The era of online lifelong professional training is finally here. Online training programs are more efficient for training companies and more flexible for their clients. Online, you can scale your courses, move into new markets, and easily customize content for specific client needs.
Upwork estimates that 25% of Americans will work remotely through 2021 and that 22% of Americans will remain permanently remote by 2025. Many more will work in a hybrid capacity: partly in office and partly online. Face-to-face training cannot reach these employees.
As many US employees become permanently remote workers, online training will become essential. This five-step strategy for selling online training will set your company up for success in the post-pandemic online training explosion.
1. Know Your Customers and Determine What They Want
This is the most important rule. To make a sale, you need to know what your customer needs. What are their pain points? Find these and demonstrate how you can help them.
Perhaps you’ve been doing business with the same organization or company for years. If you haven’t done so, now is the time to tap into your current clients’ brains and determine what motivates them to use your training.
You can learn a great deal about what your clients need qualitatively via informal conversation and student feedback about the value of your training programs. This provides information to help improve your curriculum and offers ideas about who your market is.
Web analytics is your best friend. You can analyze site visitors and determine how they interact with your web storefront using Shopify’s analytics tools. If you don’t use Shopify, you can use other tools, like Google Analytics.
Web analytics will provide you a wealth of information about your leads (i.e., potential customers), including:
- How many people are visiting your training sales page or storefront?
- Which businesses are visiting? Which city, state, or country are they visiting from?
- How much time do different visitors spend perusing your site?
- Which content is visited and consumed the most?
- Which leads are return visitors?
Once you’ve collected enough data, you can begin segmenting different customer leads based on their characteristics, values, interests, and needs. Customer data will come in handy when you start target marketing.
2. Define and Differentiate Your Training
If your potential clients have other options for the same type of training, now you need to explicitly define why they should choose your training solution over the competitors’ services.
You already know the quality of your content. But what do your customers think? Both about your content’s quality and instruction? Having this information will come in handy.
If you aren’t doing so already, you need to survey your current and returning clients. Find out what they enjoy about the training. Are they willing to provide you with any key performance indicators about how their employees do after training?
Training course reviews can also provide you with a wealth of information about why and how your training is chosen and its outcomes are put to use. Evaluations will give you quantitative data demonstrating the perceived quality of your programs. Once you understand the benefits that your current customers are receiving from the training, you will be armed with the information needed to recruit new customers in the future.
From surveys, reviews, and testimonials, you will be able to identify several unique selling features for your training programs. All this data can be used to promote and differentiate your training from the competition. If you have stellar student or client reviews, be sure to include several of the best ones on your website.
Obviously, you won’t always be able to beat the competition on pricing or quality. Even so, you can explore and try to find other value-added market differentiators. For example, perhaps you provide extras that the competition doesn’t—e.g., lifelong access to certain branded training content. Maybe your differentiator is one-on-one time with a trainer or individual consults or an ongoing webinar series for all training alumni. Whatever it is, try to identify or create something that separates your course training offerings from similar ones in a compelling way.
3. Determine Your Marketing Tactics
The tactics that you decide to use will depend on various factors, not least of which is whether you’re targeting businesses directly or individual consumers. However, specific tactics are always required.
- Market Research. Market research has myriad steps. First, you should home in on the current state of the market for your training: how big is the market, and is it healthy, growing, or in decline? Second, determine who and where your chief competition is. It’s always smart to constantly research the competition to see how your offerings compare in price, quality, and modality. Finally, you will want to use SEO tools to determine how potential customers search for training like yours. You can determine your ideal customer’s pain points from how they search the web. Once you’ve identified the training that they’re looking for, based on their own search terms, you can move in for a sale.
- Pricing. There are many strategies when it comes to pricing. One thing remains constant: the goal is to make a profit. Lower the price to cast a wider net. Raise it to appear more “selective” and “elite.” Monitor your competition, and survey your current clients to ensure that your price doesn’t become a pain point for potential customers.
- Sales and Promotions. People love the idea of receiving free things. Depending on your training, this may work for you: “Buy two training programs, get access to a third for half price!” Be careful, though. You probably don’t want your training program to sound too rebate-store-like. E-commerce platforms like Shopify make promotions easy to set up.
- Content and Communication. Create and distribute content that appeals to potential customers on the channels (i.e., platforms) that they use. You will want to draft—or hire out—engaging copy for your sales and landing pages. Branded emails with updates about your offerings remind people of your services and may be forwarded. Social media engagement is a stellar way to keep up with former and current customers. An e-commerce platform integrated with your LMS can help streamline content and communications.
- Advertising. Paid ads allow you to set your own budget, choose your demographic target parameters with fantastic accuracy, and track ROI. Use Google’s Keyword Planner to find popular SEO keywords in your industry and purchase relevant ads that link to your landing pages. Alternatively, sponsored social media posts can be an effective way to increase brand awareness, drive web traffic, and convert leads. If you’re part of a small team, consider hiring a digital advertising expert to handle this for you.
- Customer Service. Treating your customers well and making them happy is the surest way to grow your market. Word-of-mouth advertising is still one of the top ways that companies make sales. Existing clients are 50% more likely to reuse a service and 31% more likely to spend more than new customers. Keep them happy by being responsive and attentive!
4. Set Quantifiable Marketing Goals
Every training company dreams of becoming as successful as LinkedIn Learning. It’s easy to forget, however, that LinkedIn Learning started as a small training business like any other, called Lynda. The founder, Lynda Weinman, grew her business by setting realistic, quantifiable goals. She didn’t stop once the company was successful either. Weinman and her company continually reevaluated what customers wanted, and once the initial goals were achieved, they set new ones. Eventually, she was acquired by Microsoft’s LinkedIn.
Goal setting is key to successful sales. It’s imperative that your company continually update its goals based on some type of metric (e.g., previous performance, competition analysis, industry data, etc.). Only by updating your goals will you know whether you are growing as efficiently as possible.
Set spending caps and goals per lead or new customer. Evaluate which channels—e.g., social media, Google search, webinars, etc.—bring in more customers than others per dollar spent. Continually search and refine how you are advertising. If specific marketing methods or techniques aren’t showing positive returns, abandon them for new approaches.
Marketing is like creating a course this way—it’s iterative. It gets better and more efficient over time with feedback, but only if you incorporate the feedback and do something with it!
5. Repeat the Process
Iteration is fundamental to success. Go through this process once, and you will have a competitive program—today. Go through this process repeatedly, and your training company will remain competitive tomorrow and in the future.
Successful sales require constant market surveillance and customer data collection. You need to ask the right questions and update your marketing tactics to solve evolving training needs and customer pain points as they arise. There is no time to rest on your laurels when it comes to selling your training programs. Sales growth only occurs by continually honing and identifying new markets over time.
Selling your training programs is an iterative and ongoing process. Successful companies identify what their customers expect to get from training, how to provide what customers need, and how to differentiate their programs from the competition. Your training company can grow its market share and continue to offer quality training to a changing market by following the strategy outlined here.
Here at Firmwater, we don’t just sell an LMS for training providers. We partner with our clients, giving them the tools and insights they need to implement the best practices in e-learning course development, growth, and delivery. We care too much about our customers’ businesses to have them wade through forums and chatbots for help.
Ready to use an LMS that’s designed for the way YOU work, with a team dedicated to YOUR needs? Book a no-obligation consultation directly with our team today!