In his milestone 2005 paper, Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, George Siemens expands on the theory of “connectivism” as it relates to learning and knowledge management. While much of the attention from this paper has focused on the importance of networks as a theory of learning, perhaps an equally important takeaway is the importance of context.
When it comes to delivering learning, context is everything. Why? Because what’s relevant in one scenario may not be relevant under a different set of circumstances.
External Learners Are Different
Unlike your internal learners, your external learners – whether they are direct revenue customers, partners, distributors, or revenue adjacent customers – operate in a different context than your internal learners. For instance, external learners are typically not required to take your learning offerings. They need to be enticed; they need to be marketed to.
In an external learning situation, you typically won’t be able to directly assign learning to them. Perhaps somebody else (like your immediate purchaser!) can assign training, but not you, as you still have to do the persuading. You have to convince them that the learning or training you’re offering will benefit them in some way, shape or form.
Not only do you have to convince somebody to take the training, you probably have to convince them to actually PAY money to purchase the course. To make matters worse, there are probably other entities, AKA competitors, who are also trying to convince your learners to purchase learning FROM THEM instead of you. What you’re dealing with here is a marketing and sales situation. Clearly, the context of engaging with external learners is different than with internal learners.
Focus on Repeat Customers and Make their Purchasing Easier
Research shows it is six times more effort to sell to a new prospect versus an existing customer, and repeat customers spend 33% more than net new clients.¹ So it’s easy to conclude that you should be paying attention to the needs of your current clients. The commercial learning business is no different.
A smooth ecommerce experience is important when selling learning courses. How many times have you tried to purchase something online and given up because of complicated workflows?
We took all of this into consideration when we released the newest version of our learning management system, which makes it easier for your existing customers to repurchase learning they’ve already consumed. Our new features also make it easier for learners to purchase content in bulk and then easily distribute that content to their partners and colleagues. Additionally, our streamlined checkout and a simplified shopping cart offers a shopping experience that is as intuitive as what you expect from a consumer website. Our simplified discount codes will allow you to easily offer coupons and incentives to entice your customers to take the plunge.
Activate the Network
If elevating your customers into repeat customers is a critical step to building a successful commercial learning business, the “holy grail” is when repeat customers become mass purchasers and distributors, thus creating new learners and potential new primary purchasers. Of course, to benefit from these “network effects,” you need to make it easier for your buyers to champion what you’re offering. Encourage them to understand the context of their partners and colleagues and have context-specific interactions.
Our new release enhanced our access key features to provides an integrated purchase management and distribution experience, so your customers can bulk purchase and distribute your learning with ease. Moreover, you and your customers can now track all commercial sales from purchase through the distribution chain to final consumption. With an unprecedented level of visibility throughout the entire learning distribution network, your customers can see the status and ownership of all purchased learning, thus providing the opportunity to activate and nurture their networks like never before.
Companies that extend learning to customers achieve a significantly higher year-over-year increase in revenue per FTE than those that do not.²
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¹“50 Facts About Customer Experience,” Return on Behavior Magazine, 2011
²“Customers and Learning: Extending the Boundaries,” Aberdeen Group, 2013