How to Get Your Workplace to Fund Professional Development Opportunities

professional development opportunities

Attending a professional event or participating in an outside training course can make a huge difference in helping you improve your skills and gain the knowledge and connections you need to take your career to the next level. Training courses, certifications and conferences are a great way to expand and refresh your knowledge, but paying for them out of pocket may not be viable for you, and there may be alternatives.

Finding Funding for Professional Development

Many people, when faced with the cost of attending professional events or trainings, will simply give up or shelve the idea for a later date. Instead of writing off the possibility of attending, consider getting your company to pay your way. Some companies have established budgets for job-specific and career advancement training, and others may be surprisingly open to funding the event when they see how it will benefit them. Here are several steps you can take to help secure funding for those opportunities:

Investigate the Company’s Guidelines

Start by checking your employee handbook and HR materials for policies on employee training. Every company is different but you can expect one of the following possible scenarios:

  • There’s no explicit policy on training activities. They may or may not encourage it and may or may not have budget earmarked for it

  • A clear policy on the types of training covered, including reimbursable and out-of-pocket expenses, employee bonds, and other constraints

  • The company has an explicit policy stating they don’t cover any training

Build Your Case

No matter what the policy, you can still try to build your case to attend the event or take the course. We’ve outlined the steps that will maximize the likelihood of getting your company to support your professional development.

Step 1: Gather Information on Your Professional Development Opportunity

Find the cost, curriculum, duration, deadline for registration, as well as the number and types of attendees. For off-site events, estimate lodging and transportation expenses. You can have these reimbursed or offer to cover the expenses as part of your pitch.

Look to see if the training or conference you want to attend is recognized by industry associations or offers any certifications. Look for reviews from previous attendees or case studies that demonstrate that others have gotten value from the event or course. Not only will these be a good indicator of quality, but lend credibility to your request.

Step 2: Compare with Other Alternatives

Recognize the types of events or courses that your company will be likely to pay for. For example, a small start up may not have the funds or manpower to send you to a week-long international conference, but would be more than happy to pay for a flexible online course.

Make sure to do your research on what conference or training might be the best fit for your situation, and have information about other options in your back pocket. Your case will be stronger if you can argue that you’re getting more value for the money, or that you’ll be away from the office for less time.

Step 3: Establish the ROI for Your Company

Your company isn’t likely to send you to training or a conference purely out of kindness. They expect to see some sort of return on their investment in you.

Possible returns your company may expect to see might be:

  • Finishing your tasks more efficiently or with higher quality

  • Passing on new skills or innovative ideas to your team

  • Finding solutions to specific business problems your team or company is experiencing

  • Leads, referrals and new ideas from the networking opportunities

You might offer to do a brown-bag lunch or presentation to your team to share what you learned at the training. This offer helps demonstrate that you’re taking the training seriously, and not just looking for a trip financed by the company.

Step 4: Anticipate Resistance

Come up with answers to possible questions and objections your boss might throw at you, such as:

  • “What will happen to your pending tasks while you’re away?”

  • “How long will you be away from the office?”

  • “Do you expect us to promote you, or raise your salary after this?”

  • “Why does this cost so much?”

  • “Is it really worth the money? Do you have any testimonials, case studies or proof that demonstrate that it's worth the money?”

  • “Why should the company approve this? What’s in it for us?”

  • “Can’t you just read some blogs or a book on this subject on your own time?”

Step 5: Show Appreciation

Be sure to tell your boss that you appreciate the company making this investment in you, and acknowledge that shows how much they value you as an employee. This will act as a gentle reminder to your boss that employee retention is a two-way street. Plus, remembering to thank them will go a long way if you want to make another ask again in the future.

Make the Request

After doing all your research, consider your relationship with your manager and their working style to decide if you should email them your request, or if you should ask them in person. If you ask them initially in person, they probably won’t be able to make an on-the-spot decision, so keep your request brief, hit on just the key points, and promise to follow up in an email with all the details.

Alternatively, you can email your request first with all the details and then negotiate it in person afterwards.

We’ve provided some templates below for online, in-person trainings and conferences. We’ve used our courses and workshops as examples, but they can easily be modified for any training or event you want to attend.

Informal Request Email Templates

Online Instructor-Led Course Request Template

Hi <Manager’s Name>,

Lately I’ve been feeling a little stuck on <Insert topic(s) from the course - ex. how to improve the way I re-engage disengaged customers>.

So far, I’ve tried reading all the blogs that I can find on <Insert more on the topic you most need help on>, but I still feel like I’m only scratching the surface.

Rather than continuing to invest time in trying to figure this out on my own, I’d like to see if I can take an online course to help me accelerate my understanding.

With this in mind, I did some research and found a company, SuccessCOACHING, that specializes in Customer Success training and education. They offer a couple of online 12-week CSM Coaching courses that look like they would be beneficial. You can check out details on the courses they offer here.

The feedback I’ve seen in testimonials has been really good and they offer the kind of training that I need with a flexible schedule. It would require only an hour of my time every week, so I would not have any issues completing my current responsibilities or managing customer requests.

