How to sell product knowledge training (and why it shouldn’t always be free)

Published: 28th April 2022

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On a racecourse, some lanes are shorter than others. Called an inside track, it’s a naturally advantageous position for racers to be in: shorter means closer to the finish line.

Product knowledge is a customer’s inside track towards user satisfaction. It gives them the tools to properly sell, install, test, troubleshoot, and maintain products where others might take the longer route with self-taught information.

Such an edge creates great value for the entire chain, from the manufacturer to the end-user. Yet many companies leave this value unrecognised by giving away programmes and certifications at no charge.

If you’re one of the companies whose training catalogue still remains free, then you may be wondering why you should start charging now.

Why Should I Sell Product Knowledge Training?

Value Should Be Recognised

The largest technology companies of today are supported by a network of Authorised Service Providers (ASPs). These are entities that are qualified and certified to install and repair products, allowing manufacturers to provide expert support in regions where they have limited reach.

But what does having certified  technicians do for ASPs? 

For one, certification programmes drive foot traffic to customers, as users are more likely to entrust their items with authorised distributors, dealers and resellers. ASPs also enjoy extra  perks from certain manufacturers, such as reimbursement for parts and labour or additional promotion to support their business.

These are benefits that create real value for the customer, both in savings and profit. The knowledge that creates that value has to be acknowledged and paid for what it’s worth. 

Giving it away for free can even decrease its quality in the eyes of a customer, especially if you’re in a niche that normally charges for accreditation or certification.

Monetises Your Expertise

Beyond the value that product training creates for customers, you also have to factor in the expertise that goes into producing programmes. Knowledge about how to operate, troubleshoot, market, and sell a product is hard-earned. Years of research and testing go into every product.

Selling what you’ve learned is a way to recoup production costs. Certification and accreditation programmes also create another source of revenue for your business, by using resources that you already have.

People Are Eager To Learn And Willing To Pay

The corporate eLearning market is worth around £28 billion and is forecasted to grow by 13.14 percent until 2025. In a survey of 300 HR leaders by software platform Capterra, 49 percent have reported increasing their learning and development budget for 2022.

But are the learners themselves looking for training? Data from Pew Research says yes

According to the think tank’s study, over half of full time or part-time professionals participate in training to stay competitive.

The evidence is clear: there’s a demand for valuable training programmes. Companies and individuals have the budget for it. If you can supply the demand, then that’s another reason to sell your product knowledge training.

Creates Self-Sustaining Training Programmes

Between the manpower hours and materials that go into training programmes, the cost of development can easily go up to tens of thousands of pounds. Free programmes, while helping customers, are ultimately costs to the company. It can be difficult to build a business case for continued development and improvement of the material.

Charging for product knowledge training creates a self-funding loop. Programmes end up paying for themselves, making them more sustainable and available for future channel partners.

How Do I Sell This Training?

Now that we’ve established a case for selling product training programmes, it’s time to learn how to convince your channel partners to enrol. Obviously, the material needs to be high value. How you present that value will significantly affect how customers perceive it.

Segment Learners By Progress

Our brains are wired to respond to achievement. As the enduring popularity and effectiveness of ‘To Do’ lists can attest to, it feels good to progress through our goals, no matter how simple they may be.

You can leverage the same principle to encourage continued patronage through a tiered programme structure. Learners, after all, won’t start at the same level. Some may enter the ladder already certified for installation or repair. Others may be completely new to the product.

A tiered approach gives partners a roadmap of the coursework. Further encourage participation by adding more and more valuable rewards as customers progress. For instance, reaching the very top tier can grant access to dedicated marketing support or discounts.

Highlight Efficiency Gains

Your sales partners are businesses. And like any business, they’re concerned with any venture that increases revenue and reduces costs.

But if you’re selling your product knowledge training, that means they’re also your customers. Any good salesperson will know to appeal to their buyer’s needs and present solutions to their problems.

You can do that with your training programmes by focusing on the gains they stand to earn. Users are more likely to trust and transact with authorised resellers. For technical products, warranties often stipulate the service can only be done by licenced personnel. People are willing to pay more to work with individuals and businesses with industry credentials.

Look Into Your Target Learners’ Needs

Since you’re charging a fee for your product knowledge training, you need to identify areas that directly speak to challenges partners are facing. This is where close collaboration comes into play. 

Get to know the challenges that channel partners face. Some customers may be struggling with a lack of technical knowledge needed to troubleshoot advanced problems. Others may be finding it hard to accurately forecast demand for the products–a common problem when products have long life cycles, like hardware or machinery.

Dividing product knowledge training by subject matter helps customers pick and pay for solutions they need. A comprehensive catalogue also shows channel partners that you understand the challenges they’re facing, and are equipped and ready to help.

Continuously Promote Programmes

Learning is not a one and done effort. Technical products will continue to evolve and change. So do the market conditions in a particular region. The knowledge that may fix problems for users at present may not be enough to fix the problems of tomorrow.

And so training programmes are dynamic things, constantly being updated to reflect current builds and trends. It follows that providers should have a persistent marketing campaign that keeps programmes top-of-mind for partners.

Subscriptions are one way to sustain paid programmes and keep learners in the loop, although it can be more difficult to secure buy-in for these. You can sweeten the deal with incentives such as discounted rates for subscribers, or preferred customer benefits for their business. Another option is bundling a discounted training pass with the product.

Conclusion

Product training should be free, to a degree. Manufacturers and suppliers have to equip their channel partners with the knowledge they need to sell and service end-users. 

But knowledge doesn’t stop at knowing Unique Selling Propositions (USPs) and troubleshooting basic errors. Deeper, specialised programmes require considerable investment to put together. By charging for certain programmes, businesses can use their wealth of information to recoup costs and strengthen channel partner performance at the same time.

At Wahoo Learning, we help organisations design, implement, and monetise their product training programmes. Contact us here to get started.

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The author - lloyd smith

The author - Lloyd Smith

Lloyd is the Managing Director of Wahoo Learning. He has a passion for the learning technology industry, particularly the latest innovations and technologies.

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