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There is a strong opportunity for you to add a new revenue stream to your business or organization by selling your online courses in the business-to-business (B2B) space.

As a course creator, your site likely offers one or several courses that individuals are able to purchase directly. While marketing and selling your courses directly to consumers based on their individual needs is an effective business model, exploring B2B online course sales allows you to diversify your income and revenue streams. 

In this article, you will learn how to position your online courses and increase your sales and revenue by taking a step up the chain of command to offer bulk course sales to organizations and businesses through a third party (AKA a “middleman.”)

You will also learn the key differences between B2C and B2B sales and the steps you can take to make the buying decision easy for your potential business clients.

Adding revenue: strategies to appeal to organizations and businesses in the B2B space

First and foremost, in order to set yourself up for success with B2B online course sales you will want to ensure that you remain top of mind for potential clients. To ensure your prospects come across your offerings, it’s beneficial to put your efforts towards expanding your audience and increasing your visibility. 

To drive sales, it’s important to diversify your offers by adding courses tailored to the different needs of your B2B clients and offering purchasing seats to your course in bulk to facilitate the sales process. 

Strategies to increase your online learning revenue 

Bulk Selling: Bulk selling describes the practice of selling seats to your courses in “bulk”. By selling your courses directly to a “middleman” inside an organization or business looking to purchase your course or training in bulk for their staff or partners, you can significantly increase your revenue and the number of course sales you make with a single interaction.

Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing is a term that is used to describe the process by which you give another person, business or organization a “cut” of your profit from sales in return for marketing your products and services on your behalf. Using affiliate marketing is a great way to expand your network and increase your overall sales. 

Organic Digital Marketing: A classic, surefire way to expand your audience and continue to drive sales is to build a consistent presence and create content across platforms and channels such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Google, Bing and Pinterest. 

Public Relations Efforts: You can increase your visibility and expand your reach by being a guest on other blogs, podcasts and publications that create content for your target audience. Take some time to research who in your industry currently has the attention of your ideal customer and reach out to them to explore a potential content partnership explaining what the benefit would be for them. 

New Offers: You can also increase your revenue by adding new courses to your site to provide additional value to your existing students and attract new ones. For example, if you sell courses primarily in the B2C space, you could explore creating a course for a B2B client to expand your offerings and add a new revenue stream to your business/organization. 

Learn more: Practical B2B strategies to unlock your next level of success with online course sales

Selling to B2B clients: Working with a “Middleman” 

The term “Middleman” refers to a business owner, boss, or manager that works inside a business or organization that you are looking to sell your online courses to. As B2B online course sales often involve the purchase of seats in “bulk” to a course, there is also a higher cost associated with the purchase of your course for your client. 

As a result of the higher cost associated with B2B online course sales, the client you are looking to sell your courses to will likely want you to pitch your course to a representative at their business/organization with the power to make a purchasing decision or present your pitch to the right people on their team. 

You will want to build a strong, long-term relationship with the “middlemen” you encounter to set yourself up for success with B2B online course sales. Here are the different kinds of “middlemen” you might come across in the B2B space:

  • The JV Partner: You will likely encounter “The JV Partner” when you offer a course that is well suited to fit inside another business or organization’s offer as an “add-on”. For instance, someone in your industry or niche that is looking to purchase your course and offer it as a complimentary offer or added “bonus” to a learning bundle, certification or program they currently offer. 
  • The HR or Learning Development Leader: An individual inside a business or organization that is looking to purchase seats to your course in bulk in order to provide training for their staff. 
  • Franchisor or licensor: Franchises and licenses are a product or “business in a box” that someone can purchase and access training for in order to run a business and make a profit. In the online course space instead of creating their own program, a Franchiser or Licensor can offer and sell your course to their clients to access training that helps them run their business on your behalf – therefore, becoming the middleman. 
  • Vendor or Merchant: A vendor or merchant describes someone that sees the value in your course offerings and is interested in packaging and branding them to sell them on behalf of their own organization, business or store for a profit. 

