According to, companies spend most of their training dollars (56%) on external audiences, not employees. External audiences are sometimes referred to as the “extended enterprise.” However, this is not a commonly known term, even in the eLearning industry. So what types of trainees are part of the extended enterprise? We call them the Four C’s – read on to learn more!


The first “C” stands for Customers. Customer training is an increasingly critical part of customer success. It is commonly offered in three ways:

  • During the pre-sales process for industry enablement, content marketing, and lead generation
  • As part of a customer implementation and onboarding process
  • For long-term customer success, continuing education, and refreshers

For an overview of how training can be applied throughout the customer lifecycle, download our free eBook: The Guide to Customer Lifecycle Training.

Channel Partners

The second “C” stands for Channel Partners. Channel partners help distribute your products and services to your end users. Examples include:

  • Authorized distributors, dealers, and resellers
  • Implementation consultants and integrators
  • Retail store associates
  • International distribution partners

Providing your channel partners with training about your product features and value proposition will result in higher downstream sales. These resources can be offered for free or charged for, resulting in a new source of revenue for your organization. Certifying your channel is particularly beneficial in technical industries where your end users need to trust third parties for implementation success.

Community Members

The third “C” stands for Community Members. Many companies invest resources in creating vibrant and social communities around topics related to their products and services. Examples include recipe sites where members post photos and reviews, professional associations in many licensed industries, and highly technical interest groups.

Offering conferences, workshops, webinars, and online courses is a common way for organizations to provide valuable education services to their community members. This is a great way to increase member engagement  and provide industry thought leadership.


The final “C” stands for Contractors. Although contractors are not employees, they are still critical to a company’s business operations. Examples of contractors include vendors, suppliers, temporary staff, outsourced call centers, and the sharing economy workforce. Providing training to your contractors helps ensure that your extended team is fully aware of your expectations around safety, quality, product knowledge, culture, and more.


Companies spend the majority of their training dollars on educating their extended enterprise. The four “C’s” that make up the extended enterprise are Customers, Channel Partners, Community Members, and Contractors. For many organizations, each of these audiences are potentially as critical to long-term success as their own employees. Providing training to the extended enterprise is more important than ever!