Doug Donovan is the CEO at Interplay Learning, a company building digital learning simulations for the HVAC, plumbing, electrical, solar and facilities maintenance workforce. He took inspiration from military and medical fields where trainees used simulations to mimic on the job experience, and adapted it to fit other skills taught in trade school. Recently, Doug came in to speak about his experience with B2B sales and growth - here are our takeaways:
Employers are going to become major players in education
Every organisation is putting resources towards becoming a learning company (Guild education, Amazon choice, Walmart better U) because the market is moving faster and they really need to commit to the development of their employees. Workers are finding easier mobility with companies as geographic locations start to matter less, so showing effort towards up-skilling is essential to retaining talent.
The right time to invest in a sales team
At the start, the CEO is naturally the head of sales, but on reaching a level where you have scalable and repeatable models, hiring a VP of sales makes sense. Furthermore, there is no optimal time to start putting products on the market - don’t wait to attain perfection to sell.
While customer pools will depend heavily on the product, here is some general advice from Doug: Selling to schools is hard. The growth may be inconsistent because of external factors such as grants, buying cycles, regulations, and resistance from school administration - rather treat them as a nice to have. When creating a company centric selling model, make sure your product works with other industry standard tools. For example, it is okay to have your own learning management system but ensure that your product works with other LMS’s as companies might have already invested in them.
Creating marketing content
Using bits and pieces of the actual product demonstrations and leveraging that content for marketing can be powerful. With the way SEO works, by optimising for product placement potential customers already know that you offer solutions for their pain-point.
Virtual Reality in products
Although the market is embracing the Metaverse and Virtual Reality with more acceptance it is still in its early stages. Try to have content that is accessible on 2D devices too and be cautious when making big investments in hardware because of potential volatility in market direction.
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