If you have any experience in customer service or sales, you understand the importance of the right approach to and maintaining control over a conversation. Countless quippy phrases describe a successful sales approach, like “selling ice to a penguin” or “a cherry popsicle to someone in white gloves,” for example. Good salespeople are invaluable to nearly every industry. If you have mastered that approach to people and want to expand your horizons, you could start your own sales training consulting firm.
People-Focused Sales Consulting Business
Sales training consulting firms are made up of top-notch sales professionals who provide training in various industries. While each sector with which you work may be different, your guiding principles and training strategies should remain the same.
You are the people-focused aspect of an industry, and people all basically work the same way. You will be responsible for going into a company and assessing its sales process and policies and then will train the staff to become more efficient and proficient in sales.
Starting a Training Consulting Business
How do you start your sales consulting business? For what do you need to be prepared? While every business is different, the basic principles should be the same. Depending on the state or states in which you operate, you may need to take different approaches, so be sure to look at state-specific laws regarding consulting firms.
The hardest part of running any business is starting it. What do you need to do to ensure that you have the most robust foundation? To begin, you should start with a pen and paper.
Begin to brainstorm this way without worrying about making sense to an outside reader. This base document is going to help you put together the skeleton of your business. During this brainstorming session, you should iron out six details for your business.
1. Name of Your Business
What will you call your business? This question can be easy to answer, or it can be one of the hardest choices you ever make. Consider that names need to be easily remembered and easy to read. They also shouldn’t bring to mind anything that could be contentious, such as political alignment, in order to reach the broadest audience.
2. Problem or Need You See
All businesses need to have this problem at the forefront of their planning. What do your potential customers need? In this instance, the problem should be something along the lines of companies requiring unbiased and comprehensive sales training. For any business owner, this problem is the driving force behind your company.
3. Your Solution to the Problem
Where a problem defines your business’s ideal customers and their needs, your solution describes what you offer. If the problem is companies requiring unbiased and comprehensive sales training, then your solution would be offering unbiased and comprehensive sales training for a variety of industries.
4. Industries of Focus
Your prospective clients are going to look for a consulting firm that has a track record of working for companies like theirs. Up to this point, changing your focus would require a rebranding of your company. When you are working in your focus industries, you are free to expand as much as you like.
When you begin to expand into other industries, you will need to update your customer avatars and approaches to suit them. Therefore, it’s ideal to develop with caution and ensure that both you and your staff can speak to those industries. As a consulting firm, your customers wish to see you as an expert. If you and your team cannot speak to a specific industry, then your reputation may suffer for it.
5. Developing Client Avatars
Building a customer or client avatar requires a great deal of research into those customers, their field and their needs. To begin, you may only have a few customer avatars. As you expand your sales consulting services, you will need to repeat the research step each time. Showing your customers an understanding of who they are will give them confidence in your services.
6. Goals for Your Company
As is true for your avatars, your company goals can evolve with your business. Do you want to have a portfolio of X number of companies in Y years? Is your goal more focused on your income level?
Perhaps you have backers who need a percentage back in a certain amount of years. Whatever your goals, you need to have them defined as a way of focusing your activities. Goals should have defined timelines and should not be prohibitively difficult for your company to reach. Goals should motivate you and your staff.
Numerous Types of Consultants Are in Demand
More and more companies are looking to hire consultants to maintain their competitive edge. In the days of international business, even small companies can have a wide-ranging portfolio of their own. Companies are more and more requiring numerous types of sales consultants.
SEO Sales Consultants
Search engine optimization is the term used for strategically arranging high-ranking keywords in website copy. To find out what keywords they need to use, SEO consultants compare terms to the volume of search history. This comparison allows them to make a list of the top keywords for which people are searching.
By adequately utilizing ever-changing SEO techniques, the SEO consultant will enable companies to show up close to the first page of any search engine’s results. This is an important piece of the sales and marketing puzzle.
