Gain expert insights on how to sell your training on Shopify with this free eBook!
From Best Practices to Better Businesses
What are the best practices for selling professional training courses? If you’re like many other training professionals, you’re probably wondering what leaders in the industry are doing to ensure that they’re on the leading edge. We wrote this ebook with you in mind. We want to give you the best information available, allowing you to thrive and grow as a training provider. Our goal is to see each and every one of our clients succeed, and we will be there throughout the process to support you however we can.
This ebook will walk you through a set of practices that you can use to create a successful marketing and sales plan. We will take you from the beginnings of market research and how to find a unique selling proposition to more complex issues, like finding the right partners to help your business grow. Advanced techniques that you will learn about include digital marketing strategies, the most effective campaign tools, and the best sales tactics to reach your customers.
We hope that you find these best practices helpful. Please reach out to speak with an expert at any time.
Compete for Clients, Not for Cash
Today’s e-learning market is vast and easily accessible. How’s a training company like yours supposed to compete? While marketing is the obvious answer, taking specific steps will set you apart from other training providers. Following best practices for marketing and selling professional training courses will set you up for great client relationships and steady sales. Like Jeffrey Gitomer, sales and marketing expert and author of The Little Red Book of Selling, says, “Great salespeople are relationship builders who provide value and help their customers win.”
Best practices are so much more than just marketing and selling. Successfully competing in the e-learning market today requires thorough research and planning. Preparation will set you up for growth, both in sales and in terms of moving toward the future of what your business could be. Commit to taking the necessary time to learn and prepare by setting big goals, identifying and mining your resources, and determining your budget.
In all that you do to set yourself up for success, remember that your relationship with your clients—both present and potential—is the top priority. People buy from companies they trust, making it crucial that you build relationships and make personal connections right from the start. The best way to do this is to make sure you know and understand your client and their needs fully so you can speak to their experiences, forming a connection and building their trust in your brand.
Online, Offline, Hybrid: E-learning Starts with Your Client
As a training provider, your typical clients are professional buyers or high-level executives. Selling to these clients requires a great deal of professionalism and planning. Conduct intense market research to formulate your sales and marketing plan. If you are compiling data from current clients, consider sending out surveys. Find out what your customers like about your current offerings and where there are new opportunities for you to grow. Identify your competitors and know how you compare.
Use social media to your benefit. It can play a significant role in relationship building if you do it right. Figure out which social media channels will allow you the greatest access to potential buyers and decision-makers. Consider using social listening tools to determine what potential buyers are saying about their needs and the services that you offer. You can uncover trends in your industry and use analytics to shape your social media content and strategy.
Keyword research will increase the success of your use of social listening tools. It is also helpful with SEO. Consider using well-known tools, such as Google Keyword Planner or Google Trends, to discover keyword popularity, find new related keywords, and get real-time data on the search terms that your customers are using. To get the full benefits of keyword research and SEO work, you must understand searcher intent. Pay attention to specific language in the search terms to give you clues about what your prospective buyers need and want.
Once you have a solid picture of who your buyers are, what they want from you, and where to find them on social media, it’s time to start setting yourself apart from the competition.
Your Unique Selling Proposition Is Your Superpower
What makes your company unique? Is there overlap between what your company does best and what your customers want? This intersection is your unique selling proposition (USP). Developing a USP is one of the best ways to compete in a crowded market, and its importance cannot be understated. Take the time to identify and evaluate specific differences between your brand and others. How do your differences set you apart? Maybe there’s a new way to position your products and services that will increase buyer footfall to your brand. Use these unique points, and measure them against the data that you compiled during market research. Anywhere that your uniqueness overlaps with what your buyers want and need is part of your USP.
Your USP is more than simple copy that you put up on a webpage and social media. It plays a role in all aspects of marketing and selling your professional training courses. Your USP will direct how you position and sell your training products and where and how you will market them. It needs to tell your audience the specific benefits that they will receive by choosing your training products. A good USP will also direct your initial interactions with followers and customers online and build your authenticity as a business.
So far, you’ve worked out who your buyer is, what they want, where to find them online, and decided on your USP. Now you must choose how to deliver your training courses through a learning management system (LMS).
The Right Partners Will Grow Your Business
As a Firmwater customer, you can provide your clients with a recognizable and seamless learning experience on a dedicated site. You’ll save time and money because you can create client sites and grant course access within minutes. If you have multiple clients, you can serve all your user populations from a single interface with independent data and content.
