Combining DIY & Professional Development

I’m excited to be speaking at Totally DIY this month on ‘How to build sales growth through your people’.

Totally DIY is the UK’s biggest DIY and tools trade show so it seemed natural to think about how attendees might combine DIY and professional approaches in developing their teams – and to share these in our blog too.

First, let’s explore the context in which companies – in all sectors- are trying to grow. We all know it’s economically tough. Consumer and business buying behaviours are changing and diversifying. On one hand, more and more is bought on-line and we want it to be quick and easy. On the other, when we want help we want a personal, expert service – and we still want it to be convenient and easy.

It’s hard to have a unique product and the reality is that if we don’t have a unique product or service, or if we’re not the ‘best’ or the cheapest then our customer experience has to be our differentiator. And that means our people are our differentiator. In fact, according to Gartner, 89% of companies see customer experience as the major route for differentiation.

Your sales and front-line people need to maximise every opportunity and win more business by focusing on the customer experience – online and offline.

To do that, we need to provide an experience that:

  • Makes it easy for customers to do business with us
  • Adds value – whether that be through expertise, advice, personalisation or some form of memorable experience
  • Encourages them to return and to recommend us

The focus of this blog is how we develop our people to maximise these opportunities – what you can do internally and when to bring in the professionals for the best results.


DIY development

There are often a range of improvements you can make – particularly around your products and internal systems and processes. Here’s a simple process you can follow.

1)      Think about the capability you need in your people in terms of

  • Knowledge: What do they need to know?
  • Skills: What do they need to do?
  • Attitude: What mindset would we like?

For instance, we might break down some specific points in these areas:





Systems & processes

Use cases / application advice

Who to ask



Customer service


Management & leadership









2)     Observe your team in action to assess strengths and development needs

3)     Develop and coach skills

  • Introduce / improve continuous product knowledge development
  • Upskill knowledge of systems and processes
  • Coach the behaviours you want to see
  • Encourage champions, mentors or specialists within your team to support peers

4)     Monitor progress regularly


The level to which you’re able to do this will vary depending on internal resource, capabilities and how much access you have to observe and coach your team. There are also cultural factors at play – a company with a strong collaborative culture in which team members support each other and in which managers regularly coach will typically find it easier to manage their own learning and development.


When and why to bring in the professionals

Working with a professional training and development company like Phoenix brings:

  • Expertise in designing, delivering and measuring training that is proven to make a difference – we understand both the theory and practice of learning dynamics, measurements and how to deliver high quality training that has impact.
  • Importance and commitment – an external provider signals you’re serious. It’s surprising how easily teams can sometimes dismiss internal training sessions, particularly if they are delivered in a very directive way or by an individual they don’t regard as a role model.
  • An external, objective perspective to bring fresh thinking and best practices to your business. Working with a training partner brings examples, frameworks and experience, from similar and different sectors, which can boost innovation and suggest new ways of working.
  • Support for challenging jobs beyond your internal expertise. There are some areas that are notoriously difficult to train successfully without external help – unless you a strong internal training team. These include:
    • Management and leadership development
    • Sales frameworks, processes and skills
    • Attitudes influencing customer and internal communication
    • Culture change


When we work with clients, it’s always a partnership. For us, DIY and professional working together, bringing complementary knowledge and skills, is usually the best route to create, deliver and embed successful training outcomes.


For more details or for a copy of our Totally DIY presentation please get in touch