Working with “Middlemen”: Benefits and Tips 

Bulk Selling = More Sales: One of the biggest benefits of working with Middlemen in the B2B space is that you can sell multiple licenses or “seats” to your course at one time through the process of bulk selling. This is very advantageous as you can make more course sales and significantly increase your revenue without adding a strenuous amount of work to your sales and marketing process. 

Learn more: Simplify the purchasing process for your B2B clients with the new Thinkific Bulk Sell app.  

Get clear on the “benefit” from your course to drive sales: Leverage the middleman’s understanding of their organization/business, what their potential students need, how the course can benefit them and why it would make sense for them to offer the course at this time to structure your course to fit their needs and clearly demonstrate to them that you can help them achieve their goals. 

Make it a “win-win” situation with bulk sales: To create a ‘“win-win” situation for yourself and your client, first get clear on what the benefit is to the middle man for purchasing a Bulk License to your course. Ask yourself: How is it a win situation for them? You want the middleman to be excited about your course and feel confident as they share about it and pitch it to the necessary representatives at their business/organization. 

Whether the people making the final purchasing decision are part of the finance team, learning and development department, or are their manager, you will want to ensure that the middleman can understand and clearly communicate the benefit of purchasing a bulk license to your course to others. Some benefits worth mentioning are reduced costs and an improved training process for the client, as well as a new revenue stream. 

For you, selling your courses through a middleman in the B2B space creates an advantageous situation as you can now begin spending less time selling to multiple people and start increasing your profits from a single sales interaction.

Getting started selling online courses in the B2B landscape: Identifying your middleman 

To best manage your course sales in the B2B space, take some time to conduct market research and get to know the goals, needs, wants and desires of organizations and businesses you are looking to work with. 

Then, identify the type of middleman that is most appropriate for purchasing your online courses: perhaps your middleman is a Learning Development Coordinator or a Marketing Specialist. Make sure you gain clarity on who you need to speak to in order to pitch your course before reaching out. 

Then, you will want to build a sales page to share with your middleman that specifically addresses the gap that your course fills, and explain the problem that your course solves for their business/organization. This will help you simplify the sales process and demonstrate that your course can help your client achieve their goals. 

Active Selling in the B2B space 

Prepare yourself to do active selling. Keep in mind that sales in the B2B space require more “action” as you are looking to build a relationship with your middle man over the long term. 

More times than not as you start selling in the B2B space, you will be contacting one person at a time (aka the “middleman” that is buying multiple seats to your course on behalf of an organization). Prepare yourself for a longer sales process than you are accustomed to and make an effort to build a long-term relationship with the connections you make.

You might need to join sales calls, have longer conversations with your middlemen, and do direct outreach to your potential clients beyond selling to them in webinars, challenges, social media content and using the usual marketing tactics that are often used in B2C sales.

Structuring your courses to sell to larger organizations and businesses 

Think about your favourite companies and what it must look like inside their corporate office. 

There likely exists a level of hierarchy when it comes to purchasing decisions, as well as levels of expectations for the education they want to provide their employees. Even companies and businesses with as few as 20 employees or less will want to provide quality education for their employees. 

To set yourself up for success with B2B online course sales, you will want to gain an understanding of how the business or organization you are working with would need the course content to be structured in order to best fit their business model and help them achieve their goals. 

When preparing to sell your courses to clients in the B2B landscape, it’s also good to keep in mind that purchasing your course may be a better investment for them than paying for the costs of a live training workshop or having someone create a bespoke course to fit their needs.  

Demonstrating Return on Investment 

When you look at marketing your courses directly to consumers, the focus is usually on highlighting to them the individual student journey, transformation and results in order to make a sale. 

