It’s a given that a salesperson requires product training for the simple fact that they cannot do their job without comprehensive knowledge of the product they are selling. Product training not only gives them the necessary product information but also the confidence to sell that product knowing how it will relieve pain points and provide benefits to their customers.
However, this seemingly obvious need is actually missing from a majority of companies, as 83% of shoppers believe they know more than retail store associates. This is unfortunate, as the same survey shows that 79% of customers believe knowledgeable store associates are important. Inadequate training also leads to more problems for organisations, as 40% of employees leave in their first year without it.
Challenges in Product Training
While training, in general, may have its problems, product training has its unique set of challenges. Here are the major ones that require the greatest attention:
- Training without context — While it is crucial to ingrain the facts about products, this can’t be the sole focus of the training process. Consumers don’t just want a product’s features regurgitated to them when it’s likely they’ve done their research online already. They can have problems specific to their situation that salespeople need to anticipate and understand.
- Training only for the short-term — It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the goal of product training is only to teach the fundamental features of a product. After this, salespeople are then left to learn on the job on their own. However, this increases the chances of making mistakes while dealing with customers who ask more than the most basic of questions.
- Training is too standardised — From the marketing department to the sales team to the customer support staff, everybody in the company should have a baseline knowledge of the product they are selling. The problem with this approach is that all the lessons are taught to everyone, which reduces training effectiveness. Some of it may even be irrelevant to the specific roles of each department.
- Training isn’t collaborative — Traditional product training methods typically don’t allow trainees much input or interaction, if at all, in the learning process. Product training has to be more collaborative, especially now in the social media age, where people are more inclined to share their opinions and learn from each other.
8 Tips for Effective Product Training Via eLearning
Instead of adhering to ineffectual ways of product training, your organisation can pivot to the modern learning and development process of eLearning. Ensure its effectiveness in imparting product knowledge with the help of these seven tips:
1. Modify Courses for Microlearning
Avoid inundating employees with information in one or two product training courses. Segment the contents of your eLearning modules into smaller chunks focused on particular products, customer profiles, and sales practices. It will be much easier for learners to retain the knowledge they absorb and prevent any confusion regarding product features and the target audience.
Microlearning also caters to the sensibilities of young adults who make up the majority of today’s labour demographics. With so much more competition for their time and attention, they will be much more amenable to eLearning courses that can be finished in a matter of minutes.
2. Optimise for Mobile Devices
Considering all the obstacles that have to be overcome with product training, you want to make the learning process as easy as possible for your employees. One big way to do this is by letting learners access your courses through their smartphones or tablets. This synergises well with the microlearning methodology, as learners can check their mobile devices in between short breaks to take on a course or two.
Having such informational resources available on hand for your salespeople can prove very useful for directly interfacing with customers. There will be situations where your workers won’t have the answers to complicated inquiries, so they can easily refer to the bite-sized courses on their mobile devices for help, instead of leaving customers unsatisfied without solutions.
3. Simulate Scenarios
The flexibility of eLearning extends to interactivity. You can include course simulations depicting real-life scenarios where your employees can practice and demonstrate their product knowledge. It can work as both a training programme where learners can make mistakes without consequence, and as an assessment tool to gauge how much of the training they have internalised.
Living in the “new normal,” simulating a scenario through VR or teleconferencing will not be that far off from live customer interactions. Take advantage of these technologies today, as the world shifts toward online experiences. There are nuances to the social dynamics at play when there are layers of virtualisation to go through, whether it’s dealing with a frustrated customer through live chat or finalising a deal with a client via voice call.
4. Include Case Studies
Go one step further than scenarios and use historical data from your company’s successes as part of your online product training. Results that have been proven to be achievable in the real world are much more convincing to learners, as they can see the practicality and relevance of the courses they are taking.
Case studies also let your employees see from the perspective of your company’s target audience. Along with their fundamental understanding of your products, learners can then develop better ways of selling products knowing what customers need.
5. Integrate Multimedia
One of the biggest detriments to learning and development is creating boring courses. While the text will probably still be the primary way of communicating facts and skills to learners, solely relying on it for your eLearning courses can lead to unengaging material. Include videos, infographics, and podcasts into your product training modules to make learning more engaging.
Explainer videos are perfect for succinctly showing how to use a product properly, which can be useful for both in-house training and for customer training. Infographics distill complex ideas into a digestible and visually interesting form. A short 5 to 10 minute podcast supplementing a course can act as a good refresher that employees can listen to before doing a product demo.
6. Curate Supplementary Online Resources
There will be employees who are inclined to learn as much as they can, completing training courses much faster and more easily than their coworkers. Nurture this natural tendency for learning with additional educational materials. Make a list of related eLearning courses as well as external information such as articles, slide presentations, and YouTube videos. Carefully curate these to ensure they are relevant to product training.
Having supplementary resources that are easily accessible online supports high-performers within your organisation, leading to even greater results. Even learners who have trouble with training can benefit, as the extra information can provide more context to their in-house training.
7. Drive Competition through Gamification
Inspiring friendly competition between employees can result in improved performance from each one as it gives them the impetus to be better at what they are doing. Gamifying your eLearning modules is the best way to foster a competitive nature in your workforce. Considering how most young adults are already familiar with gaming elements, having such features baked into your product training courses will feel second nature to them.
A robust LMS can allow for easy gamification integration. You can award points and badges to employees for completing courses and scoring well on assessments. Set up a leaderboard where people can see how they compare to one another’s performance. For product training-specific gamification, look toward testing their knowledge of product branding, features, and uses.
8. Continual Learning
Product training is not a one-off activity. Courses have to be continually updated, refreshed, and built on to ensure salespeople remain up-to-date with the latest product changes, enhancements, and common customer questions. While updated product specifications and responding to customer inquiries may be learned through on-the-job training, a more effective method is conducting ongoing and follow-up training to instill this knowledge through tracking, managing, and rewarding.
Enhancing Product Training With eLearning
Effective product training isn’t as straightforward as it seems. It often has to be updated from a one-size-fits-all approach with no long-term support to better fit the evolving attitudes of employees and the technologies they use. eLearning is the principal channel for imparting product knowledge, as it can facilitate multiple methods that are both modern and malleable. eLearning can also make it possible to reach international markets and train global distributors.
Develop or improve your training programmes with the help of Wahoo Learning. Our training experts can improve your training strategy, course delivery mechanism and we can even organise a monetisation plan for your training programmes. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.