You should always drive the “selling/buying” process!

That may read like a no-brainer statement to you but, too often, it’s not recognized by the many salespeople who visit and/or talk with you on the phone.

Training vendors that ignore your dominant position should be shown the door. Their sales representatives, who exclusively pitch “only what they’ve got,” are not potential partners for you and your organization.

You make the buying decision! You are the “party in power” during any sales discussion!

From personal experience a couple of decades ago, as a long time educator I “knew” that Interactive Laser Videodisc (IVD) was the best learning technology that existed. As a learning tool I “knew” that it was vastly superior to the then-emerging CD-ROM digital technology.

However, my reasoning made no difference. Our customers wanted CD-ROM training because it eliminated the costly and unwieldy hardware necessary for IVD — plus, the technology world was abandoning analog in favor of digital. And, so the customers rightly triumphed, as IVD rapidly died away.

Today, the same story is being repeated with e-Learning which is slowly — but, surely — replacing the CD-ROM solution. Currently practiced e-Learning, while arguably inferior as a learning tool, is more efficient, less costly, and always available — and, is rapidly becoming the solution-of-choice.

Customers, rightly, determine the outcome of any training-purchase decision!

So what should you, the customer, have a right to expect from a training vendor’s representative? Two major traits.

First in importance is recognizing whether the salesperson really seems to understand and care about your challenges.

Is he really listening to you? Or, does he talk incessantly about his own company and its products? Does he know your industry? Does he understand the process that your company uses to achieve success? In other words, is the focus of the conversation on you and your challenges — or, does he struggle to keep the attention directed to his own company and his limited “black bag of solutions.” In short, is he only interested in “closing” you?

You’ll easily know these answers if you pay close attention to the questions (if any) he’s asking. The focus of those questions will quickly reveal his interest (or, lack of) in you and your training challenges.

Close behind in importance is recognizing the vendor representative who understands those specific benefits of her product or service that will directly help you meet your training challenges. If she doesn’t tailor her “pitch” to your specific needs, she either isn’t listening or she doesn’t understand.

Again there’s an easy way for you to tell. Whenever a salesperson recites all the features and benefits of her product it is a real tip-off that her knowledge level is only skin deep. Rather, her pitch should be centered on only those targeted features and benefits that relate specifically to your needs. If it’s not, she really can’t help you — and, her lack of true understanding will probably be reflected in insufficient support after the sale.

Once you find a sales representative you can trust and respect, do your best to partner with him. The ultimate benefit is a two way street that benefits both of you. The more you support his efforts, the more service you will get -– and, the more success you’ll both achieve.

More on Tuesday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning (Tuesdays & Thursdays)