“Of course, no one told them that they’d need sales skills when they took the role, but I guess this is the case for anyone in a role that requires asking for funds,” he told L&D Professional.
This is especially true in periods where funds are tight and everyone is asking for money for various projects, he added.
Russell outlined to L&D Professional five characteristics of a good L&D negotiator and salesperson:
We don’t always get what we want every time, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t get it ever, he said.
An ability to keep focused and positive will often see you achieve if you don’t give up, Russell added.
“It may be as simple as finding out what the reasons were for being knocked back and finding out what needs to be changed.
“But having a determined mindset can certainly be helpful, particularly when there is not a lot of money around.”
If you actually think about what influence is, it’s largely about relationships and the more you know someone, the more influence you are likely to have, Russell told L&D Professional.
"It’s important to identify the right people and invest time in building relationships with them," he said.
“And again some people are networkers and some aren’t, but you can develop that."
If you are presenting any kind of business case people will take you less seriously if you can’t deliver your vision with confidence, he said.
“Now some people would say that they are not confident in the way they deal with things like asking for funds and presenting,” Russell added.
“My response to that would be that’s not uncommon, but of course there are a lot of things you can do to address that like practicing and investing in your own capabilities and development.”
Clarity of vision
If you are not sure of what it is you want to do and why, then you can’t really expect anyone else to be, said Russell.
Ability to think on the spot
Russell said that often when L&D practitioners present the business case in the first instance it may be a written document. However, at some point they are probably going to find themselves in front of one or more people who will be throwing objections and questions at it.
“And whilst putting some thought as to what they might be is going to help you, you won’t always know,” he said.
“So an ability to be able to think of an answer is going to be a very beneficial characteristic. Of course part of that comes into clarity of vision because if you have got clarity than that is going to help you with some of the more challenging questions.”
The key is to present the response in a well thought out and compelling manner, he added.
The requirement of the L&D practitioner to be a negotiator and salesman is nothing new. However, it seems that L&D practitioners are increasingly realising that they need to harness these skills to win budget approval, said Sam Russell, Director of Client Services & Business Development at Rhodes Business School.