“We’re different” and a little bit defensive too.
Training can be so hit and miss. It starts often being sold in the wrong way by the supplier, or worse the sales people they employ to sell them. ( I am not going to start about the quality of salespeople employed to sell sales training, oh no, I will save that little gem for another time.)
In my role I get called up by so many different types of suppliers, they can be often be coaches and mentors, offering their services. Some of them are quite lovely. Deluded though really. You see, these coaches if not well established, are often new to the role having been made redundant after an eternity with either a large company as a middle manager or worse from somewhere in the public sector. They somehow believe that as they have performed their role for so long that this somehow qualifies them to become a coach or trainer. It doesn’t. The industry I work in demands specific skill sets and getting this across in a polite way often irks the person on the phone, they take it as a personal slant on them and they get defensive, and what happens when a person gets defensive? They only talk about their own point of view, their beliefs, and then they argue. They argue themselves out of any chance of working with me. It makes me sad too, as often these people really do have something to offer, but they have not been trained to sell, to establish rapport, to communicate even, and yet they feel qualified to coach. Let me tell you, a qualification does count and does go a long way, but experience and results counts for double in my book, and getting defensive and arguing gets you the dial tone on my phone.
Training suppliers of specific skills call me up too. These can range from sales training, software trainers, e-learning providers (yawn-it isn’t new anymore, you hearing me) to those trainers who group what they train into the category of ‘soft skills’. (Bloody hell I hate that term such an important skill set demoted to something akin to a piece of fudge.) You know what I mean, management and leadership, time management, communication skills etc. For some unknown reason their favourite opening line of choice, is “I want you to know that unlike other providers, we are different.” There it is, the word that kills it all, ‘different’. The minute the ‘D’ word drips down the phone into my ear, for some reason I only then here my own ‘D’ word, ‘Drivel’. You see, if you are truly different, then you need to qualify it, and qualify it in terms of value to me. Here are some things that do not make a provider different, yet, they believe it does.
- ‘Tailoring’. Tailoring is expected, and is far more than just dropping the customer’s company logo into some PowerPoint slides. We hate slides too.
- ‘We really listen’. Listening! Are you kidding me!
- ‘Follow up to the delegate’. Well I expect that, if I want a train and dump trainer then they are a dime a dozen.
- ‘We do try to sell you anything’. Huh? Then why are you calling?
- ‘We do not include travel and subs in our fees’. Again expected.
- ‘We do not charge for prep time.’ Good I am not paying it, never will.
I am not given you a list of things that make a trainer different as that would be cheating, but suffice to say, lose the ‘d’ word. Try ‘unique’, ‘memorable’ or ‘valued’ they are better words and are evidence based through testimonials. Which leads me to my final point on this. You cannot describe yourself as different, you have to be described as different, in the same way as you really cannot describe yourself as an entrepreneur or as depressed. These are descriptions and observations that are used on you by others, usually as a result of something happening. So in the example of depressed, depression is a medical condition, with symptoms, depression is the result of those symptoms and can only be really described of someone by a medical professional. An entrepreneur is someone who does something so unique, and innovative that is has never been done before to that level, this is a measurable against which a comparison is made, credibly by an observer or direct contact. The same with ‘different’ if it is in a testimonial then fine, but do not describe yourselves as this. If you do, then we buyers just here ‘the same’.