How to Sell a Course on Facebook Without Plunging Yourself Into Debt
by Todd Parmley
Last updated July 16, 2021
You‘re making progress selling your online course, but you’ve hit a wall trying to scale course sales without spending money on paid ads. Scaling is one of the biggest challenges facing course creators, and as a result, many course creators operate based on the idea that using Facebook Ads to sell your courses is the easiest way to scale sales and bring in warmer leads.
Because of this idea, course creators are plunging themselves into a month-over-month, spiraling cash flow deficit because the math just doesn’t work. There are much more efficient and less risky ways to build a foundation on a steady flow of free leads and an automated sales funnel that successfully converts, than diving headfirst into paid ads does.
To help save you some money, we’ll cover:
- The Facebook Ad myth forcing thousands of course creators into debt
- Using Facebook Ads for course sales: why the math doesn’t work
- How to build an automated course sales machine to provide better ROI on Facebook Ads
Let’s start with the basics — are you clinging to an idea that’s holding you back?
The Facebook Ad myth forcing thousands of course creators into debt
Let’s not bury the lead, here’s the myth: Selling your course on Facebook is the best way to scale the sales of your course at a mass rate.
You’ve heard this. You knew of a fellow entrepreneur who had success using Facebook Ads and bragged about how many more leads they brought in, and you wanted a piece of the action. Then you started paying for Facebook Ads, and realized that month-over-month you’re losing money, even though more people are coming in and signing up for your program. Why is this happening?
It’s because this myth is one of the many false beliefs that are preventing course creators from getting to $1 million in course sales. Going paid can be a great way to bring in leads — especially people who otherwise wouldn’t have known about you. But if you start with Facebook Ads before you are ready, you’re almost certainly creating a month-over-month loss in accessible cash flow that will throw you into debt.
There’s another key problem with going to ads right away: If you don't already know for a fact that your marketing can effectively convert cold leads into paid customers, then you're throwing your money away on ads.
If you’ve only successfully sold to the audience you’ve already built, those aren’t cold leads. You need to be able to convert strangers with Facebook Ads, which means you need to know your sales process is capable of converting truly cold leads.
The key is to have two things in place before you start spending on ads:
- You’ve created a steady stream of free leads
- You’ve leveraged those leads to build a proven automated sales machine that reliably converts them into paying customers
Giving Facebook $1 in ad money that’s going to give you back $2 in revenue seems like an obvious strategy to utilize, but unless you already have leads coming in and you know your sales funnel works and is ready to scale, you’re going to have a deficit on your hands.
Using Facebook Ads for course sales: why the math doesn’t work
Let’s take it back to simple math to explain why relying on Facebook Ads is not the best strategy for course creators, and is almost certain to plunge you into a cash flow deficit, using an example:
Let’s say your program costs $500, and you offer a monthly payment plan of $50 over 10 months.
Your first month of using Facebook Ads, you invest $500, with the belief that only 1 person will need to convert for you to make that $500 investment worth it.
Within your first month, someone does convert, and signs up for your program. Amazing! You’ve now spent $500, and made $50 back this month. You won’t see the remaining $450 now, but in $50 increments as each month passes until the 10 months are up.
Now it’s month 2. You put in another $500, and maybe you even get 3 conversions this month. Congratulations! You’ve more than seen your ROI here, but you’ve now spent $1000, and have $200 in the bank: $150 in new sales this month, plus the $50 from the monthly payment plan from your conversion last month. Which is a deficit of $800 after the first 2 months.
How many months can you keep this up? Most course creators don’t have enough cash flow to sustain that kind of program long enough to have the monthly money coming in equaling (or ideally exceeding) the monthly money going out to paid Facebook Ads. So what can you do instead?
PRO TIP: For a full breakdown on why this math doesn’t work, make sure you sign up to attend our webinar: The False Beliefs that Stop Course Creators from Getting to $1 Million in Sales
How to build an automated course sales machine to provide better ROI on Facebook Ads
Paying for ads on social before you have your sales funnel set up, optimized, and automated will result in a loss of available cash rather than an increase in sales. If you set up your sales machine prior to paying for ads, then they will help you scale significantly. Here’s how you do it:
Want the full story? To get the full breakdown of these steps from someone who has successfully done this, make sure you register for our webinar How Haley Burkhead For to $1 Million in 16 Months by Automating Online Course Sales.
Step 1. Do a “lazy launch” for your course
Putting a lot of effort into a massive live launch is a prevalent sales tactic for many course creators, but if your own pool of organic followers — those who are paying attention to you already on social or from your email list — isn’t that large, a lot of the effort you might put into this will be wasted.
Instead, do a ‘lazy’ version of this launch where you’re putting in less of your time, and focusing more on your launch resulting in a solid recording of your sales presentation that you can turn into an automated webinar with a tool like eWebinar.
