When it comes to generating revenue and winning new business, a well-trained sales team is worth its weight in gold. But your salespeople aren’t the only ones who can boost sales with the right training. There’s another large, revenue-building treasure just waiting to be mined—your customers.
With the right client training, your customers could be one of your company’s most valuable assets.
But what is client training? Why does it matter? And how should you approach it? All good questions. Let’s take them one by one.
What is client training?
In the world of eLearning, client training is often referred to as the extended enterprise. What’s the extended enterprise? Well, simply put, it’s training that’s directed towards people outside your organization. So, rather than training your employees, this is training that’s aimed at external stakeholders. For example, your customers.
Another distinction that needs to be made early on, is the difference between client training and client onboarding. And the big differential here is time.
Onboarding is a one-off investment, which takes place at the beginning of your relationship with a customer. Its goal is to get customers familiar with your products or services. And, once it’s done, its mission is complete.
Client training, on the other hand, is a continuous investment. And the benefits it brings go beyond more than just introducing customers to your product.
The 10 sales-boosting benefits of client training
Whether it’s to upsell, start a conversation around industry topics, or grow your customer experience, there are lots of reasons why investing in client training can grow sales. Some of them have a direct impact on profits. Others will have a more indirect influence. Either way, they can both be measured and linked to sales data.
Let’s take a look at the 10 main benefits:
1. Grow your value proposition
The more your customers get out of your product or service the more valuable it becomes to them. But sometimes it takes a while for customers to pinpoint exactly where the biggest value is for them. And, often, they can stumble upon this by accident rather than design.
Client training formalizes this process and gets them to that “eureka!” moment of clarity quicker. Once you’ve got them to this point, they’re more likely to stay with you when their contract’s up for renewal.
2. Create independent brand ambassadors
Providing good customer training is linked with increased customer satisfaction. And a satisfied customer usually leads to continued revenue. But they can also help channel other new prospects in your direction.
Embodied in metrics such as the Net Promoter Score, higher levels of customer satisfaction make it more likely that your clients will start doing some of your marketing for you by recommending or promoting your business and your brand to others. And it’s independent recommendations like these that stand a good chance of turning into new sales leads.
3. Nurture long-term users
Keeping hold of existing customers is easier and less expensive than winning new ones. Incorporating customer training into your relationship with clients boosts their engagement, reduces and resolves frustrations and frictions, and encourages attachment.
This leads to better customer retention and product stickiness.
4. Drive upselling
Customer education raises the chances of upselling or cross-selling both directly and indirectly.
- General training around your product builds confidence. And customers who are confident using your product or service are more likely to explore new features or functions.
- Specific training around additional products and services allows you to target and address customers’ unique pain points. This way, you show your customers you can offer the solution they’re looking for.
Nail both of these types of training and your profits stand a good chance of growing from people who’ll want to try out additional features and services.
5. Stand out from your competitors
Demonstrating an ongoing commitment to customer education through a well-considered customer training program sets you apart from other businesses. It sends out a powerful message that you care about your users.
And that you want to maximize their experience of your product or service, rather than simply troubleshooting problems or issues when they crop up. In a competitive market, this advantage could well lead to a client choosing you over someone else.
6. Gather actionable feedback
The more you know about how customers use your product or service, the better you can make it. A customer training program can be a rich source of information about how your clients interact with your offering and what matters most to them.
Perhaps there’s one module, in particular, that’s getting more (possibly too much) traction. Or, one that’s not getting any interest at all. Both of these scenarios are worth investigating. Is there something that needs more work to make it easier to use? Or, is there a feature or function that simply needs better promotion?
Using insights from your customer training, you can make changes where needed to elevate your offering. The result? A better product and a better chance of increased sales.
7. Build meaningful relationships
We’ve talked a lot about product-specific customer training. And giving clients practical support and guidance supports growth in sales for all of the reasons already mentioned. But it’s not the only type of customer training that can do that.
Expanding your customer education program to start a conversation around broader, industry-related topics helps form strong and meaningful relationships. Based on exploring a common interest, rather than a product-focused “Show me how to do this” or “Show me how to get that” approach, it removes the “customer vs provider” barrier from the interaction.
