Product knowledge is critical for a sales representative’s success. After all, every sales representative must understand the product or service they are selling, otherwise they couldn’t sell it.
The mistake most sales managers make however, is they conduct long product knowledge sessions, sometimes lasting for days, and all the time is spent memorizing features and specifications. This will not make your sales representative more successful. In fact, speaking from personal experience, this will actually do more to confuse your team than it will to help them.
In depth and intense training sessions may be necessary when launching new products or when a sales representative first joins the company, however to be truly effective, product training has to go a step further.
It is important to ensure that all technical information given is from a sales value point of view. Don’t discuss features and specifications without directly relating them to the benefits they provide the customer. The bottom line is sales people cannot remember a huge amount of technical information compressed into a short period of time. In fact, sales people tend to only remember product knowledge when they have a vested interest in doing so, that being when it is relevant to a current sales situation and their commission is on the line.
In addition to long product sessions for product launches or new hire training, informal ongoing training meetings are a great way to keep your sales representatives learning and developing their skills. Why not conduct a half hour product training meeting every day at 8:00 am? That way the meetings are over before the sales day begins. There is no need for a formal agenda. You could just let a sales representative’s product question dictate the topic for the day. Or you could focus on one specific product feature every morning. That way you can ensure the sales reps convert the feature into the a customer benefit so they can actually use their new found knowledge in a sales situation properly.
I have used these type of training meetings successfully for years. The key is to keep them short and informal. I didn’t even make attendance mandidtory, just those who wanted to learn showed up. Interestingly enough, as the sales results of the representatives who attended these meetings improved, so did the attendance.
For more proven sales management techiniques that will increase your team’s results, including an automated product training scheduler, check out my book Action Plan for Sales Management Success. It is available in every eReader format and now, by popular demand, is also available in a print version. You can also purchase it at these fine retailers: Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon International, Barnes & Noble, Apple iStore, Kobo, Diesel, Sony, and Smashwords.com