Step 2. Building an automated webinar with sales psychology in mind
When you’re selling to cold leads, it’s always harder. You aren’t just selling a course — you’re selling to a person who has never met you before, and convincing them to pay you for what you’re offering them.
When creating your automated webinar to sell to a cold lead, you need to keep sales psychology in mind. Focus on the key components of your offering that make you unique, and then explain in clear terms what a person has to benefit from enrolling in your program.
Need help with this? If so, here’s a template for creating a profitable automated webinar for course creators that has sales psychology built right in, including a 45-minute training video for how to implement this template and turn it into your own automated webinar!
Having an automated webinar is key to automating your sales machine, because trying to give enough sales pitches or host enough webinars to scale up to a million in sales isn’t possible with just one person. With an automated webinar, 1 video can become 1000 sales pitches, and it’s the best way to keep selling your course all day and night — even when you’re asleep!
Step 3. Using your Organic Pool to test your sales process
You want as many people as possible to come to your automated webinar once you have it set up on a registration page. To do this, you need to leverage all your potential pools of leads — the last of which is paid ads.
Before going to paid, you need to leverage your organic pool of leads, which are all people who already follow you on social media, use any websites or other assets you have, or who you’ve obtained through building an email list.
Use your Organic Pool as the first point of proof that your sales machine works. Once you get them to attend your webinar, if your webinar is an “easy yes” that gets people to convert, then you have an automated sales machine that works.
And even if people don’t convert, you’ve captured the lead through the registration page and can nurture them through follow up emails until they are ready to convert.
You also want to make sure you’re always working on growing your organic pool of leads through content creation. To learn more about the best tactics for that, jump into this webinar: How to promote and sell your course with organic content.
Step 4. Leveraging Partner Pools to get in front of new audiences
Partner Pools are simply other people’s organic pools. The idea is to reach out to your peers, colleagues, and others who have audiences — ideally ones similar to yours — that you can use as the target of your outreach.
Let’s say you know someone named Linda, and she has her own Organic Pool that you would love access to. Start participating in Linda's community and establish credibility. Then offer her something that helps her — like a guest appearance on your podcast or webinar series.
Once you’ve done that, you can go to Linda and ask for access to her Organic Pool, and in exchange, offer her a 30-50% commission on any conversions you make using her pool. This is a win-win for both of you, because Linda can make money without any work on her end, and you can scale your sales at a massive rate, by driving the Partner Pool leads to your automated webinar.
The key strategic component of this process is that you’re only paying money to someone if the person converts. Unlike with paid ads, you're not actually paying anything upfront. You are cutting into your profit a little when you make a sale, but the lead itself is free; you never pay unless you get a conversion, so this strategy is always cash flow positive.
Step 5. Make more money, and refine your process
Making use of Organic and Partner Pools is critical before jumping into paid ads, because it gives you enough money to pay for the ads upfront so you’re not buying ads with money you don’t have. If you attempt paid ads before you’ve built your pool up through leveraging your partners and established a solid foundation on which to scale, you’ll be spending too much on ads and it won’t be sustainable.
During this time, you can also refine your sales process. When you’re following up with those who don’t convert, or talking to those who converted easily and love you, ask questions about your sales process to determine what’s working and what isn’t. This gives you some time to optimize your webinar registration page before you start bringing in paid leads.
Once you’re hitting $10k months, you know you have a webinar that is completely capable of converting cold leads. You also have enough cash coming in that you don’t need ads, but you have the breathing room to start paying for them.
PRO TIP: Haley Burkhead was able to make $36,000 in 6 months using the Partner Pool tactic. This method allows you to make your business sustainable for the long-term, because it provides that cushion of cash that enables you to scale with other strategies like paid ads.
Step 6. (Finally!) Starting bringing in a Paid Pools of leads
Once you’ve scaled your sales to this level and have a month-over-month surplus of cash you can dedicate to other strategies, this is when you want to start pulling in a Paid Pool of leads.
Use your cash surplus to run campaigns on Facebook, Instagram, Google, or wherever you think your potential customers are most likely to see you. You can experiment with different advertisement design and campaigns, test out with a smaller spend — or do whatever you want really! Instead of diving in and spending money and creating a deficit, you now have room to experiment on paid platforms comfortably. And this stage will be the final tip of the scale that can help you scale to hit your biggest sales goals, and get to your first million in sales.
If you need help getting started, we’ve put together a profitable automated webinar template to help course creators with their sales presentations. It can help you get started with step-by-step training for building the perfect automated webinar presentation, and has a slide deck template built right in!
If you’re a course creator and you’re looking for more strategies, tips, and tools that can help you sell your course on autopilot, make sure you check out our guide to help course creators sell more automatically. And then sign up for a free trial of eWebinar today to get started.
How to Sell Online Courses on Autopilot
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