If you ask 100 people, “Are webinars free?” most of them will answer, “Yes!”

If you ask those same 100 people, “Is training free?” they will reply, “No!”

Then ask the $64,000 question: “What about training webinars?”

Author, speaker, and sales management strategist, Lee Salz, believes the answer to that question is a no-brainer: Attendees will pay for training webinars. After all, speakers are providing more than just information in such webinars—they are furnishing training for which they would be paid had it been done in person. Salz isn’t just presenting theory. He is the founder and CEO of Business Expert Webinars, which has grown a speaker portfolio of 150 strong with more than 750 webinars on its schedule … every one of which is delivered as an attendee-funded virtual training event.

If you are a speaker, trainer, or consultant, figuring out how to offer attendee-funded webinars (AFWs) is not a luxury. It is a critical step you MUST take RIGHT NOW or risk the loss of your business and livelihood. Why do I say that?

Let’s examine some training realities, starting with the economy— even though most of us would rather not talk about that these days. Costs are up, profits are down, and traveling for classroom-based training is a big no-no.

In fact, Training magazine’s 2009 Industry Report found that the average spending per learner fell four percent to $1,036 from 2008 to 2009. Overall, the amount of total U.S. training industry spending—including payroll and spending on external products and services—declined seven percent from $56.2 billion in 2008 to $52.2 billion in 2009. Training payroll expenditures shed nearly $1 billion to $32.9 billion as companies reduced training headcount. Not surprisingly, some 47% of the nearly 1,000 study respondents indicated their training budget decreased over the last year.

During a recent webinar, we asked participants if their organizations were planning to further cut their training budgets. The good news is that 42% said no, indicating they recognize the competitive advantage of having well-trained employees. But in some cases, there is just no way around the financial realities, as indicated by the other 58% saying they were planning to cut their training budgets.

Another training reality is the fact that companies continue to expand globally, with offices around the world, and many companies now offer employees a telecommuting option, which has allowed them to reduce costs by closing physical offices. They are demanding more work from fewer employees, which means the amount of time for education is very limited. In addition, there is an influx of Millennial employees who are very comfortable with technology and prefer to learn hands-on via computer.

In fact, in an Everything DiSC® Workplace Survey of 4,384 training participants nationwide by Inscape Publishing, Inc., the following results were found:

• 94% of respondents agreed computer-based training was convenient for them.

• 43% said they did this computer-based training outside of their normal work hours.

• 90% said the computer-based format of the training was a big time saver for them.

• 76% said the training made them more effective at their job.

• 88% said they remember what they learned in the training.

These training realities mean many organizations are looking for alternatives to physical classroom training, which, although popular with many employees, does have its drawbacks. That’s where training webinars come in. They offer employees the 1-2 punch of hands-on interactivity AND instructor-led training. And they offer employers the 1-2 punch of no investment in hardware and software AND quick, easy set-up and update functionality. Plus, employees don’t need to go anywhere to participate in the training, which means no travel costs or lost travel time.

Training magazine’s 2009 Industry Report found that 28.5% of training hours are delivered via webcast or computer-based methods, and 23% is delivered via blended learning methods. And
71% of the nearly 1,000 respondents use virtual classroom/webcasting/video broadcasting for training purposes. I expect those numbers to continue to climb, especially as the 73.5 million tech-savvy Gen-Yers continue to flood the workforce.

The first big hurdle for you to overcome is the perception that webinars are always free. They’re not! More and more, there is recognition among trainers, speakers, and consultants that they need to be able to monetize their expertise by offering AFWs. And they are doing it. Remember, there was a time not long ago where everyone watched free TV. That’s not the case today. People used to listen to the radio for free. Today, millions of people pay for satellite radio. Tap water once was good enough for everyone, but today people buy bottled water in droves. What these have in common is that there is perceived value in what is being purchased.

How does that relate to AFWs? The key is creating new, exclusive, skill-based training delivered via webinars and marketing it in a way that makes people say, “Wow! I really want to learn about this subject from this expert (and I don’t mind paying for the opportunity to do so).”
This book offers a soup-to-nuts guide for doing just that. The rest is up to you. But don’t wait too long—opportunity often doesn’t knock twice.

Author's Bio: 

Lorri Freifeld is the Editor in Chief of Training Magazine.

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