LEP consultant helps sales teams adapt to a virtual world

Sally Roberts

A training consultant has been inspired by Leeds City Region LEP to bolster the Yorkshire economy through the coronavirus crisis.

Sally Roberts, who runs Fun Training For Results, has transformed her work to help businesses to make their sales strategies just as effective when working online.

She said too many businesses are awaiting the time when they can get back to normal – but that is unlikely to happen for many months or even years. After receiving coaching support through the LEP and Winning Pitch, she will be helping sales teams to overhaul their processes and adapt to new ways of working, returning their businesses to profitability as quickly as possible.

“Great salespeople are used to making those personal connections, whether it’s through networking or getting out and meeting people in their businesses,” she said.

“Learning to adapt those skills and still work as effectively when doing everything online is really tricky. It can be harder to build that vital rapport and pick up on the subtle cues of body language when you can only see each other through a screen.”

In normal times, Sally offers face-to-face sales training, both in-house for business teams and at locations around the country for individuals.

She said her own initial reaction to the Covid-19 pandemic was one of shock and grief as the Harrogate-based business she has spent four years building up disappeared over night.

She said: “I don’t mind admitting that I really struggled to see a way forward in those first few weeks, and I know I’m not the only one. It was a complete shock to the system for everyone.

“After a while, I realised this isn’t going to go away and that, in fact, there was a huge opportunity ahead. Just as I’ve needed to transform my work to be delivered online, so there are lots of people who want support to do the same.”

With encouragement from her business contacts, including Alistair Forbes at Leeds City Region LEP and Harrogate Borough Council, Sally completely re-wrote her training courses to deliver relevant advice on sales, prospecting and client service. She also changed her delivery from full-day, intensive training to shorter online modules once a week, with a follow-up meeting at the end of the week, giving delegates the chance to try out their new skills as they go along.

Having been through the process of transforming her own business, Sally tested her training modules with a series of pilot sessions. Feedback was immediately positive, with one participant saying: “That is probably the best 90 minutes that I have spent on a video call of any type.”

Emma Harvey, MD of Candid HR, said: “We are in unprecedented times as employee owners or directors and most of us are learning how to navigate a new virtual world so that our businesses can survive and thrive.

“Sally’s on-line pragmatic guidance on building pipelines, prospecting and ultimately converting opportunities to sales in this new environment will add immense value to any business that engages her services.”

The new courses are now being rolled out across the country and Sally hopes to play her part in helping businesses strengthen their position over the coming months.

Sally said: “The encouragement and support I’ve received has been absolutely transformational in the way I’ve viewed the current crisis. I’ve realised the possibilities ahead of me and I’ve gone from a feeling of desperation to real excitement about what lies ahead.

“I’m really looking forward to passing on that energy and positivity to other people and helping to make a difference in their businesses.”

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