8 Ways To Grow Your Training Business During A Pandemic
Digital transformation has quickly become the main focus for many training organisations, simply in order to survive.
Despite the vast majority of training businesses facing reduced demand and an uncertain future, there are a small pocket that have managed to thrive.
A couple of weeks back, accessplanit hosted Sales Geek on a webinar to discuss the art of online training. Sales Geek are an innovative sales training organisation who, typically, would provide face to face courses for their clients. From the moment social distancing measures were enforced in the UK, they were quick to respond and, interestingly, have managed to grow their business by transitioning online as a result. Jonathan Finch, Chief Training Geek at Sales Geek says the current pandemic will “revolutionise the way training is run” and that the training landscape will never be the same again.
We’ve identified 8 ways forward-thinking training organisations like Sales Geek have been able to grow their business during the pandemic.
1) Reallocating resource
Perhaps the most recognised and obvious benefit of transitioning to web-based training, is the cost savings. Things like venue fees, equipment for the day and travel costs don’t exist, meaning training budgets can be stretched up to twice as far.
Jonathan also explained how web-based courses offer the opportunity to train more people per session compared to in-person training. Virtual classrooms are capable of handling more participants than you would normally train, without impeding the effectiveness of the session. The opportunity for you as a business lies in that you can offer discounts, special offers and price reductions if necessary, to encourage bookings without losing out financially. One example used by Jonathan was that instead of offering an £100 course to 10 participants, you can offer a £50 course to 20 delegates instead.
Many providers are re-investing budget savings to increase their marketing efforts in order to promote their new online offerings through things like Pay-Per-Click advertising, Social Media and Email Campaigns. Having your whole business accountable and actively contributing to your social outreach can go a long way to increasing exposure and encouraging new business.
Reallocating resource relies on being dynamic and firmly on top of your cash flow. Being lean and adaptable as a workforce means you’re offering value in the right areas for your clients. Being a software provider, one thing we’re focusing on at accessplanit is product developments related to COVID-19; recognising this is where our resource is best allocated to offer our customers value.
2) New territory
Our recent training industry survey found that as of March 2020, over half of training businesses offer no form of eLearning.
It’s important to remember, the vast majority of these have all had to react the exact same way as you following the announced social distancing measures. It’s unrealistic to think anyone out there has the silver bullet in these uncharted waters - it’s the closest you’re going to get to a level playing field.
This in itself, is a great opportunity to attract new business. By being proactive instead of reactive, you can acquire business from those unwilling or slow to adjust to digital transformation.
For Sales Geek, their social presence and client base was already in a strong position pre-COVID-19, but even with a small following, your training organisation can still implement similar initiatives to attract new business.
The Geek Huddle they run every morning is a perfect example of a free value-add initiative for their network.
There’s nothing stronger than a plan.
I recently sat in on a webinar hosted by Don Millar, CEO of StoryBrand. In the webinar he raised a very memorable point in that your message needs to pivot during a crisis. This relies on staying ahead of the curve, and proactive with the way you’re attracting new and existing business.
Perhaps the best place to start with a plan is to focus on two specific periods, the now (pandemic) and in X months’ time (business resurgence). The two messages you need to deliver to your clients could not be more different. The former, relies on empathy, support and authority. The latter relies on encouragement, reassurance and opportunity.
What this means for a training provider, is your course offerings being promoted at the right time. If you offer a ‘wellbeing whilst working from home’ course, you may be a little late to the party for maximum impact. In the same way, perhaps now isn’t the best time to announce a 2020 in-person event or conference! Consider the challenges and circumstance of your clients and review it weekly.
Despite not being a training course per se, our webinar with Sales Geek attracted more sign-ups than ever before. It was the information the industry needed, precisely when they needed it. If we had run that webinar this time last year, we’d have been lucky to attract 20% of the interest. Timing is everything.
4) Identifying your niche
Sales Geek were exceptionally quick to jump on the opportunities that COVID-19 presented them with. As a sales training organisation, they were quick to realise that it’s a particularly tough time for salespeople right now. More so than ever, they need to educate and support their network of salespeople on how to continue selling during the pandemic. This has allowed them to accrue several new clients that need a helping hand in diversifying and redirecting their efforts.