This softer, less sales-centric approach to client training builds trust and fosters a partnership approach. All of which increase the chances of getting some loyal and returning customers.
8. Establish credibility and confidence
As well as forming good relationships, widening your customer education program to include industry insights also establishes credibility. It demonstrates an active interest in developments and innovations.
And it shows your customers that you’re future-focused and one step ahead of the game. This reflects back to your product or service, building confidence and boosting sales.
9. Support better buying decisions
A buyer who doesn’t really know what they’ve bought into is more likely to become disgruntled and dissatisfied. So, when you’re upselling or cross-selling, the more your customer knows about their purchase the less likely they are to complain later or look elsewhere.
Supporting better buying decisions through customer training also makes movement through the sales cycle faster, with less time spent at the consideration stage.
10. Relieve pressure on support teams
Customers will always have questions. But client training results in fewer questions for your support teams. True, this doesn’t sync up directly with a growth in sales. But it does help to reduce pressure and support costs, which could help to free up resources in other areas (for example sales).
Less pressure on your support teams usually means higher levels of customer satisfaction, which also counts as a competitive advantage and drives revenue.
How to build a client training program
With the right resources and approach, designing and delivering an effective client training program shouldn’t be complicated. Here are a few things to bear in mind when deciding how to train your customers:
Put your learning online
Chances are your customers are dotted around the world. In which case the only really effective method for delivering client training is an online solution. Simply uploading videos to YouTube is an option. But it’s a generic and impersonal approach. And it doesn’t allow control of access.
If you’ve got a learning management system (LMS) that you’re using for your employee training program, you’re in luck. An LMS also makes the perfect customer training platform for the following reasons:
- Customers can log in wherever there are and whenever they want.
- Designed with learning in mind, it’s easy and intuitive for customers to use.
- Adding or updating course content (whether it’s videos, presentations, tests, quizzes, or games) is straightforward.
- You can customize it to reflect your company brand.
- It provides transparency so you can monitor where your customers are with their training.
- It’s rich in data which, in conjunction with your sales CRM, can be used to calculate ROI in the following areas: customer retention rate, upgrades, and support tickets.
- Unlike sending a manual or sharing a video, an LMS will allow you to host webinars and interact with customers in real-time.
Target your customers’ pain points
Use existing data and insights around your customer journey and behavior to determine where the weak points in your product or service might be. And then create courses that focus on these key areas.
You should also make sure your training covers realistic scenarios and provides practical tips.
For example, you can design your courses by answering questions like:
- What are the most common queries your customer support team gets? Instead of having to answer the same things over and over again, you can educate all your customers at once.
- What challenges do people in this industry usually face? Create content that shows how your product solves those issues.
- What are some best practices when it comes to using your product or services? Feature your “star” customers and show how they’ve found success using your offerings.
Don’t throw everything you’ve got into your customer training program at the very start. Concentrate on a few key areas and then take time to evaluate.
What’s working well? What’s not getting such a good response? Gather as much feedback and data as you can and then adapt and evolve your approach accordingly.
Once you’ve experimented a little bit with client training, it’s time to think about what more you can do to engage your customers. For example, you can create a series of workshops on a broader topic.
Or, you can build online courses that educate customers on industry-related topics and provide certificates by the end of the program as an extra reward. You might also want to send a sequence of emails with quick product tips, for example on a bi-weekly or monthly basis.
The key, in all these cases, is to maintain a long-term relationship, rather than host a one-off webinar.
Time to train
A mindset of continuous training, whether it’s for employees, partners, or customers, requires scalable solutions. Think of how you can store training material for future use, how you can re-purpose content, and how you can follow up with learners.
For example, questions that came up during a webinar could easily turn into a blog post or video that you can share with attendees. Or, if you find a common theme among these questions, you can build an online course and deliver it through your LMS.
With the right customer training software, your client training program is only limited by your approach. How and what you include is in your hands. So don’t be afraid to get creative—your customers and your sales team will thank you for it.