Training departments and sales and marketing department heads are unanimous in their opinion that product trainings are important. Unfortunately, many product training programs are poorly designed and executed. In this post we will look at a few design strategies for product trainings. Before we look at specific strategies for product training, let’s look at the various types of products out there. Products can either be software products or physical material products such as equipment. Products can also be non-physical products such as banking services or insurance.
For this blog, let me narrow the scope of a product to mean a physical product for which consumers’ exhibit complex buying behavior. What do I mean by that? Let me explain. Consumers demonstrate complex buying behavior when they are highly involved in a purchase and base their final buying decsion on a unique differentiating factor that makes their choice stand out from other brands. The level of consumers’ involvement is likely to be high when the product is expensive, has some element of risk attached to the purchase, is purchased infrequently, and is highly self-expressive. Typically, the consumer has much to learn about the product category. For example, a high-end gadget.
Now we come to the question of what design strategies do we use for product trainings. Here are a few popular strategies and formats.
- Hands on Sessions/ Workshops – The ideal way to quickly get a learner up to speed with a product is through hands on sessions. In fact, almost every high-end purchase by a consumer is typically followed by a live hands-on product session by the company. Think of your first experience with your home theatre or with your high-end microwave oven. Or even your mobile device. However, if you have a large workforce to train, you need to think of an alternate strategy. For instance, if you need to get your workforce trained on a piece of equipment for which you have a very limited timeframe, you can still use hands-on sessions most effectively through part of a blended training solution in which the pre-work is through eLearning.
- Comparison Tables – Another strategy is to use comparison tables to study and compare various products of a product line.
- Videos – One of the most popular strategies is to use demos or videos. They are a very powerful way to demonstrate how a given product is operated and give you a real-world taste of the product so that learners can relate to it better. The number of YouTube videos on various products testifies to the popularity of using demos and videos. They are a great way to show a customer exactly how to use your product through video.
- Customer Testimonials – are an interesting strategy that can be used in product trainings. These testimonials about certain benefits of the product can serve as powerful means of promoting the USPs of the product.
- Job Aids – As the name indicates, these could consist of any information that helps the user do his job better. We will look at the details later.
- Case-Based Learning – Case based or scenario based learning can be used to provide training about a product in context.
- Worked Out Examples – these are closely related to case-based learning and involve presenting situations with a problem and providing a worked out example. In the context of sales training, you could demo an actual sale maybe through a recording. This strategy can be used to supplement case-based learning that we just looked at earlier.
- Electronic Performance Support Systems (EPSS) – And finally, we come to EPSSs – these are ideal for training that requires access to a huge amount of information. Think of the kind of information that dealers or distributers of spare parts for automobiles need and you will see how an electronic performance support system can provide an optimal solution.
Most of the the strategies given above are generic and can be used both for classroom training and eLearning.