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Sell to Corporate Clients: 3 Surprising Stats on What Big Companies Buy

Are you wondering how to sell to corporate clients your programs, online courses, coaching and consulting?

Here are some surprising stats related to how to sell to corporate clients from the 2016 Training Industry Report (the “go to” source on corporate training budgets, staffing and planned expenditures).

sell to corporate

1. They buy $8 billion in training, coaching and consulting from external vendors like you.

It’s important to note that $8 billion is already budgeted and approved for spending.

What it means to you when you want to sell to corporate clients: These dollars are waiting to be spent this year. Most budget keepers within a company have approval to buy up to their budgeted number. For example, if the decision maker is an HR director who has budget approval for $25k on communication skills training, she can approve your proposal without getting others involved. Getting budget approval can be easier than you might think.

2. They buy more training than they create in two big areas: “custom training content” and “instruction/facilitation”

Crazy fact: over 56% of the training being hosted in corporations is delivered by outside (non-employee) instructors and facilitators.
“Custom” content means content they cannot find “on the shelf” of the huge providers of generic training content.

What it means to you when you want to sell to corporate clients:  Contrary to popular belief, larger companies do not do all of their training in-house. In fact, more is hired out and purchased than created and delivered by their own employees.

3.  They buy and deliver more training that includes online than training that doesn’t.

Depending on the learning topic, the amount of training, coaching and consulting in that topic area being delivered online can range from 50% to over 80%. For example, 57% of management training and 80% of sales training being delivered in corporate has an online component to the training.

Essentially, more training is being delivered online than in a classroom or one-on-one.

What it means to you when you want to sell to corporate clients: Your target market is not limited to companies in your backyard. You can work with organizations anywhere in the world.

Small, medium and large corporations have money set aside to work with companies like yours. They are looking for solutions that directly connect to their need. They are rapidly choosing online over offline because it is more convenient and cost effective for their employees (no travel or time out of the office required).

So, where to begin?

3 Things I Learned: How to Sell to Corporate Clients, Corporations, Non-Profits, Associations and Higher Education

What I learned sell to corporate

I’ve learned three things selling millions in digital products, training, online courses, coaching and consulting to corporate customers.

#1: No matter how big, you are not selling to the company. You are selling to a person.
#2: No one is inherently interested in what you teach, market or sell. (Devastating, I know.)
#3: Everyone is interested in how you can help them get what they want.

If you want a corporate customer to choose you as their preferred partner, you simply have to connect what you do to the result the decision maker wants to deliver.
It’s much easier than you might think to stand out this way.
Most experts selling their online courses, programs and consulting don’t get this.
They try to sell WHAT they do instead of HOW they can help their client get the result they want.

What I Learned Buying Training for Corporations

In my former corporate life, I was a Chief Learning Officer of a large company. I managed a 7-figure training budget and regularly approved training purchases.

I was always being approached by potential vendors. The ones that stood out were the ones that I felt understood what I was trying to accomplish.

This begins with the simplest thing: simply imagining what the day of your potential buyer looks like. To learn how to effectively market and sell to corporations, it is helpful to imagine a day in the life of a decision maker in a larger company.

Here’s a scenario that unfolds daily in Corporate Central:

Jim Smith, seller of Whackadoo,  takes a deep breath and picks up the phone to cold-call Sharon, head of HR and keeper of the budget at Acme Widgets.
Sharon is at her desk, sipping her microwaved Cup-of-Noodles and printing a slide deck for meeting # 5 of 8 on her calendar today when she picks up the phone.
Jim cheerfully opens with,  “Hi, This is Jim Smith, District Manager for Whackadoo Training Company, the leading provider of Whackadoo training in this area.”
Instantly channeling her Obi-Wan Jedi powers, Sharon redirects the conversation with her always effective “I am not the buyer you are looking for” script.
Before Jim knows what is happening, Sharon is off the phone and slurping up the last noodle.

Jim may actually be the greatest expert in Whackadoo in the Tri-County region.
Sharon may really need some Whackadoo expertise to answer her gotta-make-my-quarterly-goals prayers, but Sharon will never know.

Contrast this with another scenario:
Sharon comes back from the lunch room with her vending machine protein bar and discovers a lumpy envelope has arrived on her desk.
She opens it right away. (Everyone loves a lumpy envelope, right?)
Inside, there is an “Art of Improv” guide and a handwritten note that simply shares, “Thinking on the fly. Going with the flow. How do you teach this? Improv is an art and a skill. I know Acme values creating amazing customer experiences — I love that about your brand! I’ll follow up with a call to see how you enjoy the guide. Enjoy, Maya”

A week later, Maya picks up the phone to dial Sharon and Sharon takes the call.

