In the last blog, we discussed the importance of product knowledge to drive business goals. In this blog, we will explore how to develop effective product knowledge training and deployment.
Let us first examine the goals of product knowledge training.
Table of Contents
The crux of the training must cover the raison d’etre of the product. What does the product do? What are its features? How does it work? This must include the following objectives:
- Define product purpose, use, working, price
- Describe key features of the product
- Discuss product strengths and weaknesses
- Understand the product’s Unique Selling Proposition
- Install and configure product
- Solve product problems
- Integration with other products
- Explain service support details
Leading to the most vital lesson –
Understanding Customer Benefit
How does the product help the target audience to solve a problem/enhance performance/streamline work and so on and so forth. In other words, how does the product facilitate a deeply positive experience? How does it tackle current challenges and either help surmount them or show another way? This section must comprise the following objectives:
- Understanding Customer Benefit
- Identify inherent product appeal to customers
- Demonstrate product benefits within the customer’s context
- Tackle customer concerns/objections
- Support customisation requests
- “Why should I buy this?”
Analysing the competition
“Why should I buy your product, when X is offering me a similar one at a better deal?” is a query often thrown at the sales force and the front-line staff. It stands to reason that any representative in direct contact with the customer must be conversant with the competition, their products, features, benefits, cost and industry reputation. The following objectives must be covered in this module:“Why should I buy your product, when X is offering me a similar one at a better deal?” is a query often thrown at the sales force and the front-line staff. Click To Tweet
- Identify competitors’ products
- Analyse features, benefits, strengths, weaknesses and price of competitors’ products
- Evaluate competitors’ products with own products
- Demonstrate the benefits of the winning features and benefits for positive client engagement
- Identify own product’s weaknesses if any
- Position the vulnerabilities, if any such that they do not take away from the performance of the whole/are negligible
Not every product is unique. Most are premised on the principles and features of existing products, and as such these continue to exist. These are not necessarily competition, but traditional products, used over time to become entrenched in the collective psyche.
Take for instance Excel sheets – a million things can be done with them, so that they are equally valuable to Accounts, Finance, Sales, Human Resources, Project Management and Training to name a few functions who use them regularly. But, each of these functions now have an array of software products which incorporate the best of Excel’s features in an enhanced and user-friendly interface which is timesaving and boosts productivity.
So, when the customer reverts to these conventional options, the product representative must be able to guide the client with effective answers and compelling solutions. This section of the training must fulfil the following objectives:
- Identify traditional products which help solve part of the customer’s needs
- Understand the use and limitations of traditional products
- Demonstrate own product’s enhanced capabilities and features
- Discuss the benefits of own product that help solve the client’s requirements/challenges
Soft Skills Training
Effective communication is of paramount importance. Training should impart the following:
Now that we have got all the elements of effective product knowledge training covered, it’s time to hit the road and actually, run the training programme.
Let’s now examine the most effective deployment of this thoughtfully put together course on product training for the company’s representatives.
Online access over a Learning Management System (LMS)
In our current coronavirus-charged times, the only means to access any learning/skill is to do it online. Online learning has been consistently gaining in popularity, and a study reveals some fascinating statistics:
- The worldwide e-learning market is projected to be worth $325 Billion in 2025.
- In 2017, approximately 77% of US corporations used online learning, but 98% planned to incorporate it in their program by 2020.
- In 2017, 67% of US companies offered learning opportunities via smartphones.
- E-learning increases retention rates by 25% to 60%.
- E-learning for companies grew by a stunning 900% between 2001 and 2017.
- E-learning has led to an increase in income for 42% of US organizations.
- A survey of 2,500 companies found that those with “comprehensive training programs” have 218% higher revenue per employee and 24% higher profit margins.
- IBM saved approximately $200 million after switching to e-learning.
For the product training to be productive and 100% successful, employees must be able to access modules on a need-to-know, anytime, anywhere basis.
A responsive design LMS will enable creation of a master training online course that can automatically adjust to the device the employee is using; in other words, it could be a laptop at work, and a mobile/tablet at home.
An LMS also allows for an enhanced training experience by using a variety of content and platforms – video, simulation, slides, documents, audio, webinars, case studies, games, role play, quizzes, social media – to keep the employee motivated and engaged.
Not only will the training be more easily digested and retained, but the organization can also track usage, measure performance, and provide feedback to the employee.
In the hopefully near future, when social distancing norms are relaxed, and people resume venturing out to buy goods and services, let your employees actually practice what they learnt about the product. Pair learners such that one is a customer, the other a salesperson/frontline staff and organises role plays, including citing concerns, objections, competition.
Ongoing and refresher training
This point cannot be emphasized enough. Not every salesperson/company rep will be talking about every product every day. Days may go by without any opportunity to showcase a particular product. When the opportunity finally presents itself, the company rep must not be caught on the wrong foot because he was not up to speed, courtesy a long gap. Organizations must integrate systematic refresher training, so that continuous learning is inextricably woven into the company culture.
If you would like to know more about developing and deploying Product Knowledge training in your organization, do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org