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Product Training Ideas

Hello all!

I am the Sales Trainer for an animal safety corporation and in my recent "bonus incentive" overview I was told I have to create ten different product training modules. Our products are everything from gloves to needles to vaccines to rat bait. Although I don't have much of an issue with learning the vast amount of products, my real issue lies in the delivery of the training. I will be training sales and customer service reps.

To the real dilemma - each product line that we manufacture has it's own product manager. These product managers also conduct trainings on their products. Their training is a typical PowerPoint with demonstration of the product, etc. I want to take a different angle - I just don't know exactly what that is yet. I was thinking some kind of [FONT='Calibri','sans-serif']interactivity[/font], role playing, scenarios, or something along those lines.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! I'm stuck!

Thank so much! - by kporter
Hi Katie,
There is no shortage of people who will suggest that knowing your products and services is crucial. If you stick to the basics such as discovering what people want of value that your product or service offers and then train on the product features that map to those types of values you should do just fine. - by letmetellyouastory
Product knowledge is only one piece (and sometimes it's a fairly small piece) of the sales proficiency pie. Therefore, anything you can do to impact the sales skills and abilities of your salespeople to successfully sell your product should be what you focus on.

There are armies of salespeople out there with tons of product knowledge and no sales ability. It usually doesn't make for a very productive sales force.

That means, among other things, focusing on how to create rapport and trust, how to effectively investigate for needs and desires, how to effectively present a product to a prospect, and how to close the sale.

Or, if you want to only focus on "product training modules", somehow it would be beneficial to figure out how to partner with your product managers to create it. What you don't want is a duplicate of the training your product managers are already presenting, so if you haven't already, I would ask your boss this question: "How do you envision my training modules to be different from the training that the product managers already do?" - by Skip Anderson
Sales skills training is far more valuable than product training, after all, it is not sales training at all, as an engineer or chemist could provide this type of learning. Furthermore, any sales person who is a professional can figure out features ... so can those who are not yet pros!!!

My research and that of countless others before me - spanning many decades (in my case 3), shows definitively that there was far too much product training in sales organizations and much less sales skills training, role playing and revue than what is beneficial.

It is our job as sales trainers to get people from executives to reps to think of what is truly important rather than what is not (product training).

Interestingly, when you study this topic you find that product training is usually mandated by those who either have no sales experience (Executives) to speak of or were never effective sales trainers.

Fight the acceptance of the suggestion of its importance - what you are being told to do - and start SALES TRAINING! - by Gold Calling

My comments will focus primarily on training salespeople.

Two important challenges that arise when multiple product managers deliver training are:

1. The training material is not delivered in a standardized format, which makes it more difficult for attendees to absorb the content.

2. Most product managers that I have met think they have to turn salespeople into product experts in order for them to be able to sell a product effectively. As a result, the training they deliver tends to focus on technical details, NOT on helping salespeople learn how to find and qualify opportunities.

I just posted a reply to the thread, "Intro new product to existing line," that outlines a training methodology I call, "Get Dangerous Quickly (TM)." It is specifically designed to teach salespeople how to find and qualify opportunities for a product or service by using training tools that have a standardized design. Once salespeople become familiar with the standardized design, they can quickly learn what they need to learn to sell a specific product or service.

If you would like to learn more about the Get Dangerous Quickly (TM) training methodology, please see the "Intro new product to existing line" thread. Or, if you wish, please feel free to contact me directly. I would be happy to send you a sample training document to review. - by Alan Rigg
2. Most product managers that I have met think they have to turn salespeople into product experts in order for them to be able to sell a product effectively. As a result, the training they deliver tends to focus on technical details, NOT on helping salespeople learn how to find and qualify opportunities
Ding, ding, ding ... !

I would add to this by saying;

I have never sold a product I could not learn almost entirely on my own. There are always a few questions to ask - these I ask to insure I have got it.

If you are a pro, extensive product training is a waste of time. Some is important but the focus on "finding opportunities", as Alan Rigg put it, is much more productive for the majority of sales people (top pros don't even need this). - by Gold Calling
Hi Katie,

Teaching sales people with short attention spans who would rather be on the road, demands something much more entertaining and grabbing that Powerpoint.

You might find the approach that we have taken with Sales Olympian to be very relevant to your situation. I'd be happy to arrange a viewing for you.

Tony - by TonyB
Hi Katie

Why don't you get suggestions and ideas from the ones you will be training? Let them get involved with their own training, you might be surprised with the ideas they would come up with. They will be much more open minded to your training if they have been involved with the preparation. Take their ideas combine them with your ideas...that would be a lot of fun!

Warmest Regards - by MPrince
Hi Katie
Here are some suggestions / thoughts.

Your training will be driven by your validation, evaluation and initial objectives. So the arguement over whether it'll be product, sales training or product sales training will be driven by the goals and outcomes of the modules.

Traditional PPT training doesn't sit well with this audience type, because it doesn't fit the majority of learning styles for the job functions. So your training needs to be 'brain friendly' to make it absorbing, interesting and useful.
So you'll neeed to ensure that it:
*involves activity - practicing, presenting, feeding back
*details how people will use the knowledge 'on the job'
*allows for thinking and reflection, participants can watch / listen to each others feedback, arguements and comments
*shows how this knowledge fits into their portfolio of knowledge and how its use relates to their roles

Last point I'd suggest Katie is that you will need buy in from the product managers. Try to get their attendance / participation / endorsement - maybe make a video that you can show, with these PM's saying how this training compliments their's

Really hope this helps - by marky
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