Editor’s Note: This blog post has been updated in December 2021.
In the last blog, we discussed the importance of product knowledge to drive business goals. In this article, let us explore the ways and means to develop effective product knowledge training, what are the key aspects for consideration, and its strategic deployment to achieve desired objectives.
We must commence by examining the goals of product knowledge training. What are the objectives to achieve? Taking a hard look at the big picture might present valuable product knowledge training ideas, and that is a good first step to take.
Table of Contents
The crux of the training must cover the core of the product itself. What does the product do? What are its features? How does it work? This must include the following objectives:
- Define product purpose, use, functionality, and price
- Describe key features of the product
- Discuss product’s strengths and weaknesses
- Understand the product’s USP
- Product installation and configuration
- Integration with other products
- Explain service support details
Any approach one chooses from such diverse product knowledge training ideas must lead to the ultimate goal of understanding customer benefit. How does the product help the target audience? From how it helps to solve a problem or enhance performances of existing tasks to streamline systems and procedures; clearly defining the goal will yield a lasting impact. Simply put, how does the product facilitate a deeply positive experience? How does it tackle current challenges?
To achieve this, the product training must encompass:
- Deep understanding of benefits to customers
- Identification of existing products that appeal to customers
- Demonstration of product benefits within the customer’s context
- Tackle customer concerns / objections
- Stance on customization requests and the way forward
- Compelling reasons to address “Why should I buy this?”
Analysing the competition
This is one of the potent product knowledge training ideas and must be addressed as part of product training. A query that is often posed by the customer is “Why should I buy your product when X is offering me a better deal?” It makes sense for any representative in direct contact with the customer to be aware and confident about the competition, their products, features, benefits, cost, and industry reputation. The following objectives must be covered in this module of product training:“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
- Analyze features, benefits, strengths, weaknesses, and price of competitors’ products
- Evaluate and compare products
- Demonstrate the benefits of the winning features for positive client engagement.
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 L&D to name a few functions who use them regularly. But each of these functions now has an array of software products that incorporate the best of Excel’s features in an enhanced and user-friendly interface which is time-saving 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. Hence, another one from the list of viable product knowledge training ideas is to include a section on alternatives available. This product training section must fulfill 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 your own product that help solve the client’s requirements/challenges.
Soft Skills Training
Effective communication is of paramount importance. This need is amplified as an essential skill for every salesperson. Organizations must set aside exclusive time to impart soft skills training. A recent study found that just an hour of training each month resulted in a 6% rise in revenue for the salesperson. Gain an unparalleled advantage and include soft skills training to complement product training sessions.
Soft skills training must focus on the three Cs – communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. While there are exclusive trainers to address this need, organizations must ensure timely assessment of the skill development program. Create role-plays and other safe avenues for practice. Build confidence in the sales team members.
Now that we have explored effective product knowledge training ideas, let us move on to the actual product training program and ensure the strategies of deployment support objectives and the results to achieve.
A. Access through Dependable Learning Technology
In the current climate of hybrid work models and WFH requirements, an LMS ensures there are no disruptions to training. However, even before the onset of a global pandemic, eLearning has been consistently gaining in popularity, and a study reveals some fascinating statistics. Some of the key points have been highlighted here:
- 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 anytime and anywhere. The digital transformation of modern workplace learning is moving at a phenomenal pace.
A responsive design LMS will enable the creation of a master online course that can automatically align or become compatible with the device the employee is using; in other words, it could be a laptop at work, or a mobile/tablet at home. An LMS also allows for an enhanced training and learning experience by using a variety of content, strategies, and platforms – video, simulation, slides, documents, audio, webinars, case studies, games, role play, quizzes, social media, and more. The options to keep the employee motivated and engaged in their product training and beyond is one too many.
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. This article here gives you a definitive guide to a Learning Experience Platform and how it can assist organizations to achieve their L&D goals. Another article here is yet another insightful read about how technology enhances the skill set of employees for dynamic challenges.
From product training to helping sales in the flow of work, discover how Fractal LXP can be your ally.
B. Role Plays & Practice Avenues
Hopefully, soon, social distancing norms will be relaxed, and the sales team can resume its core function of meeting and interacting with customers tête-à-tête. Until then, enable and empower your employees through vital practice of what they have learned in product training sessions. Pair learners such that one is a customer, the other a salesperson/frontline staff, and organize role plays. Include real concerns, objections, competition, and more diverse challenges. Observe how the salespersons handle complex situations, offer feedback, and refine approach and presentation.
Simulation platforms on learning technology also offer such enhanced opportunities and experiences.
C. Ongoing and/or Refresher Training
Another important aspect for organizations to consider during the development and deployment stage is whether any of the product knowledge training ideas and subsequent product training needs to be ongoing and continuous, and what portion of it is to be considered for a refresher.
While this can be strategically considered, based on product and objectives, L&D is at its best when there is a fine balance to incorporate both. Organizations must integrate systematic refresher training, so that continuous learning is inextricably woven into the company culture.
This article here carefully details out the merits of continuous learning to upskill and reskill employees.
Through this blog, we have undertaken a detailed analysis of the various product knowledge training ideas, what are the key aspects to include in the development stage, and factors to consider for the deployment of product training. Would you like to explore the various opportunities at your organization? Custom training content is what makes product training unique to address specific organizational needs. Write to us at email@example.com