November 4, 2013

As “the customer,” you are central to the buying/selling process and should, therefore, drive all discussions between you and a vendor’s sales representative.

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!

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

However, my reasoning made little difference. The 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.

Today, the same story is being repeated with e-Learning which is rapidly replacing the CD-ROM solution. E-Learning, while currently inferior as a learning tool, is more efficient, less costly, and always available.

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

So what should you, the customer, be looking for from a training vendor’s sales representative? Two major traits.

First in importance is recognizing that unique sales representative who appears to understand your particular challenges. Does she truly listen to you by concentrating on your situation? Or, does she talk incessantly about her 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 is it on him and his interest in “closing” you?

Second in importance is the vendor representative who can limit, and then relate, her product’s potential benefits to a presentation that will specifically help you meet your training challenge. If she doesn’t tailor her “pitch” to your needs, she either isn’t listening or she doesn’t understand.

On the other hand, be wary of the salesperson who recites every one of the features and benefits of his product as that will be a real tip-off that his knowledge level is only skin deep. He really can’t help you — and, his inability to limit the benefits-discussion to your specific need 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 benefits will flow both ways. The more you support his efforts, the more service you will get -– and, the more success you’ll both achieve. A win-win!

More on Wednesday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder
ITC Learning (Mondays & Wednesdays)