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In December, Everyone’s in Sales – Tips for Selling your 2014 Learning and Development Plan

2014 PlanLike most kids growing up, my siblings and I kept constant score of each other’s perks, bedtimes, choirs, freedoms, and about any other aspect of childhood “fairness.” I was often the target of this backlash and routinely you could hear my siblings utter phrases like, “Why did he get to go?” or “How come he gets to stay up?” or “But he hasn’t finished his yet.”

Whether it was hard-wired or just dumb luck, I learned at a young age that life is not fair. Duh, right? But here’s the catch. That’s a good thing. Life’s not fair because humans are capable of being convinced; capable of changing their mind, ideas, priorities, or perspective. Not only are they capable, in many cases they crave it. (As evidenced by the midnight infomercial purchase, because you’re convinced it’s critical you have a knife that could cut through a shoe… just in case.)

We’re all familiar with the real golden rule, “He who has the gold makes the rules.” Well I would submit, “He who has the golden tongue, makes the rules.” As a child, I had figured out that I could substantially better my life with a compelling sales pitch to Mom or Dad.

So, what does that have to do with me? Good question. Glad you asked. You see, this is the time of year when we are preparing our 2014 Learning and Development Plans, and EVERYONE’S in Sales. Only not everyone knows it, acknowledges it, or embraces it. Clients talk to us about “working on their budgets” for next year, or express frustrations about their lack of budget, or groups or divisions that commonly get the lion share of the budget. Sometimes even a subtle tone of being a powerless victim to politics-as-usual can be heard.

This is an area where we can help, as a provider of training solutions we have a unique vantage point to see best practices in various industries.  This puts us in a prime position to help think through and polish new strategies, techniques, and ideas. We have experience creating long-term strategic plans within constraints to focus on improvements that directly impact learners and the behaviors we are trying to influence. We can help you think of impactful ideas for your 2014 plans and (most importantly) help you sell it!

Now, I understand a great deal of time is put into 2014 plans. The business case has been thoroughly flushed out and neatly articulated in a detailed PowerPoint. The numbers have been triple checked for accuracy. After all, you’ve gone through this process for years.

However, what’s missing isn’t the thought or preparation. What’s missing is the salesmanship. Sell it! Paint a vision! Create and deliver solutions this year that inspire individual performance and drive new levels of organizational success! Deliver it with conviction and confidence. Often the corporate culture of playing “not to lose,” prevents us from pitching a drastic plan that could be a massive success, because the potential size of the failure is too large. Or our personnel comfort zones keep us from conveying a plan with the needed energy and passion, for a fear of coming off as “salesy.” In realty, these attributes are a long ways from being salesy. They’re critical elements to a winning pitch, and if you’re not showing these, rest assured the Sales Division will be and chances are they’ll get that piece of that budget you were both fighting for.

Look, I get it. If you loved sales you would have gone into sales, not operations, finance, HR, training, or procurement. You may even be a little anti-sales with their slick tongues, inflated commissions, and great hair. I get that too. But on the day you pitch your vision for 2014 and request that uncharacteristically high budget that could transform the company, you are the Yoda of sales! You are the Don Draper of your company. You are the shameless and relentless salesperson that is determined to sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves. Embrace it! Enjoy it! Who knows… maybe mom and dad will even let you stay up later or weed the flower bed next week instead.