Traditional Sales Consultants
Because more and more companies are working online, a variety of sales tactics are required to be successful. Sales consultants go into a company and assess its current sales procedures and how well it is performing. They provide templates and examples along with training for sales employees. The training and policy adjustments are all geared toward helping the client company make more money via sales methods.
UX Sales Consultants
User experience, or UX, is a growing field that revolves around the experiences of the end user. Many companies do not yet have fully staffed UX departments, so they hire consultants for UX research and UX design.
Researchers interview, survey and otherwise observe the patterns of users to develop new strategies for reaching clients. Designers work to make a shopping experience as simple, immersive and pleasant as possible. These are important members of your sales team as well.
Hiring Employees for Your Firm
When hiring for your sales training consulting firm, you should always refer back to your business plan and your brainstorming session. You have distinct goals for your company, and you also have vital industries of which you will want a market share. To gain those shares, your employees need to be the best that you can afford. There are four considerations to keep in mind as you hire.
Consideration 1: Company Culture
You are building your consulting company, and it needs to reflect who you are in a business sense and project the image that you find to best suit you. While company culture cannot be the only reason that you hire someone, it should be the final consideration when making your hiring decisions.
If a person is good on paper but will not fit in with the rest of your staff, he will likely be unhappy. That unhappiness could cause him to leave before a year is over, or it could cause your established team to become unhappy.
Consideration 2: Customer Culture
Who are your customers? You should always hire the best person you can, and there are times where that may not be a top performer. For example, if you are debating hiring someone for a specific client, the person whom you hire should be able to communicate with that client effectively and be able to establish a good rapport.
Bad reputations can ruin companies and take their leadership down with them. The last thing that you want is to lose any of your anchor clients because your selected consultant doesn’t jive with their needs.
These factors should not lead you to think that you should have a cookie-cutter template for your potential employees. However, you also need to know that they will accomplish the required work. When introducing staff to a new client, it might behoove you to sit in on their first few meetings.
Consideration 3: Work-Life Balance
Most employees understand that there will be times when they need to work more than other times. However, many employees see work-life balance as one of the most critical aspects of employment. If your team is overworked, even if they are not underpaid, they will become unhappy with their situation.
Your staff needs to feel like the goals they are given are mostly reasonable. Your best employees may want one or two pie-in-the-sky dreams, though most of them will need to be pushed to reach them.
Consideration 4: Compensation
What benefits and compensation are you prepared to offer employees? Do not fall into the trap that many startups fall into by offering flashy perks such as free drinks and food along with a hip office to attract the best people.
Your best employees need to know that they will be fairly compensated for their time and skill level. They will want to know what monetary benefits you offer, if you will allow them to work from home and how many sick days they will be able to use.
How to Target Clients
What sorts of businesses are you going to target? While you are free to expand from industry to industry, you should start somewhere that is firmly in your own wheelhouse. That way, you can use your expansive knowledge to drive your team to new customers and higher revenue. The type of business in which you want to get a foothold is the one that you should mostly target.
Advertising agencies could be one type of client about which you know a great deal. These clients would only hire you if your skill set can help them with their projects. They tend to run on shorter deadlines (less than six months) and make excellent repeat customers, provided that you give them the best services that you can muster.
Another sort of company that would make a good anchor client would be brand side for any merchant. Brand side is a term used to describe the actual sales force and products associated with it. A company’s brand is how it is known to the world, and as a sales consultant, you will need to keep their brand voice in mind while you train.
Narrowing Down Client Lists
Regardless of the industry with which you choose to work, a sales training consulting firm should be able to narrow down a client list and work with them as your services are needed. Some firms choose to diversify after their main anchor clients are set, while others decide to stay where they are and not grow their business further. Even if you are starting a consulting business with no experience, you should proceed with a plan in mind.
Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She has been writing on business-related topics for nearly 10 years. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com) and she works with a number of small businesses to develop B2B content for their websites, social media accounts, and marketing materials. In addition to this content, she has written business-related articles for sites like Sweet Frivolity, Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, Bloom Co and Spent.