Training, for Sales and Marketing Personnel, generally falls into three categories. The first is selling skills training, next comes the product training and then you may have training for processes, procedures or compliance. Let’s focus on product training. How is product training normally conducted by organizations?
Traditionally, product training is in the form of classroom training, or workshops, spreading over 2-3 days. The trainers are basically product managers and technical experts, who make presentations about the product and perhaps, give a demonstration of the products at hand. Sometimes, sales persons are given a quick product training, either during pre-product launch meetings, product launches sales meetings, or during annual review meetings. This would not be a dedicated product training effort, rather it would be more of product introduction, than training in a true sense and product training would only be a small part of a larger agenda.
Traditional method of product training is no longer sufficient and here’s why there is a need to change product training methodology for the following reasons.
Here is why you need to relook at your product training strategy:
|Too many products: Gone are the days, when an annual product launch at a sales meet, would suffice. There are many products that are being launched each quarter, by organizations. Subsequent to the launch of a product, the company would have come up with further product upgrades and brought out many versions, in the subsequent months. Keeping sales people up to date, with the new products and their specifications, at the same rate at which they are launched, is a big challenge.
1. Training needs to be continual to cater to regular product upgrades and launches. Only then will it be effective and purposeful.
|Reduced product lifecycles: Products are getting outdated faster, and organizations need to find a more viable and cost-effective method of training their personnel on products. After all, it does not make business sense to spend huge amounts on classroom training, when you know that the product will not be relevant, a few months from now.
2. Training has to be viable, so that training programs with each new product launch is feasible and cost-effective.
|Knowledgeable customers: Sales people have to confront customers who have already done preliminary research, not just about their product, but also about other equivalents available in the market. Thanks to the internet, they are more knowledgeable and better informed and therefore, training for sales people needs to be geared to ensure they are armed with all the required knowledge, to address customer queries and objections.
3. Teaching about product features is no longer sufficient to impress a customer. Relevant training that helps sales people sell is essential.
|Intense competition: There are more players in the market selling similar products, and competing, within the same market space. Competition has become severe and if you don’t nurture your lead and close the sale, there is always someone else to seize the opportunity. I once came across a sales person who gave a presentation of all their models. I was looking for a specific feature in a product and he was unable to tell me which model had the feature; thereby failing to help me make a purchase decision. On the other hand, another sales person was quite enterprising, he had all the information handy on his mobile device and was able to point out the exact model that fitted my needs, and made a recommendation in the matter of minutes. Needless to say, he clinched the deal.
4. Empowering sales people with just-in-time information is essential to beat competition.
Do you agree with the reasons mentioned vis-à-vis product training? How do you think organizations can realign their product training strategy, to meet the changing requirements? Would be interested to share your thoughts, on the same.