E-learning for product training helps organizations to train their sales personnel quickly on the products. However, online training is different from classroom training and the way curriculum is designed for classroom programs cannot be replicated when designing e-learning programs. You need to follow a definitive strategy taking into consideration different learning preferences and the opportunities provided by online medium as well as its limitations.
Content for product training courses are primarily of three types:
- “WHAT” the product is all about, its features, specifications and accessories required etc. This information is typically included in product disclosures.
- “HOW” information states how a given product fits into the product portfolio. You can also include the target segment for the product if different from other products in the portfolio.
- “WHY” information that refers to product messaging. It includes information about why a customer should buy the product. Focus needs to be on key benefits that a customer gets from using the product.
In short, you need to discern relevant information in line with the course objectives from the product disclosures and product message documents.
- The style and tone of the course should be in second person (sometimes in first). The course should flow cohesively like a story with the tone confident and strong. The brand message should be appropriately used throughout the course (not forced).
- Key Take-away on Every Screen. Every screen should carry a summary of the content that has been discussed on the screen. And the one key point that the learners need to remember from among the content shared.
- The length of the course should not be more than 30 minutes. Even this can be split into three modules of 10minutes duration so that a sales person can easily squeeze the course into his/her busy schedule without having to plan for it in advance.
- Assessments that are included in the courses should be more application oriented than having questions which require factual recall value
Visual treatment required for online product training courses
The course developer should keep the limitations of the authoring tool in mind when designing the course for building interactions. However, irrespective of what features the authoring tool provides, here are some basic guidelines that need to be kept in mind for product training courses.
- Use product photographs while explaining products instead of textual content which may be too theoretical. Explaining text in the context of the product with visuals results in better understanding.
- Line diagrams and animations might be helpful while explaining how the product functions. Rich visuals which enhance the textual content should be used wherever appropriate.
- Show real people while demonstrating products. Learners might relate to the situation. For example showing a Nurse using hospital equipment, a shop floor worker using a piece of machinery.
- Colors used need to adhere to the product branding strategy and corporate color scheme.
- Finally, there should a balance between text and images. Too much text or only visuals may not be effective in retention of knowledge. Images should complement textual content and enhance learning value.
You may be a training manager, sales manager or product manager who is foraying into developing online product training for your sales/service personnel. You may want to consider some of the guidelines mentioned above for content treatment and visual design when developing online courses.