On the other hand, when you are looking to sell your course directly to a business or organization, they will want to foresee a clear return on investment (ROI) on the course they are looking to purchase. Meaning, that they will likely want to evaluate their return of investment on your course and be able to track metrics such as course completion rates, as well as measure the amount of knowledge and results their employees and overall business/organization gained from the course. 

Keeping track of student progress

To help your potential clients see the benefits of purchasing your course, you will want to structure your course content to include quizzes, assessments and assignments to match the needs of the organization you are working with and provide consistent touch points and data that demonstrate the progress of those taking your course for your clients. 

Also, think about how the business or organization will be able to support their users as they “flow” through the course. If you are adding an extra barrier between you and the students by selling your courses through “a middleman” in the B2B space, you will want to ensure that the content leverages the needs, wants and desires of the business or organization so they can have more touch points with their students and encourage course completion. 

It’s always good to keep in mind that the person purchasing your course on behalf of the client will likely not be the one taking it. Usually, they are purchasing the course for several people or departments, and you will want to ensure that they can clearly understand the benefits, results and return on their investment that they will receive from your courses and are able to explain them to others at their business or organization. 

Learn more: Tips for creating profitable B2B online courses

Key differences: B2C versus B2B online course sales 

While in the B2C space you want to focus your marketing efforts on demonstrating the clear benefits to the individual students taking your course, in the B2B space, you want to take a step away from solely focusing on the person taking your course and sell the overall benefits of your course to the organization, middleman or third party you are looking to work with.

Here are some key considerations for selling your courses in the B2B space: 

  • You want to demonstrate how the course is going to improve things not just for the individuals taking it, but for the organization/business as a whole. 
  • You want to help the organization/business see the benefits of the cost savings they will get by bulk enrolling people in a course, instead of each of their individual employees expensing one course or training program.
  • You also want to make sure that the organization/business can see the transformation their users will receive from the course, and that you clearly outline the goals and objectives for potential students. 

B2B Course Sales @Thinkific

Learn more: Successfully transitioning from selling B2C to B2B

Summary: Increasing your online learning revenue with bulk online course sales 

By taking these steps to position your courses in the B2B space and offer larger businesses and organizations the option to purchase seats for your course in “bulk”, you can significantly increase your online learning revenue and take your business to its next level of growth. 

Remember these tips to set yourself up for success with B2B online course sales: 

Increase your revenue by selling courses at scale: Purchasers will be buying a pre-defined number of seats for your courses and therefore, the benefit for you is higher top-line revenue. Instead of focusing all of your efforts on selling one course to one person at one time, you can also diversify your income and revenue streams by selling 15, 100 or even more seats to your course at a time to a single individual.

Set yourself up for success by building a strong relationship with your “Middleman”: 

One of the key benefits of working with a “middleman” is that you are able to welcome more students into your courses. You can structure your relationship with the “middleman” at the business or organization you are working with to be active or passive depending on your needs. 

  • An “Active” middleman describes someone that would be involved in the student outcome. (This is a great case for managers and JV partners who are actually involved in making sure that people complete the course.) 
  • A “Passive” middleman would be someone who will sell or provide seats to your course, but not become involved in student progress. The benefit of having an active middleman is that you will be able to welcome more students into your courses with less oversight and pull on your time, energy and/or finances, allowing you more time and energy to focus on bringing in even more middlemen to drive further sales. 

Increase your course sales with targeted marketing: Create a sales page specifically for the different types of purchasers or “middlemen” that you are looking to work with in the B2B space and focus on clearly demonstrating why your course is the best next step for their business/organization. You want to make sure that the purchaser understands the clear benefit of the course to the business or organization in order to make your sales cycle simpler. 

Learn more: Boost your B2B sales, ease group registrations, and offer tiered pricing with the new Thinkific Bulk Sell beta app. 

Learn how to effectively scale up your business through the power of B2B sales in this free course: 

The Ultimate Guide for Thinkific Plus: Educate At Scale : Download Now