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The definitive list of customer education revenue streams

Written by Bill Cushard

Published on December 4, 2019

Every entrepreneurial CEO, including the one who founded your company, looks at revenue streams as vital to future growth. Therefore, your CEO is constantly thinking about how to grow existing revenue streams, add new revenue stream, and diversify revenue streams across numerous product, customer segments, services, and customer needs. More specifically, your CEO is thinking about offering more products, professional services, and premium support. Your opportunity is that your CEO may not be thinking about customer education as a revenue stream. Certainly not as multiple revenue streams.

That’s your job.

This blog will help you understand the numerous revenue stream opportunities that any customer education team can develop.

Here are 16 customer education revenue streams you can add to your company.

Public, virtual instructor-led training (vILT) courses

This is the live training you can deliver via Zoom, Webex, GoToTraining, or BlueJeans. This method of training is also the quickest and easiest to pull off. Many of you are already doing this for free in your 1:1 meetings with your customers. You just don’t call it training. Your customers derive value from it, and if you redesign what you are already doing into a standardized, repeatable training session, customers will buy it. And you can charge between $99 and $3,000 per person for courses like these depending on the length, topics, target audience, and purpose of the course.

Public, instructor-led training (ILT) courses

The difference between public ILT and public vILT is location. In this example, you run training courses at a physical location, like a hotel ballroom or even at your own office. You can rent space in cities near where you have large concentrations of customers and/or potential customers and invite them to sign up. You can charge between $299 and $3,000 per person for courses like these depending on the length, topics, target audience, and purpose of the course.

Private, vILT training courses

You can take your public vILT process and offer it as private training to customers. There are two reasons to do this. First, you can charge more because it is privately scheduled only for one customer’s team. Second, the customer gets to choose the time when the training happens. For private, vILT, you can charge several thousand dollars per course. And you can choose to allow the customer to send as many people as they want to the course (since it is virtual) OR you can limit the number of participants to 10 or 20 or 30. Whatever you think makes sense.

If you have a customer with a large number of employees that need training, you can offer two services: 1) Sell a specific number of training sessions and limit each session to, let’s say 15 people; and 2) set up a training-schedule-as-a-service and offer a continue schedule of live class specifically for that one customers, and let their employees register for which ever classes work for them.

Private onsite training

Some customers will want you to come to them. Great. You can just take what you're already doing with your other live training, schedule it privately, and show up at your customer’s office. You can charge more for onsite training, which could be the equivalent of $6,000 to $15,000 per day. Many of your enterprise customers will see a high value in your onsite presence and will think nothing of paying these rates for you to be there onsite for three days. For your customer’s point of view, they don’t look at it as $15,000 per training session. They look at it as $500 per employee for a team of 30 people.

Custom training

Some of your customers will want custom training. They will think they are special. Maybe they really are. After all, their implementation of your software is unique. Maybe it is. They will say, “If we have you come train us, we want you to train us on our instance and on the way we set it up.” It takes a lot of work to customize training content. So, you should charge customers for that. You can charge them an hourly rate of $200 to $500 per hour to do it. If you combine this offering with the private onsite training, you can increase the deal size noticeably, while providing customers the value they expect. It’s a win-win.

Day one user conference workshops

If you implement any combination of the course offerings above, it will not be hard for you to run similar versions of that training at your company’s user conference. There are two reasons to add day one workshops to your user conference. First, you can charge several hundred dollars per attendee. Usually some percentage of the conference price. Second, workshops and training at conferences (especially certifications) give customers and prospects a very good reason to justify to their bosses why they should attend your conference. So, pre-conference training can also drive conference ticket sales. Your marketing team will love you. One of our customers told us that 90% of their conference training attendees also registered for the full conference.

Marketing roadshow workshops

This might be the most overlooked way to earn a revenue stream on customer training. Your marketing team might already do a roadshow during which they tour around major cities and run events with speakers and food and a happy hour afterwards. Most of the time these events are free because the marketing team wants to bring people in who will become leads. You can added value by offering paid training as part of these events. Look at it as a mini version of your pre-conference workshops. You might charge a fee slightly less than your pre-conference workshop if the event is smaller and the training is scaled down to fit a smaller time constraint. If you bring in 30 people, each paying $99 or $199, you will earn $3,000 to $6,000 per event, in addition to generating leads for the marketing team.

