Debbie Barrow: Virada Is a Multi-award Winning Provider of Training for Any Business or Organisation

August 9, 2022

Virada is a multi-award winning provider of training for any business or organisation that sells or provides a service to consumers and customers. Our focus has, for twenty years, specialised in training sales and customer service people and their managers.

Our ethos is training for today’s reality; todays customers, todays teams and with real-world applications in mind. Our training has depth, is authentic, yet practical. And the best thing is, we’ve achieved the kind of return-on-investment that has won several awards.

Tell us about yourself?

My career in sales and service began on a market stall at the age of 13. I moved onto sales and service in retail, on the phone, at events, customers homes and in the field.

A two year stint overseas as a travel representative gave me the insight about how to treat customers and survive long hours that made others running for the hills. That inspired me to teach others what I know.

I learned my training skills with a hotel chain and then took off backpacking around the world for two years and when I ran funds down to one dollar, I got a training contract in California that day. Back in the UK, I spent a few years as a training associate before setting up Virada.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

I’m basing this on the context of pivoting in a pandemic. So here goes my list:: Start with customer research, do things faster – don’t wait until it’s your normal high standards.

Test the concept, Don’t spend ages worrying that you have to ask and pay for marketing ‘experts’ how to do stuff. Trust your gut.

What problem does your business solve?

Getting people trained when a company has one of these problems: Lack of training resource, lack of expertise or knowledge about how to develop their people.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

I’ve come from a working class background and my first five years was spent living in a house with no inside toilet. I went to school on a council estate and the careers teacher gave me the choice of working on a shop or in an office.

I’ve educated myself via 900 personal development and topic books, listened to 100s of audio cassettes and CD’s and been on lots of courses.

So I figured that most things are possible to learn. I wanted to teach others. But also, I love to write and training involves writing.

I help to solve companies challenge of training sales and service teams and their managers. My career has been in those roles, so this, along with our consistent research in the topics, brings credibility,l

What is your magic sauce?

My determination to understand exactly what makes the difference between top sales and service performers and the rest.

I”ve spent years researching, interviewing sales and service teams, reviewing psychometric questionnaires and watching and listening to customer interactions. Everything counts and I know what these things are.

Our training differs from the competition in several ways: 1. The continued research on sales and service and years of identifying the different factors that create top performers 2. The depth in the training approaches (no quick-fix, superficial approaches to sales and service interactions) 3. Proof that it works – lots of ROI and awards 4. Online video-based courses (very important for todays busy teams.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

To transform the content into online video-courses in all the key topics, develop a greater social media presence and use this as a platform to improve awareness of Virada, develop a consumer online option (ideally whilst travelling, writing a book and contributing some time to others who need it along my journey.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

The pandemic and the impact on the training industry and my clients (many clients had or have less staff, staff off work, staff on furlough, operational challenges. One said issues related to Brexit and the war, less sales and less funds for training.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

We’d like to hear from companies and organisations that would like to have some training, to develop sales, service and management results. I’d also be interested in any ‘skills sharing from other professionals e.g I can offer training in return for Marketing/PR/Video production or finance skills.

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