When it comes to customer education programs, most training teams focus on the development and delivery, as that's where their strengths are. Yet there are other equally important aspects that have significant impacts on customer outcomes too. I'm talking about the sales and marketing of training programs, as well as analysis and reporting. And given that there are entire disciplines centered on these topics, it's no wonder many education teams are ignoring them.
What training managers may not realize is that there are many different sales, marketing, and analytics applications out there that can help them with these tasks. Applications that are easy to use and can generate a lot of return on the investment in them.
Here are three categories of training applications you may not know about, but should get familiar with.
Sales Applications: Specifically Tax Apps
Depending on where you are and where your customers are, you may have to charge sales tax on your training. Keeping a handle on all this information can be a challenge, and quite frankly, not a valuable use of a training manager's time. With tools like Avalara's AvaTax, you save time and effort on calculating and collecting sales tax for your training programs. It integrates with your existing eCommerce or POS systems and automatically calculates sales tax on all your training sales. AvaTax is certified to work with accounting systems, ERP and CRM providers, and many of the world's leading eCommerce software, so you're sure it will work with your current systems.
Reason(s) to Use Them: Automate the entire sales tax process, so you don't have to manually enter any information and integrate it with your current payment processing software. Stay compliant with global sales tax laws.
Marketing Applications: We're Talking Marketing Automation
If you've spent any time with your marketing colleagues, you've heard all about marketing automation tools. It's been one of the biggest trends in online marketing as it simplifies and centralizes online marketing efforts that help companies build long-term relationships with prospects and customers. Yes, that's right, marketing automation tools are useful for both prospects who haven't heard about you yet, as well as your existing customers. A real time-saver in the cloud-based learning application world, wouldn't you say?
A marketing automation tool like Marketo helps training teams (or the marketing teams that support them) increase revenue by focusing their sales efforts on the hottest prospects and customers, and then drive engagement with them. The stats say that anywhere from 66-90% of a customer's buying journey is self-directed (at least according to various Forrester studies), so it's worth investing in a good marketing automation tool like Marketo to keep the marketing pipeline fed with valuable and helpful content. These tools help centralize marketing efforts so that training, marketing, and sales team are speaking the same "language," understand the business goals they're each trying to meet with their programs, and how they can work together to achieve them.
Reason(s) to Use Them: Collaborate with the marketing and sales pros at your company without adding time and effort to your training organization. Benefit from their expertise to get the word out about your training programs, while you offer your expertise to them. You're able to speak to new prospects and existing customers easily with relevant content they'll uniquely appreciate.
Analytics Applications: Specifically Business Intelligence & Reporting for Training
Today's employee has access to so much customer data that sometimes it's hard to figure out what to do with it all. Training managers use it to identify gaps in their training programs, evaluate training delivery, and report on revenue successes to upper management.
Business intelligence (BI) applications like GoodData and Birst can help you discover the value in the data you already have without increasing IT costs or compromising existing systems and applications. These BI tools integrate seamlessly with your existing infrastructure, pulling in data from your current systems and then deliver exactly the analytics your training organization needs.
Reason(s) to Use Them: Create customized reporting and analytics for your training organization. Learn about what's working and what's not on a regular basis so that you can steer your training teams more meaningfully. No more shooting in the dark and creating programs you "think" your customers need. You'll create targeted and relevant programs your customers appreciate.
Get Expert Help to Run Your Training Org
All of these tools are in heavy rotation with the rest of your software company, so it's time that you use them for your training teams too. They'll help you create more targeted training programs (BI tools); collaborate better and more effectively with your marketing and sales peers (marketing automation); and takes all the effort out of sales tax calculation and collection (sales tax tools.) They may not seem like "sexy" learning applications, but they are useful ones to any training manager and organization.