Your sales team has to excel in their knowledge about the product as well as market successfully confront obstacles posed by customers. Very often, they do not have the time to even consult a colleague and require instant solutions to problems encountered in the field. In such situations, how can you equip your sales force with the right knowledge and tools to be able to reach higher sales volume? One way is to supplement classroom training with online training.
Here are some learning methods that you can incorporate as part of your product training strategy.
Using e-learning before and after classroom training
If you are handling complex products, you need hands-on training. However, the classroom interaction with SMEs can be maximised if basic information and knowledge can be shared through e-learning. That way, sales force can use the face to face interaction to understand the nuances of the product from the experts.
For example, if you need to train sales people on precision weighing instruments, you will need to train them on the product in a face to face session. However, to maximise the face to face interaction, you could get them to complete e-learning modules that give an overview of the product range, the industries they serve and typical buyer personas. This might enable them to maximise the classroom interaction with more selling-specific questions and queries.
According to a research, people tend to forget what they have learnt over a period of time. However, learning interventions with the best learning methods can help in long-term retention. So, once the sales team completes classroom training, you can test their understanding of different products through online assessments. You can also create short videos and modules that can be used to refresh their knowledge about product features and key customer benefits. Thus, e-learning modules reinforce knowledge shared in the classroom.
Making training accessible from mobile devices
Your sales team works in dynamic situations and they may not always have access to the material or training when they need. For example, a sales person might run into a prospective customer in a hotel or at an airport. If you have the resources such as product manuals, product comparisons and benefits online in a mobile friendly format, your sales person can immediately access them via a smartphone and share it with the prospect.
One of the leading pharma companies wanted to train their field sales force on their latest products. It was not possible to get them to a central location for classroom training. Hence, online training was chosen to be the viable option. However, since the sales force was working in remote areas that didn’t have reliable access to the Internet, courses compatible with mobile devices were created. These courses were simple, user-friendly, addressed their learning needs on the field and were therefore, a great hit.
Providing resources in multiple formats
Your sales person might be driving to meet a prospect and want to brush up the key features of a product. He can obviously watch a video or go through the modules. In such situations, podcasts are an excellent option. However, there may be situations where PDF documents might be a good option. Essential content can be presented in multiple formats such interactive e-learning modules, short videos, PDF documents or Podcasts to cater to the unique situations in which a sales person functions.
A progressive institute providing healthcare solutions and online healthcare training wanted to train its healthcare representatives spread across the world. It wanted to provide advanced knowledge and continuous learning to improve healthcare interactions. Using scenarios and characters that the end-users could easily identify with, courses were created that could be accessed through iPads. At the same time, the tips and key points of the module were compiled into Podcasts and the summary of the module was also made available as a PDF document. Members of the sales team could choose the medium that best catered to their need.
It is not possible for sales people to retain all information about all the products they sell today – considering the large range of products they handle. Relying on event-based training does not suit the market challenges of today. For this purpose, on-demand product training is a good option to consider. The key to on-demand product training for sales people is to provide just the right knowledge and in the format that best works for them. This can be further supported by providing an online collaborative platform that enables them to interact and share experiences with peers and seniors. Such a platform is also a good medium for sales managers to share tips and motivate their sales force on a regular basis.
By RK Prasad, Co-Founder and CEO, CommLab India, a 15-year global e-learning company. He is responsible for formulating business strategy and ensures that his organisation does 'not lose sight of the forest for the trees' by continually reminding the team of the 'big picture' and the true purpose and values of the organisation. Before his foray into the world of training and e-learning, RK was a sales professional selling wide range of products from electronic typewriters, fertilizers, computer peripherals as wella s much more.