Making the leap from a bricks-and-mortar business to the digital world can be tricky for even the most experienced business owners. From compliance and security concerns to new marketing and sales challenges, moving to the digital marketplace may be the way of the future, but it's not an easy leap to make. Running a successful e-Commerce business is no easy feat. Targeting customers online, engaging shoppers with virtual customer service, and adjusting pricing to reflect the online shopping world can be a challenge - and that's just for a business selling retail products!
What if you were trying to offer a service online, like training, which previously had only been available offline? Oh, and you're building your website from scratch, too, with little to no digital marketing knowledge. Some business observers would call this a recipe for failure. Not entrepreneur Mike Bundrant!
From Offline Sales to $1 Million Online: How One Entrepreneur Made the Leap
Mike Bundrant is the founder of iNLP Center, which offers innovative NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) sales training. NLP began as a grassroots professional development movement back in the early 1970s with a simple goal: help participants master interpersonal communication and apply these strategies to personal development and professional success. Mike became certified in NLP in 1992 and has served as an NLP sales trainer and teacher since 1995. As the second wave of e-commerce exploded in the early 2000's, Mike sought a way to move his trainings online. He faced some big challenges, including whether or not NLP skills could even transfer to the online environment.
"When I first started exploring the possibility of online training, I did not even know if it would be possible to conduct NLP training in an online environment," said Bundrant, "we've found that online learning is actually more effective than classroom learning. Students learn little by little, at their own pace. And they integrate the skills in the context of their current environment. Our motto has become 'Your life is the classroom'."
Of course, it wasn't all smooth sailing. iNLP relies entirely on digital marketing to reach potential students. When Mike first got started, he was brand new to the world of online marketing. He credits the company's current success with a willingness to experiment with innovative ideas and an unfailing persistence to get the job done right. Today, iNLP is on pace to reach $1 million in annual sales and the company has several major joint partnerships on the horizon. iNLP just launched an innovative online sales training program, which helps train sales professionals to be producers and leaders in their field.
3 Tips for Online Sales Training Success
Here's how Mike made the leap, so you can, too:
1. Master digital marketing. From PPC to guest blogging, Mike says digital marketing has been crucial to expanding his sales training business and reaching new customers, without costing a fortune. PPC is increasingly a small business marketing imperative. Organic SEO is a long-term strategy that produces results months in the future; PPC delivers immediate, quantifiable results. Plus, with PPC you can scale up (or down) your marketing campaigns as needed.
2. Offer a money-back guarantee. If you buy a shirt that doesn't fit, you want to be sure you can return it, right? The same goes for a sales training course. Mike offers a 7-day money back guarantee for all of the iNLP training courses. "When new customers are considering a training course, it's natural for them to be a bit anxious about committing to a full program," says Mike. "Our money-back guarantee reassures them that if the course isn't what they expected, they can get a full refund, no strings attached. We've rarely had to issue refunds, but just the knowledge that one is possible helps to reassure people."
3. Don't go it alone. While Mike worked hard to get up to speed on digital marketing, he says that iNLP's success is truly a team effort. "Taking iNLP to the online world was a 'blue ocean strategy' that opened up a new market space and created huge market demand for our training when no demand previously had existed," says Mike. "Our current success would not have been possible without the entire team being all-in from day one."
Making the leap to the digital world from a bricks-and-mortar business is never easy, but with a team-centered approach, a willingness to experiment with different digital marketing strategies, and stellar customer service, your company will be well on the path to success.