Firmwater is a total white-label solution that allows you to work with large organizations that require single sign-on or use of their own LMS. With external LMS integration, you maintain control over your content, which is securely hosted on Firmwater, while your client delivers it from their own system. Each site can use custom branding and have different logos and separate domains, emails, and login pages. Clients can also customize completion certificates and email templates.
There are many marketplace options to sell your training courses. These include Udemy, Coursera, and Udacity. However, some of these educational sites present complex challenges. For starters, many training providers are on these sites, making it necessary (and challenging) to have your company stand out. Not all educational hosting services provide the tools necessary to make your brand rise above the others. A significant problem with such marketplaces is that you can lose control of your content. Pay attention to vendor lock-in issues when you use marketplace-provided authoring tools, and be sure you can collect and maintain ownership of your data.
Read the fine print before you sign on the dotted line: many educational marketplaces take large shares of your sales as a listing fee. That said, some of these places may be exactly what you need to get your programs in front of users. If it’s management that you’re looking for, several marketplaces take care of all aspects of your training content and sales for you. Every company has different needs; you know yours best.
Firmwater + Shopify
One benefit of using Firmwater is the ability to sell through Shopify. Not only is our platform built specifically for training companies, but we also chose to partner with one of the most powerful e-commerce sites available. As such, you get the flexibility and ability to grow and scale your business the way that you want on a dedicated platform. Shopify offers services in over 175 countries. Shopify gives you access to Shopify Experts and the Shopify App Store. In addition to selling digital products, you can sell physical products through your online store. Shopify has different plans to meet your needs depending on your workflow, including Basic, Shopify, and Advanced Shopify. Shopify Plus offers enterprise-grade solutions, and there’s even a simple, $9-a-month plan called Shopify Lite for those who are more comfortable starting small.
Learning to use the Shopify integration will help you build, grow, and scale your business using an automated system. You can customize a website and online store in minutes using one of Shopify’s many website templates. The platform enables you to sell your courses individually, in bundles, or as subscriptions. Consider if you will be selling single seats or multiple seats at a time. Either way, orders are delivered seamlessly and automatically. Add the Shopify “Buy Button” to your website, and sell directly to your customers without interrupting their user experience.
Firmwater and Shopify have many features, and you can mix and match according to your needs or the needs of your clients. For example, you could automate some of your sales by setting up a client site linked to your Shopify store that is purely for e-commerce purchases. At the same time, you can set up branded client sites for enterprise clients and provide varying levels of course access and admin privileges. When you have fully integrated Shopify into your site, you’re ready to start marketing your professional training courses.
API and Webhooks
For customers using e-commerce sites other than Shopify or online store platforms such as SAP or Netsuite, Firmwater LMS with Orders API is available. Using an API is typically for enterprise-level customers who may be using an ERP system. You can sync data between applications using a secure application programming interface.
You can also register a Webhook URL with Firmwater LMS. When a webhook is configured, it will post updates in real time when certain conditions occur on the Firmwater LMS. Webhooks are commonly used to send course completion data to another system.
Marketing and Selling Professional Training Courses
There are many options for marketing your training courses. You can choose from free or paid options or a mix of both. The best free option is social media, as there are various channels available, so you can select the ones that will best serve your business. Look back at your market research. Choose your social media outlets based on where your customers spend their time online. Be sure to pay attention to the resources that you have available—don’t stretch them too thin by using too many accounts. Many businesses start with three, providing a decent amount of coverage without being overwhelming.
Staying connected to your followers on social media is an excellent way to begin marketing your services and products. Providing clients valuable content to connect with can help with engagement and increase click-through rates and even sales. Use your socials to get your customers in the metaphorical door. Start by offering them something for free. Free webinar access is becoming an increasingly popular way to attract target populations to services. Webinars are often live, which offers a connection between you and the client, and provide sneak peeks of what you can offer. All of that combined often leads to sales. Give attendees exclusive access to free downloads or discounted products during the webinar to collect leads. However, as tempting as it is, don’t look at the free samples of your work as quick lead magnets. Focus on providing information that your audience truly needs and wants. You can offer significant value to prospective buyers while also marketing your training courses.
Another way to market your work is through your blog. Does your company run a blog on its website? Most do, but if you don’t, get on it! A blog is the perfect tool to let your current audience know about any new training courses that you’re offering. Do you want to reach a wider audience? Approach a few well-known publications in your industry and see if they allow guest posting. Ensure that your posts’ content is knowledgeable and professional and always include links back to your site.
