matching your product to potential buyers to the profit of both parties.
You will find that there is a core of overlapping marketing activities that can be delivered with value across your range of products. You need a marketing plan that covers three months as a minimum. If you review it six monthly then a twelve months' plan is ideal for an established and successful business.
 
"Don't forget to improve yourself. Your personal, management and leadership skills are the key to your effectiveness."
Your marketing plan will break down into a series of activities - campaigns, in marketing speak.
Your campaigns will include some or all of these:
  • Promotions: advertising and direct (e)mail
  • PR: activity designed purely to gain publicity
  • Networking: physical and social media
  • Phoning people: cold and warm calling
  • Face-to-face meetings: pitching to prospects, nurturing clients, establishing joint venture relationships
Finally I would include the tasks of invoicing and getting paid. If you fail to do this effectively you have not gained business, you have made a charitable donation.

Delivering

There are a lot of business models. They range from 'design a course once, deliver multiple times' through to 'bespoke operations, where everything is designed from scratch' for each client. Wherever your business sits on this scale there is a design element that is an essential precursor to delivery.
The delivery point involves a choice of location, some administration around bookings and purchases and then the performance itself. Each delivery of training is a performance. If you sell online content or stand in front of the learners there is a performance going on.
Actors have a maxim – never perform with animals and children. They are guaranteed to cause chaos. Trainers have another maxim. If the IT can go wrong it will. If the IT goes wrong, it is never the three times you tested it, but in front of your audience. We can only learn from our mistakes.

Getting better

Your performance can always be improved. I was fortunate to hear a top keynote speaker deconstruct her speech and explain how she continuously improves its delivery. The speech was fundamentally unchanged over some hundred deliveries. But when the audience did not react as well as they might, the words, the body language and the tone of voice were reviewed to make that small improvement. Hundreds of small improvements add up to one big one.
The training industry has been leaders in using technological improvements in communications. Whiteboards, PowerPoint, webinars, videos and now virtual worlds offer a constant stream of potential improvements. That barely scratches the surface in terms of technology and delivery options.
I am sure all of you can add another delivery mechanism – why not comment on this article and share your ideas?
You can also widen your knowledge relating to the content of your training. Either learn new content or widen your expertise. One thing is certain; failing to learn is a guarantee of eventual failure. Do you think your marketing and sales processes are as good as they could be? Let me make a bold statement: there isn't a business in the world that thinks their marketing and sales couldn't be improved. Don't forget to improve yourself. Your personal, management and leadership skills are the key to your effectiveness. Finally remember your family and friends. We all need to be nurtured, relaxed and feel rooted.

Conclusion

This article is a day late for submission. A not uncommon occurrence as the patient TrainingZone editor will attest. The article was laid out in sections a fortnight ago but when I came to write it six hours labour produced nothing of merit. The title was wrong.
I set my mind the task of finding a more appropriate title while I slept. I woke with the new title in the front of my mind. This article has written itself, the ideas structured from title to outline, the words simply flowing onto the screen. You can use your incredibly creative subconscious mind. Ask yourself the question and sleep. Do you have any examples of how this has worked for you? Please leave a comment if you do.
Did you notice I ignored 'administration'? Apart from sending the invoice and getting paid, which I have included in marketing administration, administration is a drain on the energy in a business. Dangerously, it is easy to become absorbed in administration. This article is focused on what to do outside the office.
My tongue-in-cheek recommendation on what you do in the office:
  • Make phone calls to discover new opportunities and refresh existing contacts
  • Planning (this is what you do when you don’t want to make phone calls)
  • Paper shuffling - so called because it covers everything else that isn't productive and you can't pretend is planning
The last thing to remember as you battle through all the choices of the day is that you enjoy doing this. When you deliver your training and see the dawn of understanding on their faces, feel their pleasure at their new ability, then you should enjoy the moment. Relish the joy of your making a difference to their lives.
 
Stephen is a co-founder of Motivation Matters, set up in 2004 to develop the management of motivation to inspire greater performance. A published author of articles and Conference speaker, Stephen delivers workshops on personal, management and leadership skills across the country. You can follow Stephen on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Blog

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