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Online Product Training for Sales Reps – An E-learning Expert’s Insights

Product knowledge is essential for sales people to make the right pitch.  With sales people handling multiple products in the product line, you need to ensure they make the right pitch based on the customer’s requirements. Usually, there isn’t enough time to organize a traditional in-person classroom training program due to lack of time and other logistical reasons.  In such situations, e-learning will be a good option.

The online learning medium is ideal to train your sales folk on products. Reps can access online courses anytime, anywhere, without disturbing their busy work schedules. Furthermore, e-learning courses are cheaper and provide the best ROI on training. A study by IBM showed firms that use technology-enabled learning tools and strategies have the potential to boost productivity by up to 50%. For every dollar a company spends on e-learning, it’s estimated it can receive thirty dollars worth of productivity. Another advantage of e-learning is that courses can be developed rapidly, and this goes a long way in bridging the time gap between product launches and product training for the salesforce. Today, thanks to rapid e-learning development software such as Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate, an online course of one hour can be developed in less than 20 days.

But, how can you develop an online course to impart effective product training to your salespeople? To find out, I talked to Arindam Nag, an e-learning veteran at CommLab India. CommLab India has been in the business of providing technology-enabled learning solutions since 2000. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

Imparting knowledge of the market and needs of potential customers

One of the key aspects of good selling is knowing the market well. How can the online training medium help firms in this regard?

Today’s markets are ever-changing, and sales reps need to be updated constantly on the latest developments in the marketplace. Short, mobile-compatible online learning modules of not more than 10 minutes each can be used very effectively for this purpose. These modules are cost-effective and can be developed rapidly to cater to the knowledge needs of a dynamic business environment.

A good comprehension of customer needs is essential to sell effectively. Can e-learning be used to train sales force on the requirements of potential buyers of the products?

You can use online courses containing buyer-personas to explain the needs and challenges of prospective customers to your sales reps, with a high degree of effectiveness. For instance, one of our clients in the laboratory equipment space uses micro e-learning courses to train its sales staffers on the requirements of prospective buyers.

Training sales reps on the functioning and features of products

Training sales reps on the functioning and features of products

Most B2B products are quite complex. Can the online medium be used to train sales reps on these products?Absolutely!  Lots of online learning tools can be used to impart good product training, as part of a blended learning strategy. For instance, animated explainer videos are a great way to train sales reps on the functioning of products. These videos can be rendered well on mobile devices and provide a good idea of how the product works.  For instance, you can use a video to explain the functioning of a combustion turbine. You can also use videos to explain the working of products to customers. As you know, it is not possible to demonstrate many B2B products live.<Embed the video


Can you share examples of how you have used e-learning for training sales teams on product benefits to buyers?<

Bite-sized online learning modules can be used to explain how the features of a product can meet specific needs of customers. For example, one of our clients in the industrial electronics vertical has developed several short, web-based training modules to educate its salespeople on how the needs of customers in different industries such as iron and steel, energy, etc. can be met with its new Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system.

Helping reps address customer objections

In most cases, the success of a sales conversation hinges on the rep’s ability to address customer objections. How can self-paced technology-enabled learning help in this aspect?

Handling customer objections and ensuring smooth conversations with prospects are primarily soft skills, which are well-taught in an instructor-led training (ILT)

can use scenario-based, micro e-learning modules to supplement this training. One of our clients in the pharmaceutical space uses micro online learning modules containing scenarios to train its sales reps on handling the objections of doctors to prescribe its products.

Medical rep

It is also a good idea to provide sales reps mobile-compatible lists containing the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) posed by customers.

Enabling sales reps value sell

Organizations which create the best value for their customers are the most successful. How can you inculcate the “value mindset” in salespeople?

Good question. Sales reps need to be educated that providing the right solution which meets the long term needs of the customer goes a long way in adding value to the sale. In fact, one of our clients in the financial services sector uses an online course containing a case-study to educate its sales force how adopting the value-based selling approach proved to be highly beneficial.

The key to making a “value sale” is convincing the customer that the product offers the best ROI on his investment. Can the online learning medium helpsales reps project the ROI of their products well?

You can use mobile-compatible performance support tools to help your people calculate the ROI on your product and show how it is superior to the return provided by the competitor’s product. One of our clients in the heavy machinery sector uses ‘mobile’ job-aids to calculate the amount the client would save, using their products, and determine the break-even period.

So, Arindam feels e-learning is very useful to train sales folk on products and its potential could be exploited in multiple formats. Hope you enjoyed the interview.

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