Managing Vendors

Over the years I been on both the buying and selling side for training programs.  Because most training vendors hire sales people over consultants to sell their products and programs, the responsibility to correctly match need to solution remains the job of the Training Manager.

Yet, how often do training managers push back when then are being product popped a solution for which there is no issue to solve?  What happens when the sales person comes a calling with the latest and greatest solution for something you will never need?

Most of the time the training manager will listen to the presentation, watch the webinar, or talk by phone and chalk it up to “keeping informed” on what is available.  Why?  Do you really have that much free time on your hands?  Why do you need to be the source of all knowledge before the need arises?

The first thing I recommend all training managers have in place is a training plan.  Always know what you are working on in the next 12 months, so you remain focused and when a sales person calls you instantly know if this is something you need to listen to or not.

The second thing is to take control of the sales experience.  This means, (now this may be really bold) return the call or email and tell the person why you are not interested.  Tell them why it doesn’t fit into your training plan this year.  Cut the sales cycle off at the knees by managing the process.  Don’t be led along by the sales person, and you tell them if, when and how you want follow-up!

Third, would be attending events that prepare you for work on your agenda, not to just take up space in your day.  Each of you that attends these free webinars or conference calls are assumed to be a potential client.  And not just the potential someday, but the following week.

Forth, when you engage with a vendor, decide how quickly you want to move and keep setting the next appointment or action yourself.  The more you take control, the less the sales person is taking control.  When you determine a good fit, then make it happen.  Likewise, if you determine for whatever reason the solution is not a fit, tell the sales person the truthful reasons why.

We need training vendor programs and products to be efficient and productive and save money.  But that all backfires if you are being sold something rather than you buying something.


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