On-demand training courses

Most of us think of on-demand training (or eLearning) as something that should be free. It often is. But not always. Plenty of companies sell eLearning, especially if it is designed well and teaches customers valuable skills. You could price eLearning as high as $100 to $500 person course, depending on the length, topic, audience, and ultimate purpose of the training. You can still have both free and paid eLearning. Just make sure there is an obvious difference between what is free and what is paid, so customers can choose wisely and they get what they pay for.

Individual subscription to on-demand training

If you have multiple on-demand courses, you can create a library and sell access to that library on a yearly subscription. It is the subscription economy after all. You can charge anywhere from less than $100 per customer per year to several thousand dollars depending on the number of courses in your library, how committed you are to keeping the content up-to-date, and the frequency at which you add new content. You need to give subscribers a reason to renew.

Company-wide (your customer) subscription to on-demand training

This is not an individual employee customer buying a subscription, but your customer buying a company-wide subscription to your on-demand training library, so that all employees have access for a year. You can charge more for this of course. And you can tier it by number of employees, just like your software tiers, for example. Again, if you are going to sell a subscription to on-demand training, you need to be committed to keeping the content up-to-date and adding new content. The main reason your customer buys a company wide subscription is so their employees, who turnover, will always have access to training on your software. It’s about training on new features as they come out continuously and about training new employees are they are hired by your customer.

Individual subscription to on-demand AND live training

In this offering, you sell a subscription to all of your training, including live training. An individual customer gets access to your eLearning, live training, and certifications. Everything.

Company-wide subscription to on-demand AND live training

Your customer buys this to provide access to all of your your eLearning, live training, and certifications for all employees who use your software.

Certification exams

You can sell certification exams as a separate offering, and customers will pay. These can fetch anywhere from $100 to several hundred dollars, depending on how rigorous and high stakes of a testing process you have.

Learning pathways

Marley Wagner from ESG will tell you this offering is about bundling. When you get to a place at which you have numerous training courses across multiple products, user roles, and topics, you can bundle them together in logical learning paths and sell multiple courses at once. The best way to do this is by role. Create a learning pathway for each role. The Developer Learning Pathway. The Administrator Learning Pathway. The Manager Learning Pathway. The End User Learning Pathway. You can do this with eLearning or live training. You price it by adding up your current price of each course you put in the learning pathway and then discounting it by some reasonable factor that makes sense for you and the customer.

Training credits

There are three great things about training credits. First, your customer doesn’t need to decided what training they need right now. They know they will need training, but they don’t necessarily know who will need it, when they will need it, or what they will need. Not yet. So, if they can buy training credits, they can secure the budget now, build it into the purchase budget of the software all at once, and can buy today the ability to get training, but figure out the details tomorrow.

Second, training credits gives your sales team one SKU to sell. Let’s make our sales teams’ lives easier and not make them learn all the details of what courses to sell to what customers and when. Just have them sell training credits. Your sales team will love you.

Third, you can sell training credits with volume discounts so customers get a value for committing upfront to buying training. $20,000 of training credits might get a customer $30,000 worth of training. Not bad. For your customer. And for you.

License your content

Pam Micznik, a customer education and learning design consultant, says that you might have customers who want to use your content, but put in on their own learning management system. They want your content, and they want to track their employee activity on their own learning infrastructure. This opens the door for licensing that content on a per user basis. You can license both your ILT content and your eLearning content. For eLearning content, it will probably need to be developed in SCORM, a standardized eLearning protocol that will work in most learning management systems. Pricing models will usually be tiered per person.

Putting it all together

You don’t need all of these revenue streams, but you should have several. And, over time, you can build into most of them. If you even come close to doing that, your revenue streams might look like this:

One private onsite training every other month $15,000 x 6 = $90,000
Two private vILTs per month $3,000 x 24 = $72,000
One weekly vILT with an average of 9 attendees paying $199 each 52 x 9 x $199 = $93,132
Pre-conference training and 100 people attend paying $299 each 100 x $299 = $29,990
Training credits of $10,000 to 11 enterprise customers 11 x $10,000 = $110,000
Revenue streams 5
Total Revenue $395,122

The above model is an example of how your might offer training to customers using reasonable numbers. You might do the above for just one product. What if you company sells more than more product. You could do that above multiple times, one for each product.

Well, when you put it that way, I’m gonna walk into my CEO’s office today.

This blog gives you the definitive list of revenue streams you can earn in your customer education business. This will also help you build a better business case for customer education because you have numbers to back you up. Now all you have to do it design a plan, get it approved, and go execute it. Easier said than done, I know.

Originally published Dec 4, 2019 5:53:26 PM, updated Jul 21, 2021