One of the most important groups within any organization is sales professionals. Because the success of your organization ultimately depends on the success of the sales team. Knowing the product and being able to describe its benefits and value to customers is a critical capability for any sales force. Without a firm grasp of your product, your salespeople will not be able to guide or influence the buying decisions of your customers.
With the stated goal of sales being to drive sales revenues, a well designed product training program can help your sales force bring your products to life and help the prospective customer see what solutions your product offers to meet them at their point of need. Your customers expect your sales people to be experts. They themselves are pretty well-informed and savvy enough to know when a sales person is not knowledgeable about the product. Through timely and effective product training for your sales force, you can ensure that your customers are not disappointed and that you are ahead of the curve in beating your competition.
Typical goals for product trainings for sales people are usually the following:
- To train salespeople on general knowledge of products and their features
- To ensure salespeople receive comprehensive, consistent and professional training
- To ensure that salespeople avoid blunders caused by ignorance or wrong application of information
And typically, product trainings cover the following:
- Features of the product
- Installation and configuration or operation of the product
- Unique selling points of the product
However, in many cases, when you gather feedback from the sales team on a product training they have attended, their responses are invariably disappointing. Most feel that the training barely touched the surface of what they need to know. One of the reasons for these kinds of trainings being ineffective is that most of the training materials have probably been blindly re-hashed from materials used by the product management group, based on inputs from the product developers. This approach results in a feature-by-feature product training that doesn’t really address the needs of the salespeople from the perspective of sales.
So how do we make our product training for sales people relevant, and ensure it covers what is most important to them?
Here are some tips for delivering effective and result-oriented product trainings for your sales teams:
- Do cover product features and product USPs, but try not to teach a product in isolation, rather, provide a context for the learning.
- In addition to what is typically covered through product trainings, also ensure you address the following:
- The overall place of the product in the enterprise-wide process
- A comprehensive conceptual background required to deploy the product
- Positioning the product to show how customers will benefit from the product
In fact, one of the main goals of product training for sales people should be to train salespeople on how to translate product features into benefits for customers. This is the difference between training your sales people to sell products as opposed to training them to sell solutions. The result of such an approach is that at the end of the training, salespeople know how to sell a solution and not just features of the product.