Product lines today have become increasingly complex and if you need to train your sales force effectively on all your products, you need to organize your material and present it in a user-friendly manner. Here are a few tips for developing training programs for your sales force.
Focus on how products address customer needs: Customers are not as interested in the features of products as they are in knowing how these products will solve their problems. Thus, a need-based orientation of product knowledge will be useful for sales people.
To address customer needs, begin by segregating the products in the product line, based on how they address customer needs. Model numbers are for an organization’s internal use, though they are of little use to customers in the initial stage. Therefore, identifying a product by its value proposition is important during product sales training.
Highlight features-applications-benefits: A feature only describes a physical or functional characteristic of your product. For example, a photocopier with automatic feeding produces x number of copies per minute. However, this feature becomes a “benefit” when a customer is able to save valuable person-hours, which can be utilized productively elsewhere. Sales people should be able to highlight different ways in which customers can benefit from using the products they market. Therefore, eLearning or online training material needs to be designed to highlight customer-benefits.
Use scenarios to establish product relevance: Create scenarios that demonstrate likely customer situations. Mr. Y of ABC Company was exploring ways to reduce the time taken for manual testing of the company’s products. We offered him our product XYZ that reduced the average testing time by half….A story such as this not only demonstrates the value of the product to customers but also helps sales people remember it better. This naturally translates into more impactful customer interactions. It is possible to create visually appealing scenarios that establish product relevance in a compelling and convincing manner through eLearning modules.
Sales people may not require all of the above information at the same time. Therefore, when such information is shared during classroom training sessions, it provides an overall perspective to the sales person but the extent to which this information is retained for effective recall during customer interactions is doubtful. Converting classroom material to e-learning and sales collaterals to online resources and podcasts is one way to ensure that sales people have an authentic and easy reference source for continuous learning.