Product Training with EdApp

Product Training

Time for a quick quiz: When consumers evaluate a product, what is the most important factor they consider?

If you answered “price”, you are right…and wrong.

You see, the research shows that price often goes hand in hand with product knowledge. In other words, what the consumer knows about the product they are considering.

While consumers can get product knowledge from a variety of sources, one of the most ways for consumers to learn about a product is your sales force, and that’s where product training comes in.

For the purposes of this article, we are going to focus on physical products rather than services (which could also be considered products in a sense).

What exactly is product knowledge?

Level 1: about the product

At this level, the information is all about the item. It’s information such as the purpose of the product; how it is manufactured; how it works and gets serviced; what kind of quality control it undergoes; its expected life; its strengths and limitations; how it compares to similar items; and, of course, its price.

Your salespeople need to have all this data at the tip of their tongues.

Product Training with a mobile learning app

Level 2: the consumer-product interaction

Moving up a level, we now need to answer the basic question: “Why should this consumer buy this product and not another one…or nothing at all?”

To answer this question, your sales force needs to be skilled at respectfully finding out information about the consumer they are selling to. 

Using what they find out, your salespeople pick and choose the Level 1 product knowledge which is going to satisfy the Level 2 interaction. In other words, making sure that the consumer is educated with the product knowledge which is going to help them make their best decision and not bothering them with product knowledge which is irrelevant to them at the moment.

An example

Consumer A is in the market for an above ground pool. He comes into your store with his three children, all pre-schoolers. 

While Salesperson B could assume that Consumer A wants a “kiddie pool”, she doesn’t. She finds out more. Salesperson B asks about things such as: “How much space is there for the pool? How deep can the pool be? Can it be a frame pool or only an inflatable? Does it need a sun shade of some sort? What about features such as built-in sprinklers?”

Based on Consumer A’s answers—and without consulting a catalogue (or reading the tags connected to the pools like any consumer could do on their own—Salesperson B will offer Consumer A several appropriate choices.

In order to have the needed level of product knowledge and a well-developed consumer fact finding skill set, your sales force is going to need effective product training.

Product Training Microlesson

Step 1: Product knowledge training

Level 1: about the product

Look familiar, right? As we said above, the groundwork is knowing everything there is to know about the product and the competition. In other words, all the facts and figures. Your goal is to make sure that if a consumer asks a question, your salesperson knows the accurate answer on the spot. 

Product knowledge training ideas

  1. Build content-based microlearning modules to effectively communicate product knowledge. Rapid authoring content templates offer you easy and time-friendly methods of sharing this information in a professional and visually interesting way.
  2. Now, have your trainees practice their knowledge in a variety of engaging activities using more rapid authoring templates. As a first step, offer Multiple choice (recognizing the correct answer) and Relationships (matching). Now, make it more difficult with Concepts (using key vocabulary and reinforcing knowledge) and Numbers (making sure the figures stick in their minds) templates. Both of these latter categories require trainees to produce information, not just recognize it. 

Product Training Template Library

Don’t forget to throw in a few product knowledge games for fun!

Level 2: the consumer-product interaction

At this level, a proven method of product training for sales is roleplay. 

While there are online, eLearning suggestions, in my opinion, nothing beats real people. Real people are unpredictable. They don’t always understand things the first (or second or third…) time you explain it to them. They push on our emotional triggers. Roleplaying with a real consumer gives the closest training possible for the “real world”. Here are some suggestions.

Easy roleplay

Q&A – The consumer asks a question, and the salesperson answers it. Anyone in your organization can pose as the consumer. All they need is a list of questions they should ask + the answers (facts & figures) they should receive, so they can check for accuracy of response.

Medium roleplay

Same as above except the consumer presents some kind of challenge. Perhaps they are hard of hearing. Maybe they don’t understand the first time and need several explanations OR they like to repeat everything to make sure they understood it correctly. It could also be that the consumer doesn’t let the salesperson finish answering before they are off to the next question.

Challenging roleplay

This requires a consumer who is as knowledgeable as the sales person. As a result, it is well-suited to two sales people.

The consumer is a know-it-all and finds fault with every answer the salesperson gives. For example: the salesperson gave the wrong information (Consumer: “Really? I thought I read that this mattress is not made from hypo-allergenic material.”) or the salesperson did not give a complete answer (Consumer: “Are you sure? I think this model comes in silver and metallic blue also.”)

roleplay

Just so you know how valuable product training is to your company…

Consider this statistic from an article in the Harvard Business Review: “each hour associates spend on training increases their sales rate by a remarkable 5%” (quoted). Seems like a good investment, right?

I’m in. Let’s go.

You might be interested in our course, Be a Team Player, from EdApp’s free editable content library!

teamwork-retail

Sources
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09571264.2018.1505605
https://www.business.qld.gov.au/running-business/marketing-sales/sales/skills/know-product
https://hbr.org/2017/01/curing-the-addiction-to-growth