Fast forward to the end of this story: Maya, a theater director and former actor, becomes a trusted provider to Acme. For years, she leads improv workshops for their entire leadership and customer services teams to improv thinking on your feet with customers.

Plot twist: I am actually Sharon in this example. After a series of calls where Maya demonstrated that she understood what I needed to accomplish, I hired Maya.

Connecting your expertise to a result is how you get attention.

This is how to sell corporate clients.

Bonus: Training that Corporate Clients Buy

So, if you are thinking, “I’m not sure corporate sees the value in what I offer?’

As a buyer of training in a large corporation, here are some other topics I purchased:

All the standard topics like (including the % that corporate clients buy online based on the 2016 Training Industry Report) :
Compliance/regulatory: 81% delivered fully or partially online
Sales Training: 80% delivered fully or partially online
Industry Specific Training: 77% delivered fully or partially online
Executive Development (leadership, planning, finance, strategy, etc): 71% delivered fully or partially online
Customer Service: 70% delivered fully or partially online
Management/Supervisor training: 57% delivered fully or partially online
Interpersonal Skills (team building, personal awareness): 50% delivered fully or partially online
Onboarding (Culture, Wellness, HR): 46% delivered fully or partially online
IT Skills
Organization skills
Productivity
Learning Styles

And, some you might not expect:
Make-up application
Haircutting
Massage
Colonic Therapy
Chiropractic Services
Improv
NLP
Sales Presentation Design
Powerpoint Presentation
Ergonomics
Alkaline Diet and Raw Food Cooking
Shiitake Mushroom Farming
Breastfeeding for New Moms
Sleep Therapy
Ropes Course/Outdoor Adventure
Team Building Retreats
Herbal Supplementation/Chelation

And, the list goes on…

The first step in figuring out how to sell to corporate clients is to imagine the day in the life of your ideal client so you can connect what you sell to what they need.

What is your biggest question about selling to small or large corporations?

Share in the comments below, and I’ll weave them into my next blog post.

8 Comments

  1. As a former director of training/employee development, and former independent consultant of same (looking to get back in), I agree with what you’re saying, as far as it goes. Looking forward enthusiastically to what comes next… and what you’re likely going to offer to us in the way of a program.

  2. Alexa says:

    Hi Jeanine, I’m going to take your course starting in the 2nd week of July. I am so excited for this article since it really touches on our target audience. I can’t wait to get started. Reaching the decision maker(s) and conveying the value of the training will be our main strategy to get the 6-7 figure income going. I was even thinking of a webinar just geared to decision makers to educate them on why the course is necessary for their employees (The reason is very technical and actual a new law). So once they take the free webinar, they can understand the urgency and importance on training.

  3. Julia Thie says:

    Great Post!
    I got a whole lot of information from that!
    Love the stats! It makes you think…

    I’m getting ready to launch my online group training program in a month (don’t laugh -I know it took a while).
    I have been doing some great on-the-ground things in wellness in the meantime that have been very successful.

    Your influence has been so helpful to me in improving how to speak to be understood. Great to see you doing your special sauce!

  4. Thomas Petty says:

    Hi Jeanine! Great post. I tell my clients to make sure their website is optimized for the problems they solve, NOT what they do. So many people make the mistake of thinking that people can make a connection between what you do, and their problem. Nope. You have to explain to them how their #1 problem will be solved by what you do.

  5. Ilene Saidel says:

    Thanks for this wonderful post, Jeanine! It’s helping me take my “planning” up a few notches and to change my perspective. Appreciate you!

  6. Liliya says:

    Hello Jeanine,

    Thank you for this information.
    What I find to be challenging is finding leads, i.e. names and contact information of people to sell my training to within corporations. Do you have any suggestions on how to build a list of prospects?

    Thanks again for the great info!

    • Hello Liliya, Thanks for commenting. The key is to think about the type of results your training produces. Then, ask “Which role is responsible for driving this result in this company”? You can use the search function in LinkedIn to find the contact info on people who fill those roles.

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The key is to figure out the one thing you can do that will make the

BIGGEST IMPACT.

Then, do that ONE thing first.

-Jeanine Blackwell

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