How to organise professional services training streams

September 24, 2018 in Professional Development



How to organise professional services training streams

Whether you manage a growing range of training topics or are looking for inspiration on how to map out learning pathways, it’s useful to use the concept of a ‘training stream’ within your business. So let’s review the most common training streams found in professional services firms to help you define your most suitable streams.

Training Stream: Business Development

This training stream focuses on ‘new business’ and ‘new clients’. This is often a stream professionals find challenging. Business Development differs from Sales. Business Development finds new clients and brings them into the sales process. Sales focuses on the conversion of new clients into billable revenue (among other things).

This stream is significant for growth in a professional services firm as it impacts overall revenue, growth in new clients, business for new advisers or consultants, expansion into new services and development into new products. It should include both personal skills in business development, but also organisation-level knowledge about marketing, branding and planning.  Elements of this stream should apply to all client-facing professionals, while other topics in this stream may only be suitable for business development teams or managers.

Topics in the Business Development stream include…

  • Client referrals
  • Internal referrals and cross-referrals
  • External referrals and referral partners
  • Referral marketing
  • Personal branding
  • Thought leadership
  • Business networking
  • LinkedIn profiles and strategies
  • Cold calling and telephone skills
  • Business Development planning
  • Presentation skills
  • Writing articles and blogs
  • Managing social media
  • Understanding the client journey and buying cycle
  • Ideal clients and client personas
  • Business branding

Training Stream: Sales

The sales training stream focuses on capturing opportunities and creating revenue. This stream includes converting new leads into new clients, as well as repeat business, up-selling and cross-selling with existing clients.

This stream is often a struggle for professionals who have a negative view of the concept of ‘sales’. They may view ‘selling’ as unprofessional. As a result, this stream must often begin with establishing a suitable sales framework or methodology which is appealing to those professionals and your business culture. Until your staff recognise that selling can be a positive experience for all parties, it is unlikely any other topics within this stream will be effective.

Topics in the Sales stream include…

  • Introduction to selling or sales methodologies
  • Building trust in the sales process
  • Listening skills
  • Questioning skills
  • Developing a value proposition
  • Closing techniques
  • Managing proposals
  • Writing proposals
  • Presenting proposals
  • Presentation development
  • Business writing skills
  • Managing client objections
  • Negotiation skills

Training Stream: Relationship Management

This training stream focuses on servicing and relationships with clients. For professionals with transactional clients, Relationship Management is about excellence in execution of a transaction. For professionals with relationship clients, this stream also includes on-going relationship management techniques. For many professionals, this stream is about ‘work in progress’ or project execution. So it must cover issues of both quantity and efficiency, as well as quality and excellence.

Topics in the Relationship Management stream include…

  • Managing client expectations
  • Conducting client review meetings
  • Repeat purchases
  • Cross-selling
  • Up-selling
  • Service excellence
  • Handling client complaints
  • Managing client portfolios
  • Referrals, references and testimonials
  • Seeking client feedback
  • Project management

Training Stream: Management and Leadership

This training stream focuses on two issues which could easily be split into two streams: the management of people and the leadership of an organisation. In smaller firms, these roles are shared. However, in larger firms, there may be managers whose purpose is people-focused, and senior leaders whose focus is on business strategy.

The biggest challenge for many professional services firms is that staff are often promoted to management positions based on their technical or commercial success – not their team and people skills. Great managers don’t always come from your strongest performers.

In fact, strong performers can sometimes have a selfish streak, motivated by results and competitiveness in sales and business development. This characteristic can be problematic when the role suddenly involves people management.

Topics in the Management and Leadership stream include…

  • Coaching and developing staff
  • Staff delegation
  • Mentoring others
  • Discussing staff performance
  • Managing staff training
  • Motivating staff and teams
  • Recognising and rewarding staff performance
  • Leadership skills
  • Setting expectations with staff
  • Interviewing and recruitment tips
  • Managing conflict
  • Business ethics
  • Building teams
  • Change management
  • Business strategy
  • Business planning

Training Stream: Personal Development

This training stream is often viewed as containing the remaining ‘other’ topics relevant for a professional. However, a better way to think of this stream is that it contains the skills required for any professional to be effective in any role. While the Business Development, Sales, Relationship Management, and Management and Leadership streams are role specific, this stream is role agnostic. From support staff to senior leaders, this stream covers the essentials to operate efficiently and effectively.

The Personal Development stream is also important for professionals whose technical and role expertise is strong, but they struggle to operate at a high level in your business. These staff lack organisational or productivity skills or may be struggling to communicate effectively with others.

Topics in the Personal Development stream include…

  • Managing time and productivity
  • Managing priorities
  • Goal setting
  • Managing emails
  • Managing meetings
  • Communicating effectively
  • Decision-making skills
  • Influencing skills
  • Managing stress
  • Emotional intelligence

Training Stream: Compliance and Technical

Your business needs will drive this final training stream: Compliance Requirements and Technical Capabilities. As with Management and Leadership, it is possible to break this into two separate streams.

Compliance Requirements vary widely between industries, driven by specific regulatory requirements. However, Compliance streams should also address universal issues of appropriate workplace behaviours including harassment, discrimination and workplace health and safety.

Technical requirements also vary with each industry. There will likely be some accredited technical training available from registered training providers. However, technical training can also originate from within the firm, as internal experts share best practices in the technical aspects of each role and industry. This is often the ‘street smarts’ to match the ‘book smarts’. As a result, it is often this stream of ‘technical best practice’ which is of greatest interest to professionals as they feel familiar with the topic and keen to improve upon it.

Topics in the Compliance and Technical stream will depend on your industry, but can include…

  • Workplace health and safety
  • First aid training
  • Injury management
  • OHS awareness
  • Privacy awareness
  • IT security
  • Appropriate IT usage
  • Risk management
  • Discrimination awareness
  • Harassment prevention
  • Workplace bullying
  • Cultural awareness