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I'm a programmer and I developed an ERP (invoice/accounting software). I wondering if giving training for free to my customers can be seen as an added value or they can think it is of little value (or less professional) since it is free.

I usually see companies making moneys, after the first year of free support, giving tens of hours of training at customer site (with added and exaggerated hotel and travel costs, for example) to teach all the difficulties and huge menus of their "easy-to-use" softwares.

I thought to differentiate me from competition telling my customers the training is only a few hours long and I can give them for free (included in annual support subscription). I think this can be perceived as an added value since their employees will be productive in a shorter time, with little effort and less work left in stand-by while attending the training.

How do you do usually? Should I give them expensive training as every company out there seems doing?

Thank you very much for your help.

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Of course, you can always do what you want.

Perhaps you can offer your customers 3-tiered pricing: the cheapest is just the software with a very limited number of hours of "virtual" support (i.e. email/phone calls). The mid-range pricing would include a certain number of hours of support (on-site if there is no overnight travel, etc). And the top tier would include on-site training.

You might be surprised at how many people will go for the mid-level pricing and how many will be happy to pay for the top-tier offer.

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You may find there is a reason why companies are charging so much for training.

I like Voxwoman's idea of selling the different tiered plans. Giving training is not a bad idea. In addition to clients seeing it as something of value, it can also help retain clients if they know how to use the software and feel some attachment to you because they met you (in person or by web meeting).

However.

Be VERY careful to limit your offer. 1) If you get a lot of clients, it won't be so easy to train them all, and 2) You can stumble into HIGH MAINTENANCE clients that will suck you dry.

I sell a software product I developed and I provide training. I offer tech support with my software and recently ran into such a client. This one person occupied hours of my time, for basically no money, because they support was "included." And she was so demanding I was beside myself. Sending me 2 - 3 emails a day that she needed training "RIGHT NOW" and "THIS CANNOT WAIT." She was a blessing in disguise though because now I am reviewing what I charge and how much "support" I will include for what price.

  • Thanks: very useful advice about 'high maintenance clients'. I'll review other aspects of my software agreement to be sure there are such kind of limitations. – Fil Feb 24 '15 at 15:02

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