The other day, my friend Kelley Robertson wrote an outstanding article: Is Your Sales Training Putting Your Sales Team At Risk? The article prompted me to think about: Why is product and sales training separated? What would happen if we integrated our sales methodologies and training into our product training?
Companies invest lots of time and money in developing product training with every new product they launch. Usually, this training focuses on training the sales person on the product features, functions, speeds and feeds. Often, it includes competitive positioning, sometimes it includes elementary objection handling. Usually the training focuses on what the product is and what it does. Sometimes it addresses how it should be sold. However, in our experience, it seldom incorporates the processes, methods and approaches introduced in sales training sessions. There is a tremendous opportunity to accelerate the launch results and to reinforce investments in sales training by incorporating sales training into the product training.
Much sales training is oriented around certain processes (ideally, the vendor has adopted their methodology to the organization’s selling process—if not, well that’s a different post). As you develop your product training, incorporate this process into the product training. For example, in qualification, what are the target markets, customers, individuals within the customers for this product? What are we looking for to qualify whether this product will be a potential solution for them? Who should we be talking to and what should we be talking to them about? In discovery, what are the needs, problems, issues we address with this product? How do we question and probe to determine whether the product is a good fit for the customer? How do we determine if our product produces value for the customer? In presenting the solution, how do we best position this product to address the needs, priorities and requirements we identified? Leverage what you have learned in developing, communicating and delivering value into developing and communicating the value of this product. Use what you have learned in putting together a justified business proposal. If you’ve had training in objection handling, how do you use that approach in handling objections customers might have with this product? If you’ve had training in negotiation, how do you leverage this with the new product? I could go on, but I’ll stop here.
It’s such a simple step–merging the sales methods into the product introduction, but few organizations do this. But if your sales people are already trained in this sales methodology, wouldn’t leveraging this accelerate the launch and improve sales success? Wouldn’t doing this reinforce the sales training and continue to build skills and capability in execution? We’ve seen tremendous results with dozens of clients. Leveraging their experience base and the sales training they have already had, accelerates their understanding of the product and how to be successful in selling it. It establishes a tight connection between what they’ve already learned and practiced, building on that strong base.
To maximize the results you get both from product training and sales training, eliminate the gap between them.