I’d really like to get registered for the upcoming <insert month> course if you approve and we can cover the <$ amount> cost out of our training budget. After all, if I only learn one thing that helps us to save a customer or secure a renewal, the course has paid for itself.

Can I move forward with this or would you like to discuss?

Thanks,

<Your Name>

Online On-Demand Training Request Template

Hi <Manager’s Name>,

Lately I’ve been feeling a little stuck on <Insert topic(s) from the course - ex. how to improve the way I re-engage disengaged customers>.

So far, I’ve tried reading all the blogs that I can find on <Insert more on the topic you most need help on>, but I still feel like I’m only scratching the surface.

Rather than continuing to invest time in trying to figure this out on my own, I’d like to see if I can take an online course to help me accelerate my understanding.

With this in mind, I did some research and found a company, SuccessCOACHING, that specializes in Customer Success training and education. They offer an on-demand training program for CSMs that looks like it would be beneficial. You can check out details on the courses they offer here.

The feedback I’ve seen in testimonials has been really good and they offer the kind of training that I need, with a flexible schedule. Because the training is on-demand, I can focus on the topics that are most pressing for us, learn at my own pace, and work around my current responsibilities.

I’d get started right away if you approve and we can cover the <$ amount> cost out of our training budget. After all, if I only learn one thing that helps us to save a customer or secure a renewal, the program has paid for itself.

Can I move forward with this or would you like to discuss?

Thanks,

<Your Name>

In-Person Training Request Template

Hi <Manager Name>,

I am writing to request your approval to enroll in the SuccessCOACHING CSM Foundations Customer Success Workshop, in <city> on <days>.

This two-day intensive course is focused on the practical aspects of delivering Customer Success. It covers all the skills, practices, and strategies necessary to succeed as a CSM. The course overview and curriculum can be viewed at https://successcoaching.co/workshops/

During the SuccessCOACHING workshop, I'll learn how to implement Customer Success’ latest trends, best practices, and strategic thinking. Not only will I be learning new skills directly from CS experts, I’ll also learn how we can apply them at <your company> to help us improve the outcomes we provide our customers.

The course is clearly aligned with our goals of <enter your teams goals> and will help me understand how to address some of our biggest challenges.

  • The course material includes:

  • The Key Components of Customer Success

  • How To Think Like Your Customer

  • The Core Principles Of Effective Onboarding

  • A Proven Success Planning Methodology

  • How To Deliver Effective Business Reviews

  • Strategies For Re-Engaging Disengaged Customers

  • How To Drive Increased Customer Lifetime Value

  • A Consultative Approach To Customer Success

  • The Key Disciplines Of Execution

  • Top Strategies For Handling Escalations

  • Crucial Tactics For Handling Tricky Customers

  • The Key Customer Success Metrics Every CSM Should Be Aware Of

I’d only be out of the office for <X> days, and could plan ahead to make my workload manageable in the evenings. I’d also be reachable by phone and email for any urgent customer issues that may arise.

Each workshop normally costs <amount>, but they are offering an early registration deal and if I can register in the next couple of days, I can get the early bird special at <cost>.

I’d really like to get registered for the upcoming workshop if you approve and we can cover the cost of the course and travel out of our budget. After all, if I only learn one thing that helps us to save a customer or secure a renewal, the workshop has paid for itself.

Sincerely,

<Your Name>

Conference Email Template

Hi <Manager Name>,

I am writing to request your approval to attend the <conference name> conference, in <city> on <days>.

The conference is focused on <topics>. These relate directly to my job role and I will learn best practices and new tips that I can share with the entire team when I get back.

The conference has sessions clearly aligned with our goals of <enter your teams goals> and will help me understand how to address some of our biggest challenges. I believe attending this conference will help me deliver better outcomes to my customers.

Some of the sessions I would attend are:

<list names of sessions>

I’d only be out of the office for <X> days, and could plan ahead to make my workload manageable in the evenings. I’d also be reachable by phone and email for any urgent customer issues that may arise.

The conference costs <amount>, but they are offering an early registration deal and if I can register in the next couple of days, I can get the early bird special at <cost>. After all, if I only learn one thing that helps us to save a customer or secure a renewal, the conference has paid for itself.

I’d really like to get registered in time for the early bird special, if you approve and we can cover the cost of the conference and my travel out of our budget.

Sincerely,

<Your Name>

Next Steps

Hopefully you’ve made your case strongly and your manager approves the request, but even if you’ve done everything right, the answer may still be a no. There may be additional budget considerations, they may be worried about losing your expertise, even temporarily, or the value may just not be obvious from the start. That’s OK! Keep your notes and wait for another opportunity, or try again with a less expensive or time-consuming course. Remember, you are an important investment to your company, and helping you improve is in their best interest!

Robyn Petrik

SuccessCOACHING contributor Robyn Petrik is a freelance copywriter originally from Vancouver, Canada, who specializes in blogging, website copy, and social media content. While she happily spends most of her time writing, you’ll also find her reading, hiking, and eating too much peanut butter.