With this in mind, they launched the ‘The social selling video challenge’, and the tickets sold out within 48 hours!
Think about your course offerings, has your target market changed? Are there any courses that are more useful than others right now? Is there a new course you could be delivering?
One of our wonderful customers, BLS Training, have launched an online Coronavirus training course.
Perhaps the most fatal mistake for any business currently is to stay in a perpetual reactive state instead of forging your own path, in a direction that you control.
5) Keep communicating!
It seems so simple…how can communicating help to grow your training business?
Don Millar, CEO of StoryBrand, answered a great question from a viewer who was concerned about exploitation and the ethical concerns of increased touch points during a global pandemic. His response stuck with me:
“Messaging in a time of abundance is different than messaging in a time of crisis”
As a training organisation, it’s important to remember that you’re delivering skills that are, if anything, needed now more than ever before. It is not wrong of you to reach out, to check in and try to sell to your clients. In a time of increased social media activity, in order to rise above the crowd, it’s also not wrong to be dramatic to be heard, says Don Millar, whilst still being wary of where this oversteps into exploitation(!)
It’s also naïve to think post-COVID that you can call up a client you haven’t spoken to in months and expect to gain their business if you aren’t willing to put in the groundwork in the interim. By communicating regularly with authority and empathy, you can maintain trust and loyalty both during and post-pandemic.
Sales Geek are brilliant at this. Visit their Linkedin page and check out the extent of video content, the free tips on offer and the level of engagement they get. It’s simply impossible to forget they are there, without being too invasive.
6) Reach decision makers
If you’re a salesperson yourself, you’ll be all too familiar with the frustrating routine of trying to reach a busy prospect or client. It usually results in leaving a voicemail or passing on a message to a colleague.
Whilst working from home, there’s a much higher chance to reach your prospect than ever before. There’s a good chance that the contact number you have dials straight through to a decision makers mobile, and they’re likely to be able to give you more time than normal! Jonathan says now is also the perfect time to strengthen your partnership arrangements.
The best salespeople are using this time to have the conversations they were never able to have previously. It’s in their interests too, remember!
7) Extended reach
Unless you’re one of the few training businesses that has thousands of training centres worldwide, if you run face to face courses there’s a good chance your marketing efforts focus on clients within a certain radius from your front door.
Training businesses that have the marketing expertise are using this time to extend their efforts much more broadly, no longer constrained by geographical limitations. This means opening dialogue with prospects overseas and optimising your SEO and PPC to attract new visitors to your website.
On the webinar, Jonathan referenced an attendee of the webinar who had signed up to a virtual session from Dubai – this would never have been possible before. The immense possibilities that are available with an attentive global audience cannot be understated!
8) Training management
More so than ever before, the most reliable and long-term solution to help deliver business growth is investing in a training management system. Our recent training industry found that almost 94% of training business have been affected by COVID-19, but that 38% still had no form of training management in place.
Here at accessplanit, we’ve taken great steps to help our customers with business continuity during coronavirus, involving a number of COVID-19 specific product developments! See how First Intuition adapted quickly using accessplanit.
A cloud-based training management system that helps you to seamlessly switch between in-person and online learning means your business is much more resilient and adaptable to change. At a time when your training operations will be least impacted, there’s no better time to begin an exciting journey with accessplanit.
So there it is. Your 8-point success plan. Let us know in the comments what you feel the biggest opportunity for your training business is. I can't emphasise enough how important point number 8 is. Until you have a modern, centralised platform that your staff are confident using, it's going to severely restrict your potential success on the other 7 points above. If you're interested in learning how accessplanit can help you with this, why not book a free walkthrough?
accessplanit are running a FREE virtual event for training professionals from May 20-22. There's perhaps no better place to equip yourself with cutting-edge industry knowledge than listening to our 8 hand-picked speakers at this exciting, one-of-a-kind, free event. Come and learn more and book your place.