There are two ways to double your freelance trainer rates without scaring your customers away:
- Become an expert, an authority in your niche.
- Increase the (perceived) value you offer with your training.
Becoming an expert takes 10,000 hours of practice and involves things like speaking at seminars and writing a book or two (and making sure everyone has read it or at least heard of it through social media). This can be summarized as: getting on people’s radar. “That trainer has written five books on this topic. She must be great!”
But this is going to take a long time, what with all the book authoring. So let’s take a look at a few shortcuts based on increasing the value you offer. Here are 5 tips to double your freelance trainer rates while keeping current customers and even attracting new ones.
Cut out The Middlemen
A lot of freelance trainers acquire customers through brokers and training companies. That is, they don’t actually “own” the customer. If you’re that trainer, stop for a minute and think about the costs involved when you effectively outsource your marketing and sales. The intermediary party will always take a cut of your pay. Sure, they’re doing the sales and marketing, but you can do that too, better even!
In the words of Julia, a seasoned freelance trainer: “When I ask my clients why they choose me over training companies/brokers, the answer is always the same, that they want to deal with a trainer who knows the subjects, rather than a sales person interested in their monthly bonus.”
So, dust off your own website and start networking. Here are a few ideas which still give you a competitive advantage in sales and marketing:
- Use social media to establish your authority as an expert (blog and tweet about your important topics in your niche)
- Have a virtual assistant pick up your phone while you’re delivering a training. Too many trainers are simply completely unreachable.
- Support your training with an online training platform (which can also be used on smartphones and tablets). There aren’t many trainers using this option yet. It’s convenient for your trainees because they’ll find all you reference materials in one place.
Make Your Sales Pitch about Them (Not You)
The most important thing is to distinguish yourself from the competition. You do that by talking not about your pricing, but about your customer. Specifically, about your customer’s problem. What pain are they currently experiencing? Explain how your training can solve their problem.
For instance, if you are offering a Microsoft Office training, talk about the lost productivity and time because the staff doesn’t know there’s a search and replace function. They go through the documents manually and retype complete phrases. Or, if your training aims to increase employee retention, start by talking about the costs of high employee turnover.
The goal of discussing their problem is to get a clear picture in your customer’s mind of the value you can offer them. Once they understand that, pricing becomes a secondary issue, especially if they trust you to solve their issues.
Keep An Eye out for Trouble-shooting Opportunities
As a trainer, you’re probably good with people. You can gently get them to do what you want, you can get them to cooperate. In short, you can align employees towards a common goal – even if only for the short duration of a training. So, once you’re in, once you have established a relationship with your customer, keep an eye out for trouble. During the preparation of the training, you’re likely to meet many different people: training managers, members of staff, maybe line workers. This represents an opportunity: if you smell trouble, see if you can do something about it.
For instance, if cooperation between units of line workers does not go as smoothly – maybe there’s an element of competition taken a little too far – then propose a solution. Even if a training is not the appropriate answer (i.e. you’re not a part of the solution), you’ll still be seen as the one who came up with the solution: you’re adding value!
Put Yourself in The Shoes of The Business Owner
Every hour an employee spends in training, is a lost hour of productivity. Sure, the training will make up for it eventually by increasing the skills and capabilities of the employees – hopefully leading to a corresponding increase of productivity. But what about offering a little flexibility? For instance, you might propose to deliver the training during the weekend. Or you might put part of the training online, for instance the theoretical part. That would allow employees to take that part of the training during off hours.
Even if there are objections (“the union will never agree with that”), it shows you’re thinking of the interests of your customer. It sets you apart as a trainer who thinks about the bottom line.
Advanced Tip: Productize Your Business
Turn your training into a product that can be sold separately. You can do that by writing a (work)book, for instance, but that takes a lot of time. An easier way is to shoot a few movies with your smartphone and turn these into an online course using udemy.com or your own online training platform (which is better for branding and makes it far easier to gather valuable customer data).
And by the way, putting out products (workbooks, training videos, courses) also increases your brand and perceived value: “This guy has created all these training materials, he probably knows what he’s talking about”.
To summarize, you charge twice your current freelance rate by increasing your (perceived) value, cutting out the middlemen, and putting yourself in the shoes of the business owner to come up with better advice. You can monetize your experience and reputation as an expert by productizing your service.
Let’s get to work, build that value!
5 Steps to Attract More Customers with Your LMS / Online Training Platform