Everybody in the whole process of language training needs to be motivated, not just you.
The other day, a very good sales trainer I know said that selling is 80% motivation, and 20% skills and knowledge. Without the 20%, selling is impossible, because we wouldn’t know how to do it or what to sell, but without that large, healthy dose of motivation, anyone who has to sell anything is stuck.
What’s very interesting for me, and what is so often misunderstood, is that there are 4 people who need to be all motivated for a language course to be carried out sucessfully. Here’s an article that explains the role of motivation in the set-up of language training from 4 different angles.
You, the salesperson / adviser
If you are the person taking orders or prospecting, then you are the “face” of your school / business, and you need to be very motivated to keep on prospecting, especially if you’re asked to cold call (which I abhor and advise against, as you should know by now!).
Even so, getting sales is always difficult in the face of competition in what is a highly competitive business. I was told the other day that there are 1.2 billion learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) in the world, more if you count other languages, so the huge investment in online learning platforms is no surprise. How can a traditional language school or trainer remain motivated if he or she is constantly getting “no” due to high prices?
However, that is a discussion for another day. Yet the person who has to sell language training, especially to corporations, is actually reliant on many different and unique skills: pedagogy, evaluation, listening, negotiations, prospecting, organisation… I could go on. So whilst having to develop these skills, it is exceedingly important to remain motivated, and no salesperson can survive in this industry without knowing how to do so.
What to do with an unmotivated language learner? The answer is very simple, you shouldn’t be training him in the first place! It is incredibly important, during the audit and evaluation phase of setting up any language course, to gauge the motivational level of the learner.
Any behaviour that shows difficult availabilities, requesting for maximum flexibility, missing the assessment tests etc. are all warning signs that this is going to be a bad learner. This will always, with no exception, reflect badly on you, the school. Attendance rates are a very important indicator that corporations follow, and you should know not to accept an unmotivated learner.
A client (for example a learning officer or training manager) will respect you if you are honest about the doubts that you have on a potential learner. He will know that he can trust you, and that you’re not out there to grab as much business as possible. However, he will sigh if you show him that the learner hasn’t turned up for 3 lessons in a row. You, the language school, should have trusted your instincts before.
I’d love to know what the ratio is between the “I’m a native speaker and so I just fell into language training because I have no other skills to offer as an ex-pat” trainers and “I love languages and have always wanted to teach” trainers. In some schools, it can be as low as 90%-10% I would guess.
Sadly, language trainers are relatively lowly paid compared to many other professional trainers. Low pay often equals low motivation. And learners feel low motivation. So when a trainer who shows behaviour such as being late to class, or lack of preparation, or cancelling classes due to repeated illness, then these are signs of low motivation, and it reflects very badly on the school.
How you, the school manager, can combat this very much depends on your leadership skills. I would advise any school owner and director of studies to take high-level management courses. Knowing how to motivate trainers to be the best they can be rather then relying on their own powers of self-motivation is an accident waiting to happen.
The client / decision-maker
So you’re motivated, you’re learner is motivated, you’ve found a trainer who is motivated. Everyone is available, you’ve sent out the proposal and BAM, nothing happens. The decision maker (learning officer, managing director, human resources manager, etc.) is too busy, in meetings, can’t find the budget, is reliant on someone else’s validation… the list of excuses for delays goes on and on.
What can you do? We all know that planning is so important when it comes to language learning. We have to bend over backwards to get the schedules right. But sometimes when the decision maker is slow, unmotivated and doesn’t take your calls and answer your emails, then it can be difficult to juggle.
Well, my advice is to inform the decision maker just that. Your business is demanding so you have to be too. You have to set-up the conditions of what is important for you beforehand. For example, a fundamental question is “Once the assessment is made, I’ll draw up a proposal and send it to you by email for the course. How long will it take you to make a decision?”. You can then explain how long you need to set the classes up. The less information they have about your internal management, then the less they’ll feel obligated to help you.
My lovely conclusion
If you’re selling language training to businesses, my advice is to try to take a holistic approach to the players involved, and each one needs to be motivated. How to remain motivated, or how to motivate others is a difficult question that business leaders struggle with day in, day out.
I’m very much a believer in taking responsibility for yourself. If you want to improve the sales of your language training, then you need to find ways to motivate yourself (for example establishing your values and setting goals) and others as well.
As always, comments below or on Linked-In please! And it would be great if you could rate and share the article as much as possible. Thank you!