Not everyone in the organization needs the same product knowledge. While a CEO needs to know what products his company sells, he doesn’t need to know them in detail. Likewise, essential product information for the seller is different from that of a technician. While service personnel need to know the ins and outs of the product, sales reps just need the information that helps them make the right pitch for selling products, overcoming objections, and answering questions on the sales call. .
But do the sales teams have the right knowledge of the products? Not always. In the report, “Why product training often disappoints and how to improve it,Dr. Gregg Collins, vice president of instructional design at Cognitive Arts, explains that organizations often have the same product training for employees with different roles, from sales force to service personnel. Worse, the emphasis is on “product, rather than helping individuals in their specific roles.
If you want to enable salespeople to pitch the right pitch to prospects and meet their sales quotas, you need to make sure that the product training content addresses these aspects. It would hardly help a salesperson if the product training content consisted of a set of PowerPoint slides filled with technical specifications and jargon related to the product.
So how do you identify the right sales force training content? The answer is content analysis.
Content analysis for product sales training
Content analysis is an important part of any training, and product training is no exception. You should put together all available content related to the product, keeping in mind the information that a seller will need when selling the product. Ideally, a salesperson should have in-depth knowledge of:
- market segmentation
- product portfolio and the position of said product
- customer profile and purchase motivation
- product characteristics, benefits and value it brings to the customer
- competitive product against which this is opposed.
- upsell and cross-sell opportunities
- AMC terms of service and benefits.
When training salespeople on products, you should align the training with these key knowledge areas. How are you doing that? By analyzing the available content and making sure it covers all the essential knowledge elements for a salesperson to reach their target. It may seem obvious, but this process is often overlooked and should be done systematically. It has three stages.
Step 1: Collect the available content
The first step in content analysis is to put the content itself together. You can get product information and documentation from product or marketing. You can also find content scattered throughout the organization in the form of product specifications, brochures, manuals, tables, charts, and product demos. You can also collect existing content in the form of PowerPoint slides or training manuals used by sales managers.
Any input from the marketing department on initial research or feedback during product launches and customer objections could also be a valuable asset. in addition, information on competitor’s products should also be part of this content collation exercise. All of these resources will form the content inventory that will provide the raw material for the training program.
Step # 2: Evaluate the Content
Once you’ve gathered all the relevant content in one place, you need to evaluate it to see if the available information is adequate and consistent across multiple sources. You need to assess whether the available content is relevant to the training objective, to see if it covers all knowledge inputs, from market segmentation to service information. If not, you may need to source relevant content from product managers or subject matter experts.
Sellers will need to know the profile of the target audience. In other words, who is likely to benefit from the product? For example, do they belong to the same industry or do they belong to different industries? If so, industry knowledge should also be part of product training: how the particular product is used in a particular industry. The idea is to ensure that there is comprehensive training material that relates to the products and can prove to be a valuable resource for the sales force.
Step 3: Separate the essential from the non-essential
With the training goal in mind, you will need to prioritize the content. For example, a seller does not need a detailed description of the product design and technical features. However, a seller needs to know the issues the product will solve and the value it brings to potential users.
Any information that helps pitch and convince a prospect is useful to a salesperson. Records of customer objections and preconceived notions about the product are important inputs relevant to sellers. The training program should address how a salesperson can overcome objections or deal with difficult customers.
Additionally, there may be information such as basic troubleshooting tips or typical issues that customers experience while using the product. This may not be directly relevant to making a sales pitch, but it can be helpful when dealing with issues that might arise during the sales conversation. These details can be set aside as “good to know” content and can be shared separately.
Once you have identified the essential content, you can structure it into modules that meet the training objectives. There is no point in overloading salespeople with too much information during training. The training should focus on typical sales situations and provide feedback and ideas on how salespeople can handle these issues to achieve positive results.
If you start to develop the training program with content analysis, you will be able to limit yourself to essential information that leaves salespeople with product knowledge that helps them meet their sales quota.