Author Profile Picture

Heather Townsend

The Excedia Group


Read more from Heather Townsend

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

Why do trainers hate selling?


If I had a pound for every trainer who has said to me “I hate selling”, I wouldn’t need to run my own business as I would be lazying around on a yacht in the Caribbean. So, what is it that stops us trainers just like you and I hating – in fact even dreading the selling process?

1. Negative stereotypes associated with selling

When I ask you to think of a sales person, what comes to mind? A pushy double glazing salesman who would swindle his own Granny, if he thought that would help him make his targets? Well, maybe that’s a bit strong, but probably not too far off the mark. In fact, when people in our business are good at selling, we never talk about them as a great sales person. We talk about them as a great marketing person or good at business development or a rain maker. Never a sales person.

2. We are very rarely trained to ‘sell’

You always keep your CPD up to date – well, your technical capability is important to your ability to service your clients. So how come most of us expect to magically expect to be able to sell? Suddenly, we find we have ‘business development’ responsibilities and targets – and at best we have the luxury of observing some of our seniors within the business demonstrate their ability (or lack of ability) to sell.

3. We are conditioned to expect to make the sale in one phone call or meeting

It all goes back to the stereotype of a sales person. We see them at the first sales meeting and pushing for a yes to close the deal – and not leaving without one. We have been conditioned to try and make the sale on the first meeting – rather than seeing sales as a process, and focusing on getting to the next stage in the process.

4. We fear rejection

If you push yourself into a sales situation, there can only be three outcomes, yes, no or maybe. Deep down inside of us all, we all have a little person in us who just wants to be liked. It’s this little person who tells us that if we have to do some ‘selling’ then there is a chance it may end badly for us, and they wouldn’t want to be our friend... this is all codswallop in reality, but something not too dissimilar to this is often going around in our heads when we approach a sale.

5. Selling training is not easy

Before someone is willing to buy your training services, there normally needs to be trust and credibility present. This takes time to build up – and means that the sales cycle, without even bringing the client’s budgeting process into it, can often be long and protracted, which makes it harder. With all the other things on our plates, following up and keeping the prospect warm is often at the bottom of our list.

Have I missed anything out?


3 Responses

  1. Reason 6: We dont have the tools readily available in our toolki

    We know that part of any sales process may involve providing brochures, testimonials and examples. All things we know we could have more of, or better produced versions. As we know we may not have time or resources to follow up a sales call with high quality collateral, we use this excuse to procrastinate and continue to rely on our small circle of influence to gain enough business to do well enough.

  2. Why trainers hate selling?

     I feel that trainers hate selling, because it goes against a trainer’s ethos.

    When I train, I give of myself; I give my knowledge of the subject to my learners; I give it all (within the confines of the course objectives, of course!); I give it freely; I give so much that if I am not exhaused at the end of the course, I feel that I’ve let somebody down.

    I’m reminded of Ronnie Barker’s Arkwright character in ‘Open All Hours’. When asked if he could give directions to a particular street, he retorted "Give?  GIVE???  GIVE you directions?  I mi-mi-mi-might SELL you something that come with free directions…".  

    Being the accomplished salesman, he found it hard to give.  Being the accomplished trainer, I find it hard not to.  I’d sooner give it than sell it – and that’s why I’m not sitting on my yacht in the Caribbean.

  3. it’s intuitive, innit?

    I wonder if the benefits of training are so taken for granted that trainers have difficulties articulating them.  It’s less about the marketing collateral (although decent stuff does help!) and more about the arguments you can use to support your case (and that’s YOUR case, not the generalised benefits of "doing training").  

    And I agree about cold calling, you need the sort of constitution that if you had it, you’d probably also have my point above sorted too!


    — Karen, fe3 consulting

Author Profile Picture
Heather Townsend


Read more from Heather Townsend

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!