Year-End Sales!

While everyone seems to be focused on holiday sales in the store or online, Training Managers should be focused on obtaining next year’s training materials at the same bargain rates by shopping year-end sales from their favorite training vendors!

Yet, I am watching companies passing on these once a year savings like they are made out of money.  These “sales” are being used to drive year-end revenue for the vendor, and they all disappear come January.  Oh, they will tell you they will prompt a discount next year, but they don’t need to and usually do not.

I watch CEOs pounding the message about expense control and yet they allow their departments to pass on saving money.  Hello?  If you spend more later, you are not watching expenses!  Even if you are unable to pay the invoice until next year when your budget has money again, now is the time to negotiate!

I work with one management/leadership training company that is giving a full 20% off everything if the sale is paid for by 12/20/11 and even 15% if the sale is paid for by 1/20/12.  (For details, email me at )

So while some training managers are gearing up for 2012 by already having a training plan in place, and budget dollars approved, too many are sitting back enjoying all the snacks of the holiday and then will pay the full price for things next year.

While we all try to stretch the training dollar, let’s be observant of the fact that if things cost more you can’t do as much.  If you pay the full price for everything, then you can’t train as many skills.  Oh, wait!  Maybe this is the game plan.  I hadn’t stop to realize that the procrastinator and under-achiever maybe using this technique to prevent over working themselves next year. 

This is sales season for that new TV, outfit, or training program.  Now is the time to save money, so shop until you drop or run out of money!

A Reality Training Budget

Most companies are either knee-deep in the budgeting process for 2012 or will be soon.  My suggestion for training managers this year it to create what I call a Reality Training Budget.

Instead of copying last year’s numbers and hoping it all gets approved again this year, I want you to begin by preparing a list of 2011 completed and in process objectives.  What did you do this year that made a difference on the performance of the company?  How did it impact the company?  And yes, take a little time to be proud and brag on your team a little!

Now, polish the 2012 training plan and make any necessary adjustments, while highlighting the key objectives you are planning to achieve next year.  Do not forget to describe the expected benefits of your efforts, and sell your heart out over the value you will bring once again to the organization.

Numbers in a training budget are impersonal, and need to be supported by the emotional triggers that come with each initiative.  Be prepared to link each objective to corporate goals, and if you cannot link your work to the company’s work, then maybe it should not be on the list.

I use the word “Reality” because you need to paint a picture of what could be done with the resources and budget you are proposing, versus the reality of what will not get done if the budget is not approved.  Be real clear that more money can get more done, and less money will get less done.

In my book The Training Physical, I talk about setting realistic expectations.  When management wants to do something later in the year, either they pony up more money or they trade-off another activity and give up on it being accomplished.

These steps create a win-win for you and the clients you serve.  It also sets expectations, and it demonstrates you are a partner in the business.  Learning is a part of every successful organization, and training needs to live up to the expectation.

The Holiday Excuse

Welcome to the last 45 days of the years when employees and managers everywhere are unable to make decisions and implement squat “because the holidays make it too difficult.”  Whether you are external to a company, or internal to your own company, the Holiday Excuse is an annual reason to stop working while they get paid.

People take vacations throughout the entire year and we have holidays throughout the year too.  And it is important to note they are holiDAYS not WEEKS, so why is it so easy to pop off this excuse and it is acceptable?

I’ve always been a financial hawk when it comes to expenses.  When you are paying an employee a salary and they are not working, you are paying money for low to no productivity.  Not to mention, that if these decisions involve a vendor, the end of the year is the very best time to crack a deal.  Come January, the deals disappear! 

From the company’s perspective, they have written a payroll check, and got nothing in return.  They then get to pay even more money for a product in the following year because the employees they have on staff couldn’t fit into their busy schedule a decision during the last 45 days of the month.

I fault the leadership of the company that uses the Holiday Excuse for low productivity.  If management would require the same level of productivity all year long they would get the same return on their spring and summer investments.

As this blog is about the training function, it appalls me when I hear training stop during this time of year.  Learning is a constant, so why does it stop during the holidays?  Learning Leaders should be negotiating deals to stretch their limited training budgets, not waiting until the next year to do less training because it cost more.

And here is a novel concept.  Instead of cutting jobs, how about we focus on the people we have on staff to do the job we are paying them to do 365 days a year.  Well of course, minus weekends, vacation days, holidays, sick days, and any week or month with a holiday in it.

Physician Heal Thyself

I took a page from my own blog last week about a Learning Leader that is focusing on her own professional development, while her company ponders the wonders of the universe.  I decided that I needed to do something to revive myself while I wait for the economy and several companies to move forward.

Recently my wife and I sold a second home, and by all accounts it was a very long process.  We were competing with limited buyers and an influx of foreclosures and short sales that distract buyers.  We had never sold a house before and learned from personal experience it is not that much fun.  We love buying much more.

My initial career was 12 years in retail banking, before the last 21 in training development.  I have always enjoyed banking, and my time in lending.  Yet the recent experience with selling a home got me thinking about getting my real estate license.  So I took the first step yesterday and ordered the text books that go with three courses I will need complete in order to sit for a real estate licence exam.

I also plan to take next week off for a little rest and relaxation.  So, no email, phone or blogging next week.  It is time to take a breather from the day-to-day of trying to motivate others to learn.  I will have several books with me, and I am devoting some time to learning myself.

Again I wish to thank my Learning Leader friend for modeling for me, and I’m glad it didn’t take long to motivate me into the same action.

See you in a couple of weeks………….