Top Buyer Objections to Starting an Online Course

You want to increase sales on your online course, but something’s holding your learners back.

We’ve all had a moment when presenting a proposal to someone where we realize they’re less enthusiastic about the idea than we’d like them to be. Maybe we’ve experienced this with a friend, a co-worker, a significant other, or an employer, but that moment of “yes, but…” can be both terrifying and discouraging.

In online sales, we refer to these concerns as “buyer objections,” and they can include anything that might prevent a learner from singing up to your course. “It’s too expensive,” “it’s not professional,” and “I don’t have the time” are all key buyer objections, and hearing them can be a real setback.

However, buyer objections aren’t inherently bad. Instead, they’re an opportunity for you to present your course in its best light, to challenge some of the worst misconceptions a learner might have, and truly make the case for your online program.

As they say, the best defense is a good offense. To present your case in the strongest light, it pays to know what objects you’re likely to be facing. Here are some of the top buyer objections you’re likely to encounter as an online instructor, and how you can counter them.

They don’t see the value.

This comes down to straight numbers for many people. They may be interested in your course, but they haven’t compared it to other options on the market—or they may have done so and aren’t sure why yours costs more. Or maybe they haven’t calculated the potential earnings they gain from your online course.

Either way, if you encounter this buyer objection, your best course of action is to clarify your value proposition. Maybe your course costs more than the competition because you offer more personal feedback, or you cover more material. And the reason your course costs so much is that it has the potential to raise a learner’s salary by thousands of dollars over the course of the year.

It may take some investigation to get to the root concern, but by making your case, you can win over the most hesitant learner.

They worry it won’t transfer or hold professional value.

When they first appeared on the scene, many online courses suffered from a lack of recognized credibility within certain fields. However, as more learners have achieved certification and shown themselves to be qualified workers, many of these concerns have faded.

Of course, if you have learners who want your course to transfer to a specific work field or institution, discussing this in advance and ensuring their work will be accepted is an important step toward removing this objection.

They think they’ll never finish.

Course completion is a significant concern among many learners, and designing a course with a strong completion rate is not easy. Because of this, it’s not enough to tell your learners that completing the course is their sole responsibility. In part it is, but when students fail to finish your course, it’s also a reflection of your teaching skills.

Surprisingly, deadlines help. Students who have to finish assignments by a set date are more likely to get the work done. Creating community and using automated email follow-ups to check in with struggling students can also boost your completion rate. Respond to this objection by describing your support system, and you can set aside a lot of concerns.

They aren’t “computer people.”

Technology is becoming more user-friendly by the day, and online courses are no exception. These days, many of the course-making tools are designed to promote usability among the less technologically literate, and when the design goes as far as it can, you have plenty of room to create a usable course.

That said, it is smart to take a deep dive into usability to help ensure your learners have the best possible experience. The more you can anticipate difficulties, the more streamlined their course will be, and you can use their testimony to support your case as a user-friendly course, even for those who don’t consider themselves to be “tech savvy.”

They want person-to-person interaction.

Isolation and loneliness are real concerns for online students. Without the traditional classroom environment, many feel at sea. They long for friends to talk about the assignment with, or even just a personal connection to the teacher so that they know someone’s noticed when they haven’t logged in to the system in a few days.

You can address this buyer objection by creating explicit ways to support personal connection on your course. From class forums to group projects to personal Skype tutoring, there are any number of ways you can create more personal interaction and lay this objection to rest.

At the end of the day, they may not be your ideal customer.

You can’t please everybody. When all’s said and done, if someone wants to sit in a classroom and take notes, you probably aren’t going to win them over. They have a method of learning things that they’re comfortable with, and that’s OK.

Instead of focusing on these prospects, put your energy where it’s most likely to work to your benefit: with learners who value your course, are committed to seeing it through to the end, and believe in the online learning experience.

Online education is still a new field, and it will be hard to win some people over. You can silence a lot of buyer objections by designing a course in a certain way, but you should also learn when to cut your losses. You will have more success playing to the audience of your loyal fans than by chasing after reluctant prospects.

Author

Laura is a marketing specialist with experience presenting at WordPress events in Ann Arbor and Vienna. She speaks Russian and German and holds a double MA (Hons) in History and Russian Studies from the University of Edinburgh.

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