In this episode of Helping Sells Radio, Sarah and Bill are joined by Pat Durante, Senior Director of Education Services at Black Duck Software and President of the Computer Education Management Association (CEdMA) to talk about the continuously blurring line between technical marketing, customer education, software adoption services, and customer success.
What is the Computer Management Education Association?
At the beginning of the episode, we talked to Pat about CEdMA. His dedication and passion for the education services business is reflected in his commitment to CEdMA, an organization of customer education leaders at technology companies, large and small, from IBM to Black Duck Software. CEdMA members share ideas about how to improve education services and help customers get the most out of the companies' products. CEdMA has over 300 members representing 120 technology companies, which makes the organization intimate and collaborative.
Members engage around common challenges and collaborate with each other to overcome these challenges. CEdMA hosts conferences during the year and the next one is in Boston on October 25-26, 2016.
Pat shared that what CEdMA conferences different is that they are intimate and, most importantly, that they consist mostly of members giving talks to other members. They share real-life work, challenges, mistakes, outcomes, successes, and best practices with each other. This seems like just about the most helpful way to have a conference. People really learning from each other.
Common Challenges in Education Services
After talking about CEdMA, the conversation went to the most common challenges that education services professionals face. Pat described two of the most common challenges:
Challenge #1: How to get license sellers (sales teams) to sell more training
The challenge here is that software sales teams are focused on selling the core product. Add-on services are not necessarily a priority. Pat discussed that education teams need to make it worth a sales team's while to sell training by packaging it in a way that the dollars make a noticeable impact on deal size. One way to do this is to package training in bundles that could be in the range of $10,000 to $100,000. This will certainly gain the attention of a sales team.
Challenge #2: How to get more training attached at the time the software is sold
The second challenge is all about attach rates. It will be much more difficult to sell training to customers after they have purchased and have started using the product. It should be sold up front as part of the deal. Pat talked about some companies that have sales teams that have people dedicated to selling professional services (including training), and other larger organizations that have dedicated sales teams for education services. Whatever the circumstance, education services should be part of every software deal proposal.
What About Selling Training as a Subscription?
We could not talk about selling training in a subscription economy without talking to Pat about selling training as a service, by subscription. He is doing just that very successfully at Black Duck Software and talks about other technology companies that do it successfully too. More and more customers are beginning to expect to purchase training on subscription, but Pat offers a warning. Although this is a huge opportunity for education services teams to contribute to recurring revenue, teams need to be committed to keeping content up-to-date and to release new training products that keep customers' needs and product evolution in mind. In other words, keep offering continuously improving value for the subscription. Training consumption becomes an even bigger issue. And after all, if you do this, you are on the hook for getting the customers to renew the training subscription.
What Does Training Have to Do With Helping Sells?
We talked about how training relates to sales with Pat. His approach is to think about how training impacts a customer's outcome and tying training to the result a customer achieves. Pat cited a few studies that showed training leading to increased project success and even to product sales.
Here are links to those studies.
- Does Skill Impact Project Success? - IDC Research
- IBM Whitepaper on the Value of Training (Training leading to increased product sales).
MicroLearning and Will We Someday Deliver Training Through SnapChat?
Sarah asked Pat if technology companies will be delivering training through SnapChat? The answer is closer to yes than you think, and it has to do with bite-sized learning. Pat described a service his team at Black Duck Software software uses to deliver micro assessments to customer mobile devices to reinforce what they learned in training. It appears to be improving retention.
The Blurring Line Between Technical Marketing, Education Services, and Adoption Services
Finally, we talked about how education is becoming infused in all stages of the buyer and customer journey. In other words, there is learning going on in marketing, during the sales cycle, and after someone becomes a customer. Sales teams are educating prospects and so are support teams. You can call it technical marketing. You can call it education. You can call it customer success. You can call it adoption services. Pat doesn't care what you call it. The ultimate goal is to help customers be better at using your software.
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