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Drop Everything and Create This Software Training Course Next

Written by Bill Cushard

Published on November 14, 2017

If your company runs customer on-boarding or professional services engagements through customer success or professional services teams, you need to build a software training course about how to implement your software immediately. Chances are you do not have a course like this, and it could be one of the quickest wins you have all year. Here's why. For starters, a course like this is outcome-focused, and the outcome is a successful implementation. Second, a "How to Implement" course is a new product, with a new price level, targeted at a new customer segment. Third, since your company already has an implementation process, and runs it with customers every day, creating the course will not be very much work. You already have the content.

When I say drop everything and do this immediately, I almost mean it literally. At the very least, I strongly urge you to consider doing this. In fact, let me help you create your business case using the following reasons.

A Business Case for Creating Your Next Course

Low investment: It should not take that much time to create a "How to Implement" course. Since you already (presumably) have your implementation process documented, you just need to work with your CSM or PS teams and then translate what they do, repeatedly with customers, to a course format so customers can learn the process. Your course development time should be low compared to other new courses you create.

Speed to market: This also means you can get this course to market quickly. In fact, you could test how this goes by selling this course before you create it. Just write up a course description and put it on your website for sale. Or get the course into Salesforce as a product, create a PDF product sheet, and provide one slide for your account executives, so they can add it to their presentations. Do all of this before you develop the course. If someone buys it, then start building course. 

A new product to a new customer segment: If you price this course properly, you can open up an entirely new segment of customers to purchase this course. This is the segment of customers who cannot (or will not) afford a professional services engagement, but still need help implementing your software. Small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers, for example. Your sales team knows who these people are. Find the list of customers that did not purchase a professional services engagement from your win/loss reports and ask your sales team to target that group for this new training course. 

The price is right and the theory of relativity: If you position this training in comparison to a professional services engagement, it will both steer enterprise customers to purchase consulting and drive SMBs to purchase training, which is an ideal scenario. For example, when selling to an SMB, an account executive could show a slide that shows how a consulting engagement is important to a successful implementation and how you help customers do it properly with a proven implementation process. The slide shows a price starting at $50,000 (or whatever your typical engagement looks like). When an SMB customer baulks, the AE says (and shows the next slide), alternatively, a customer can purchase a private training course for $8,000, get their entire team in a room with an expert instructor, and learn all of these processes, methods and best practices. The $8,000 course looks inexpensive and very relevant to that type of customers. It is both reasonably priced and addresses the needs of the small customer intimidated by fancy consulting engagement. 

Increase average selling price: Further, you can increase average selling price by attaching training to deals that would otherwise not purchase additional services. In other words, deals with SMBs could have increased average selling prices, which are deals that would not necessarily have services attached to them.

There will be resistance

If you read this and think it is a good idea, let me warn you. You will have resistance.

  1. Your sales team will not like it
  2. Your professional services team will not light like it. 

The good news is that your management team and your finance team will love it.

Your sales team will not like it because your course will not be priced as high as a professional services engagement. Therefore, account executives will not want to sell this course. Even worse, they will think some customers will want to buy your low priced course and not buy an engagement.

Let me debunk this on two levels. Simply put. A customer who would buy a four week professional services engagement, needs help implementing your product. They don't think they can just do it themselves, and even if they do, they know that they do not have the resources to do it. After all, a four week engagement could cost at least $48,000 (at a rate of $300 per hour). This type of value and service does not compete with a one or a two day course priced at $2,000 to $12,000.

SMBs are price sensitive customers and/or think they can do everything themselves. These customers will not buy your professional services engagements anyway. But many of these customers still needs help. Just a different kind of help. If you teach these customers your professional services process, or otherwise teach them best practices for how to implement your product, they will pay for that and they will be better customers. Plus, instead of trying to tell them a $48,000 (or way more) engagement, which they obviously cannot afford, you sell them a $6,000 full day training course and help them help themselves.

They will appreciate that you have that kind of service that meets their needs. 

Your finance people will love this because the margins are way higher on a training engagement like this. Let's look at that $48,000, four week engagement. The hourly rate on that is $300 per hour. Not bad. Not bad if there is no rework. Do you ever have rework? Not bad if you estimated the work properly. Did you ever estimate badly and have to go back to the customer to rescope and ask for change requests and increased the budgets? Not good.

But.

If you run an eight hour training course and charge $6,000, that hourly rate is $750 per hour of instructor time. And let me say, for many software companies, $6,000 for a full day private training course is low. 

New product, new segment, new revenue

The reason I say drop everything and make this "how to implement your software" course is because it allows you to create a new product, to sell to a new customer, and the investment in creating this course should be less than creating most other courses. We get so caught up in teaching new customer how to use our product, we forget about the ultimate outcomes are customers are seeking. Certainly, customers need to learn features, but setting up your product the right way, in their environment, and in their culture of working, is critical to a successful rollout and to ongoing use. So, don't just on-board customers on your product. Teach them how to implement your software properly.


Webinar: Software Adoption Crash Course for Customer Education Leaders

Speaking of adoption, Maria Manning-Chapman, vice president of education services research at TSIA, will be our guest on our upcoming webinar. She will talk about why customer education is ideal for driving adoption and how to do it. Manning-Chapman will talk about the research she has been conducting, and how you can leverage your customer education progams to drive customer adoption. Sign up now. 

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