Keeping the sales force up to date on both existing and new product information is a big challenge. This problem aggravates when the training – that is meant to offer relevant information and assist salespeople to perform well in their jobs – fails to do its job, and this can be due to a number of reasons. One of the biggest reasons, however, is the lack of engagement in the training.
Product training can be a disappointment when it does not engage and keep learners hooked. The good news is that online learning promises to be a viable solution to this product training nightmare. When the right strategies are put in place, online learning has a lot to offer for product training implementation. In this post, we will see the seven drivers of learner engagement you should be using for product training.
1. Put Learning into Practice with Role Plays and Scenarios
The more learners practice dealing with challenging customer types, the more equipped they will be when they do interact with that type of client. This is where role plays and scenarios play a crucial part in training. Role plays, scenarios are simulated, realistic representations of activities that ask the learner (sales rep) to make a series of decisions. These activities are based on the real-world situations sales reps commonly face at work, and what mistakes they commonly make in them.
A big benefit of using role play for product training is that it allows for a risk-free environment in which the learner can afford to make mistakes and learn, without causing any harm to the organization.
These simulated real-world situations are extremely useful for helping learners demonstrate and use their product knowledge just like they would in real life. A role play between a (simulated) salesperson and a prospect has the potential to train the sales rep on how to:
- Properly interact with a challenging prospect
- Effectively introduce and steer a sales pitch
- Access just-in-time information, right before meeting a prospect
- Carefully handle a customer’s objection to a certain product
2. Reward the Learning Progress Using Gamification
One way of increasing learner engagement in product training is to employ gamification to keep the learners engaged by rewarding them for completing or doing well in their training exercises. Gamified training modules and assessments in training induce a competitive spirit among learners, helping them complete courses quickly.
Each topic in the product training course can be a level which the learners have to progress through, earning points and other rewards along the way. They get to earn badges, get featured on leaderboards, and can track their own progress throughout the training.
For example, invite learners to enter a simulated environment of the field where they are expected to visit different client locations to meet potential customers, at the same time interact and solve their objections. All this must be combined with providing them with critical feedback on the dos and don’ts of the trade, and also rewarding them (badges, points) for completing the tasks.
3. Offer Small Nuggets for Easy Consumption
Training that is lengthy and cumbersome barely engages learners, let alone helping them learn the necessary skills. Besides, it is common knowledge that salespeople have tight deadlines to achieve their sales targets, which means hour-long training courses cannot fit in. This can turn out to be harmful to the company because salespeople must be trained regularly to build effective training skills.
Therefore, to accommodate their work style, small nuggets of information need to be created. This process is called microlearning, and it is apt for learners who are constantly “on the move”. Short, bite-sized modules apart from engaging the learner, bring benefits to the organization as well. They are easier to update as opposed to a 1-hour eLearning course. If there is a change in a product, organizations can easily update the microlearning course to save both time and money.
4. Schedule Simple Practice Activities at Regular Intervals
When it comes to product training, organizations must ensure they assess the learners on their product knowledge from time to time. For example, conduct an online learning assessment to measure their training knowledge directly after they complete an online module, then another in a few weeks’ time to ensure they are still knowledgeable about the product’s specifications. Instead of a traditional multiple-choice assessment, you can embed scenario-based assessments that center on selling the product, then analyze the results to see if they may need additional online training.
5. Include Easy-to-Download Product Videos for JIT learning
Product demo videos are a really effective tool to give learners a better view of a product and help them answer queries the prospect might have. The 2- to 5-minute product videos come in handy especially for just-in-time (JIT) learning that educates the learner on “need-to-know” information right when they need it (for example, when a salesperson wishes to brush up his product knowledge before meeting a prospect).
To achieve this, a portal or a Learning Management System (LMS) can be used to host the short and interactive product videos. So, whenever a learner wants to access a particular product video, they simply log in to the portal/mobile LMS with their credentials and access the library of instructional videos.
6. Make the Content Easily Accessible with Mobile Learning
To keep learner engagement intact, learners must be able to access the product training content whatever device they are accessing it on. This is important in today’s learning given their tight work schedules and tendencies to use different devices to access training content on the go. For this very reason, organizations must create content that is mobile-friendly.
There are rapid authoring tools that allow courseware designers to create courses that automatically adjust, based on the device learners are using. As I mentioned earlier, the mobile-friendly courses can be game-changing for salespeople when they are having trouble with sales pitches or are unsure about certain product’s information. All they need to do is pull out their mobile devices and the information is there for them.
7. Cater to a Global Audience with Translation and Localization
Note that a global company will have salespeople residing in different parts of the world, speaking different languages. These reps need to be trained well to get enhanced product knowledge, which indirectly influences their sales goals. If the training is in learners’ native language, they can learn better and are more likely to produce better results. Doing so not only results in helping them understand the product accurately, but also increases the chances of engagement with the material.
While making lucrative sales pitches, salespeople are expected to be quite animated and lively. They need to be excited about the organization’s product or services. But as soon as they enter a training environment, the passive nature of most training methods fails to keep the learner engaged. Injecting these engagement strategies in your product training will surely enliven your training, and more importantly help learners learn in an engaging way.