Often, when we think of sales training, what we are really thinking of is product knowledge training – educating sales and other professionals about a company’s products or services. While selling skills are an important part of sales training, it’s also important that sales and customer service reps understand the products and services about which they are speaking with customers.
Product knowledge ensures that sales professionals can communicate effectively and enthusiastically, building trust and confidence in customer relationships. It also means they can answer questions on the spot and overcome common customer objections. In fact, Dillard’s has discovered that every hour its associates spend on product training increases their sales rate by 5 percent.
Here are some best practices for product knowledge training.
Teach sales professionals to understand their customers’ needs.
Without understanding the needs of their customers, sales professionals will be unable to identify which solutions they can offer to meet those needs. Instead of just selling a product, sales reps will be partnering with customers to solve their problems – a much more effective tactic.
Use just-in-time training.
Make sales training content and job aids available online and on multiple types of devices. If sales professionals can access product information quickly and easily, they are more likely to use it when and where they need it, even when they’re on the road. Publishing training content online also makes it easier to refresh when products are updated.
Provide opportunities to practice.
Use role-plays, simulations, game mechanics and other techniques to provide opportunities for sales professionals to apply their product knowledge in real-life situations. Pair learners together so that one can practice being the customer and one can be the salesperson, practicing common objections and questions before they are in the field.
Chunk training content into bite-sized pieces: one module per product or service. Microlearning helps employees process and retain information, and limiting modules to a single topic can prevent cognitive overload. Short, bite-sized videos can demonstrate products or services quickly and effectively, providing a concrete, visual memory for salespeople to draw on later.
Provide product refresher training.
Make sure product knowledge training is ongoing. If sales professionals aren’t selling one particular product every day, they will need reminders on what the products are and what customer problems they solve. Integrate training into your organizational culture so that employees seek training when they need it.
Partner with marketing.
Your marketing department likely has a great deal of collateral on the products and services your company offers. Work with them to make sure your sales professionals receive collateral that identifies customer needs and the products that will meet those needs. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel when you have experts already in your company!
To be successful, sales professionals need the selling skills to communicate value and close deals. But they also need the confidence that comes from a deep understanding of customer needs and their company’s offerings. Product knowledge training can transform employees from sellers to client partners.
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