According to ASTD State of Sales Training report, product training is the most frequently delivered training to sales people. A Training Industry survey also reveals that most of the sales training received by sales people is about the product. It is conventional wisdom that as the frequency of releasing new products or upgrading existing products increases, so should the pace of training in any organization to keep the sales force updated.
But at the same time, it is the responsibility of the product training managers to know to what extent sales people have understood about the product and test them periodically. Such periodic assessments not only reinforce the training conducted, but also improve retention and facilitate knowledge transfer on-field.
You may have assessed your sales team at the end of the training sessions, but periodic checks after the completion of training are essential to check how much the learner has retained.
Your objective of assessments along with assessing learners should also be refreshing the product knowledge training conducted earlier. Here, I am going to list out various ways you can assess the product knowledge of your learners using technology-enabled learning methodologies.
1. Sales Simulations
Say you want to assess sales reps on the how they approach the decision maker when they enter the prospect’s workplace (which was a part of training they received) and know about the challenges the organization faces, which can be solved with the products that they promote. Create a simulated environment which mimics the real time conditions in your online assessments.
Create a situation sales reps commonly face and frame the assessment questions at each level such that by answering it, the learners finally will be able to identify the decision maker and the challenges faced by the organization.
2. Game-based Evaluation
Game-based learning is the latest trend in online learning. Let us see an example to know how to use this strategy to assess the product knowledge of your learners.
One of the major electronic device manufacturing firms wanted to train their sales reps on products across their divisions; so that sales reps can cross sell or help the other division reps identify qualified leads. One of the objectives of the training was to give an overview of the products the other divisions have to offer. Training was conducted with a blend of ILT and self-paced learning modules. After the training, they wanted to test the knowledge of sales reps through game-based assessments.
In this game-based strategy, at the beginning of the game the learner needs to select a colored pawn (each pawn represents the products of a specific division). After selecting, the learner is taken to the slide where he needs to roll a dice. Depending on the number he gets, the pawn moves and opens a specific card. The card reveals a question about the product which the learner needs to answer to proceed forward. After successfully completing a round, the player’s name is highlighted on the leaderboard of the LMS in the color of the pawn he selected along with the score.
3. Scenario-based Assessments
There is a minor difference between scenarios and simulations. In simulations, we create a replica of the real time environment, with the characters, background environment and a situation that is immersive in nature. In scenarios, we concentrate more on the situation than the background or characters. In short, in simulations we create an environment and present a situation whereas in scenarios, we present just a situation. Creating scenarios is simple compared to simulations. Let see an example here.
Consider you want to assess the how well a sales rep can counter a competitor’s product. Create a scenario where the sales rep gives the customer a demo on the product. The customer asks the sales rep specific questions on how his product is better compared to the competitor. The responses of the sales rep can determine his comprehension of the training content.
4. Video-based Assessments
Here you can develop videos that can be 2 to 5 minutes long. You can develop them using the common mistakes sales reps make on-field. They can also be real-life or augmented reality or animated videos. After showing the video, learners can be asked about the particular mistakes committed by the sales reps in them and ask them better ways to handle it.
Let us take an example where you want to assess the learner’s ability to identify the stage of the buying cycle the customer is in, and pitch about the product. Consider the scenario – a customer, before buying a product, researches online, goes to other retail outlets and knows everything about the product; and comes to your retail outlet with the decision to buy your product. There the sales rep meets him and starts bombarding with the product knowledge he has, without having any intention to know what the customer needs and the stage he is in. Such a video can be shown and assessments can be framed to ask learners about the mistakes committed by the sales rep in the video and what could have been done better.
You can deliver various types of assessments through an LMS where you can monitor, track, and analyze the results that can be very useful to identify knowledge gaps and refine your product knowledge training programs to maximize the sales force’s on-job performance. Have anything to say? Please do share!