Knowledge is power. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, and it’s as true in Sales as anywhere else. If a salesperson knows their product like the back of their hand, there’s hardly a question or objection they can’t answer and overcome.
That’s why ongoing product knowledge training needs to be a priority in every sales team.
So, today, I’m going to walk you through five key areas you need to focus on for successful product knowledge training so your reps can start winning more deals.
The Pitfalls of Poor (or no) Product Knowledge Training
Product knowledge may seem like something that shouldn’t need formal training. After all, shouldn’t your sales reps be doing research and gathering that information themselves?
And while some more enterprising reps will go out on their own to do this extra work and research, not everyone will — not to mention the problems caused by a rep giving a customer inaccurate information by mistake.
And there are many other pitfalls associated with poor (or no) training as well. For example,
Stalled sales cycle: Without the necessary training, your reps will struggle to answer questions quickly and accurately. They can’t provide the necessary information on the product., and so they’ll struggle to instill confidence in the prospect.
All of this will slow your sales cycle to a crawl.
Slow to change their approach: Without training, sales reps tend to settle into a routine and cling to it with all their might. That’s not a good thing when new product features are available.
A dedicated training program helps reps confidently adjust their strategy based on new features and developments.
Onboarding hiccups: There’s more to onboarding a sales rep than meets the eye. Without well-designed product training, onboarding can take longer than necessary, costing everyone time and money.
Fortunately, ongoing, high-quality training can prevent these issues. According to Zety, high-performing companies are 2x as likely to provide their sales teams with ongoing training.
So, don’t leave it to chance, give your reps the tools they need to succeed with formal, ongoing, product training.
What Should I Include in My Training?
So, now that you’re convinced (I hope), a few more questions likely start itching at the back of your mind.
What should I include in the training?
Do I update my reps every week on every little detail about every product or service we offer?
Do I just give them the highlights?
Where do I start?
And while every company’s product training will differ depending on your product and prospects, there are five essential pieces of information your sales team needs to know about every product to be successful.
In other words, if your product training doesn’t touch on these five areas, you may need to go back to the drawing board.
But I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Let’s dig in.
This is priority number one. If a sales rep doesn’t know the cost of what they’re selling, they’re not going to be successful. Simple as that.
But don’t just stop at teaching your salespeople the number on the tag. There are other details associated with price that are important as well, such as the prospect’s expected ROI.
The more training a salesperson receives on price and ROI, the better chance they have of achieving a high close rate.
Let’s take a look at two examples, and you can tell me which one leaves you itching to buy.
“Our software costs $99/month, or if you pay a year in advance, the total price is $1,000.”
“Our software costs $99/month or $1,000/year if paid in advance. Keep in mind that 90 percent of our customers experience a 50 percent ROI within the first three months of using our software.”
The first shows the sales rep understands the product’s pricing structure, but it doesn’t really push the prospect forward and compel them to buy.
The second is the same basic approach, but the added details about ROI make it far more enticing.
How the Product Works
“I can sell anything. I don’t even need to know how it works.”
You’ve probably heard at least one salesperson say this.
And while it may be true to a certain degree, top-performing sales reps know to use every feature of the product they’re selling to their advantage. And this knowledge comes with training, first-hand experience, repetition, and good old-fashion homework.
A sales rep should be able to give a demo without notice. They should have case studies available to back up their claims. And they should have real-life experience with the product.
Without training, they may understand the basics, but they won’t have knowledge of the finer details of the product — like the experience of using it, little tricks to make it work better, or common mistakes to watch out for.
This level of knowledge is often what separates top performers from the rest.
No one should know the product better than the people selling it. This includes the good AND the bad.
As I just mentioned, your reps should have a clear understanding of how your product works, its features, and why customers love it. But they also need to know and receive training on common objections.
These are usually associated with:
- Competing products
- Feature list
- Past experience with the product (or a similar product)
- Lack of need
There will be plenty of objections you can’t prepare for, and your reps need to be able to deal with these on a case by case basis. However, proper training will give them a solid foundation and the confidence to face any objection head-on.
When someone buys your product, they’re often buying an experience, as well.
Sticking with our example from above, a sales development representative for a SaaS company is selling a software solution. But in SaaS, the customer support after purchase is just as important as the product itself.
Your sales reps need to be able to answer questions about customer service. For example,
Who do I turn to if I have trouble with the product?
What’s the best way to connect with a customer service agent? Phone, email, live chat?
Do I receive full customer support with my purchase?
Answering these questions confidently and honestly can go a long way towards getting a leg up on the competition and winning the deal. It shows the prospect that they’ll always have someone on their side to provide guidance when they need it.
What’s to Come
The product your company is selling now likely won’t be the same as the product you sell five years from now. And I’m not just talking about your company coming out with something new.
Your products evolve overtime, especially in SaaS. They gain new functionality, new features, and you might even discover entirely new uses for your product or service.
Sales reps aren’t responsible for developing and implementing these new features, but they need to know what’s in the pipeline and when a new product will be available.
For instance, say your company is going to implement enhanced security measures in the near future, and a prospect has security concerns. Your rep is much more likely to win the deal if they know what’s coming down the pipeline and can share that with the prospect.
Equip Your Reps for Success
Don’t send your reps into the field unprepared. Give them the tools they need to succeed by implementing thorough and ongoing product knowledge training.
Training isn’t an unnecessary expense. It’s critical to the success of your entire team.
So don’t wait, and start training your reps today.
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Also published on Medium.