If you’re ready to invest in paid options to drive customers to your brand, native ad content is the best place to start, though it takes a bit of care. Test ads first to see if they are going to drive traffic that converts into sales. Otherwise, you may get the traffic but no revenue. Start with a limited budget, and only increase spending on the ads that are generating the traffic that follows through with a purchase. Be sure to test and publish your ads on social media, podcasts, and outside websites. Another paid option is to develop sponsored content. If there are influencers, social media accounts, or influential publications/individuals in your industry, sponsored content makes sense. Content that comes from a trusted source may be more effective with your target audience than traditional ads. Again, appeal to your audience based on your market research. Marketing dollars are precious: don’t waste them in spaces where your clientele doesn’t spend time. Any paid marketing content or activity should be planned, purposeful, and based on research and analytic data to get the best return on your investment.
Using these tactics on your own can be daunting and costly, but luckily, Firmwater and Shopify offer you practical tools to promote and grow your business.
Firmwater + Shopify = A Winning Combination for Campaign Creation
Shopify is a powerful platform for marketing and selling your professional training course. Its marketing tools will help you pinpoint your audience, reach them with promotions, and offer constant insights and reports on how to improve your campaign. Shopify Email simplifies the process of developing an email marketing campaign, featuring ready-made templates just waiting for your branding and products. You can even send emails from your company domain and still manage your campaign through the Shopify dashboard.
Shopify’s campaign creation uses Google Smart Shopping. Combining your Google AdWords account and Shopify’s Google channel puts your courses in front of millions of potential buyers, no matter your budget. Free and paid listings make your products and courses climb up the results list, so when customers go searching, you’ll have solutions to their problems.
Using Shopify doesn’t stop with Google, though. It easily integrates with Facebook and Instagram, two of the largest social networks, giving you the ability to build ads, create shoppable posts, and get your courses in front of your target audience with little effort. There are many other channels that you can sell through Shopify, but be aware that not all of them support digital products. For example, you cannot sell your digital goods on eBay, Pinterest, or Amazon.
On top of all this built-in power, Shopify offers thousands of apps and plugins to support your business. These range from helping you find sales channels to marketing design and tracking productivity and analytics.
Shopify Apps and Plugins
Working with one of the largest e-commerce platforms has many benefits. One is the astounding number of choices that it offers your business. Shopify has over 5,000 apps and plugins (free and paid) to help you build, grow, and manage your online storefront. Several apps are made specifically for digital products.
Do you want to offer tiered pricing and bulk discounts? Try a paid app like Bold Quantity Breaks to create quantity break pricing based on the number of courses that a client buys. Explore free options like Quantity Breaks & Discounts by Amai or QD by TenGrowth. You can use standard bulk pricing for every day or run limited promotions.
SEO must be a top priority for your digital storefront. Using apps like SEO Optimizer: All-in-One SEO by Booster Apps or Plug In SEO by SureSwift Capital will automate your SEO and optimize your page. Optimization will boost your ranking and get your courses in front of the right audience. There are also apps to help design your online store, build your customer base, add customer reviews, and even create landing pages.
Firmwater + Shopify saves you time with the power of automation and the tools to develop your online training storefront. You can take your company to the next level by incorporating specific sales tactics to engage your shoppers.
Make Sure You Sell It
Enlist specific sales tactics for selling professional training courses to quickly and easily increase your bottom dollar. Designing a dedicated landing page, building sales funnels, and using tried-and-true copywriting techniques will help you reach and exceed your sales goals.
Landing pages tend to work best with an already engaged audience, like your social media followers, for example. These warm leads are familiar with you, and if they are clicking through to your site from your ads, they’re already interested in what you are selling. Regardless, a dedicated landing page should not be the first point of contact with potential clients if there’s a disconnect between what’s on the landing page and the ad or listing that brought them there. Relevancy is essential. So, design a landing page that is simple and easy to navigate and clearly states the benefits of your products and services. Your landing page should continue the conversation that started from the ad and end in a conversion. It’s all about removing distractions and focusing on what you have to offer so your clients will click “buy.” Landing pages are part of a good sales funnel.
Sales funnels guide customers through the entire sales process, turning prospective browsers into buyers. Does this sound too good to be true? It kind of is! Building your own sales funnels can be complicated and require technical knowledge. However, the return on investment usually makes it worthwhile, especially if you use an app or service to cut down on your workload. Within Shopify, there are a few apps, like Offerbox Sales Funnels by Pasilobus, that can help. You can also use outside sources, such as the well-known Click Funnels, or more price-savvy options, like GetResponse Conversion Funnel and Wishpond.
