This topic will be presented at the ISA Marketing and Sales Summit by Mike Robertson of Catalyst Performance Learning.
The problem with most product training is that it is about the product, not how to sell the product. Salespeople say that under
standing how a product works is the easy part, they want to know how to sell it. Product training is developed by technical and marketing people. They take much more of a 30,000 foot view of the product and the salesperson has to position the product at the 3 foot level. The result is a sales call discussing features and benefits, not the value to the customer. Salespeople spend valuable time creating their own sales materials that often do not support the branding message.
The three keys to product sales training are that it must support the sales cycle, it must remove the “leap of faith” and it must provide situational access:
- Support the sales cycle
The sales process requires different knowledge about the product at different times in the process. It is critical that training recognizes this and provides the right information at the right time.
- “Leap of Faith”
Product training often describes features and benefits and discusses customer value but to be effective it must link the features and benefits directly to customer values in a logical way that will help the customer understand, believe and value the message. It is not good enough to give the salesperson all of the facts and expect them to create the logical linkages; the training must do it for them.
- Situational access
Product training is often delivered at annual meetings, through lunch and learns or possibly by web based presentations, all of which will build awareness. All of these are training events that expect the sales person to absorb the information and recall it when they need it in the sales process. Effective product sales training must be available in a modular on demand format. This is particularly important for third party sales channels that represent many products from multiple manufacturers.
There are three steps to developing effective product training that will increase sales results:
- First train your technical and marketing subject matter experts to Think Like a Salesperson. This is a very specific thought process that that teaches the product training developer to understand exactly how salespeople manage the pursuit of an opportunity.
- Next it is critical that the training developer gathers all of the information required to produce effective training. The message for the maintenance supervisor may be very different than the message for the operators.
- The last step is to deliver the training in a manner that actually supports the sales cycle. Do not expect every salesperson to remember everything you told them or even go back to the slide stack to dig out what they need. Present training that is available real time that will ensure the salesperson delivers the right message, to the right person, at the right time, to get the right results.
Product Sales Training will be appreciated by the sales team and it will improve sales results.
About Mike Robertson
Mike is a Sr. Partner with Catalyst Performance Learning, a sales training and consulting company, specializing in eLearning development, product training and CRM systems development. Prior to Catalyst Mike spent 16 years as a Honeywell sales manager. His most recent project is leading the development of the Sales Certification Program for the Measurement, Control and Automation Association. You may contact Mike at 770-903-9926 or [email protected]