Remember that even if your landing page looks good and your sales funnels are solid, they’re nothing without good copy. The benefits of excellent copywriting across all your media cannot be understated. Nothing kills a lead faster than lousy copy. While you aren’t going to become a copywriting master overnight, there are a few quick tips and tricks that you can use to grab attention, generate leads, and boost sales.
First, use emotion-based terminology. Professional copywriters know the power of their words, and persuasive writing counts on precise language to sway readers. The most important words when it comes to copy and marketing include “you,” “free,” “because,” “instantly,” and “new.” Work these words into your sales copy, and see what happens!
The second thing that you can do to improve your copy is to show off your company’s personality in your content. People don’t want to buy from robots; they want to buy from people. Your tone and voice should be unique to your brand and consistent across all your content. Adding this level of authenticity will increase clients’ trust in you.
Third, focus on benefits and not on price. While the pricing of your training courses is important, companies will buy from the training provider that understands and meets their needs, not just their budget. Benefit-oriented language is about more features; it’s also about why those features matter to your client.
Lastly, focus on developing a solid call-to-action (CTA) through your copywriting. It should be front and center on your landing page, in your sales funnel, and any time that you want a prospective client to make a move. A good salesperson never ends a pitch without asking for the customer’s business, and that’s what a good CTA does. Focus on how your training courses benefit the client or how you can help them solve a problem. Turn the benefits or solutions into a short and sweet line that will convince your audience to act. Try looking through examples online. Check out what your industry competitors are doing with their CTAs to help you make yours stand out.
Now that you are set up with some of the best practices for marketing and selling your professional training courses, you need to put a price on them. Pricing can be complex, however, and it varies based on the unique needs of your business. Learn about different pricing strategies so you can decide what’s best.
An excellent way to start deciding on prices is by looking at your costs of creation. It’s vital to balance your markup with affordability for your clients. This technique is known as cost-plus pricing. You decide what percentage over costs to markup, making this a relatively simple strategy. Another approach is to research your competition, undercut them, or price above them while positioning yourself as a premium option. Both methods have pros and cons, so it’s all about what’s best for your business. If your industry has a great deal of competition and slight variance, competitive pricing may work best. If you have only a few competitors and can differentiate yourself or already have brand equity, premium pricing could be more effective. Most importantly, do your research and find out as much as possible about your client’s willingness to buy at specific price points.
See Who Sold It
Firmwater LMS is used in over 300 organizations and has been around since 2001. Clients have thrived with this LMS. They enjoy the unique benefits that they get from a small company dedicated to serving them and their business needs.
Learning Partner is a Canada-based continuing education provider for Certified Financial Planners and insurance advisors. Using Firmwater LMS + Shopify, Learning Partner developed online training programs and took them to market quickly, increasing its customer base significantly. When it began using Shopify, it decreased order abandonment and gained confidence in its system!
Contented is a New Zealand-based company that sells courses on modern communication. Their award-winning courses are used for both corporate training and professional development. They use Firmwater LMS + Shopify to sell and deliver their courses on digital writing skills. Contented has had great success asking for a product review in their LMS course completion emails. The customer exchanges product reviews in return for discounts on future courses.
Best Practices Build Best Businesses
The e-learning market space is quickly growing and always changing. Following the best practices for marketing and selling professional training courses will help you stay at the forefront of the market. To give you an edge, partner with trusted professionals to remain current. Sign up for our mailings to keep informed. With over 2,000 client sites, 400,000 users, and 200 million course completions, the Firmwater LMS can help you succeed. Our clients are our partners, and we want to see you sell and deliver the best e-learning solutions possible. Our experts and industry-leading support professionals are here to take care of any questions or troubleshooting as you get started.
When you follow the best practices to market and sell your professional training, building a lasting relationship with your clients and increasing your profits is a breeze. Begin with your client in mind and determine your unique selling proposition. Leverage the power of Firmwater LMS + Shopify. Market your training courses with Shopify’s Campaign Creation Tools, and use good sales tactics. Most importantly, take the first steps today to get started with these practices. Maybe you’ll be our next success story!
Firmwater specializes in the training company space and can help you develop solutions to improve your e-learning strategy and grow your sales. Always feel free to contact the team to speak with an expert if you’re feeling stuck or need guidance. Firmwater is more than an LMS training provider. We partner with customers, providing them with the tools and expert insight that they need to implement the best in-practice e-learning course development and delivery. Our customers have been trusting us for years to deliver their high-quality training, freeing them up to focus on growing their business.
Ready to use an LMS that’s designed for the way YOU work, with a team dedicated to YOUR needs? Take Firmwater for a free 14-day test drive today!