To effectively sell, salespeople need to understand and know what it is they are selling. Know-how and natural sales talent can only take them so far. Product knowledge is what rounds off their efforts.
Good product knowledge is essentially having a full understanding of what it is they are selling – why it’s necessary, what problems it solves, what features it has, and so on. It’s essential for having more engaging and credible conversations. For instance, if a salesperson is asked about a certain feature or function, it’s much better to answer the question in real-time, rather than have to get back to the prospect at a later date.
Salespeople with good product knowledge are more confident with objection handling and questioning.
But how can you improve sales knowledge and make sure it sticks in their mind? Here are nine ways to improve sales knowledge and ensure it stays in their mind during the sales process.
1. Prioritise product practice time: It goes without saying that the more your sales team use the product they are selling, the more comfortable they will be with it. Where possible, the sales team should be using the product or tool, so they have an in-depth understanding of the problems it solves and the use cases. The more they use it, the better they’ll be able to sell it. Time spent playing around with the product should be prioritised to encourage this.
From a product training perspective, this can be encouraged with tutorial videos walking the sales team through how to use the product. You can also add learning sharing sessions for the sales team to share what they’ve learnt.
2. Provide hands-on training: Learning by doing is a key method for improving knowledge. Hands-on training, including task-based homework, is a good way to engage with the sales team and help salespeople put their learnings into practice. Dummy projects are a nice addition to training, so salespeople play the role of the customer and go through the sales process and product.
3. Implement a knowledge base area: A knowledge base, or learning academy, is a great sales enablement resource that essentially captures all the key information, training, and material that the sales team needs. It can be for customers (tutorial style), or internal. Either way, it’s packed full of educational content, fact sheets, product specification documents, user guides and more.
Create a list of all the materials you think would be useful and put them all in one, central place. Then encourage the sales team to use the online library as much as possible. They should see it as a go-to resource for everything. This is particularly useful to direct new hires towards.
4. Aim for consistency: Consistency is king. Training and product knowledge sessions should be a regular occurrence, especially when new features are released. The sales team needs to be fully aware of any changes in the product as and when they happen.
Regular product knowledge sessions work as both a refresher and a method to keep learnings top of mind.
5. Encourage roleplay: Role-playing is a tried and tested method to help salespeople understand what they are selling. The sales team should play both the salesperson and the prospect to cover both roles, and use the role-play to practice scripts, handle objections and answer frequently asked questions.
According to Michael Pici, Director of Sales at HubSpot, here’s the value of roleplaying: “Working through a hypothetical scenario with a team member or coach gives you a low-stakes opportunity to identify your strengths, weaknesses, and stumbling blocks.”
6. Keep it fun with product quizzes: Product training shouldn’t be boring, otherwise engagement will drop. Product knowledge quizzes are a great way to gamify the training and keep the sales team on their toes.
Product quizzes also help the sales team to retain the information they’re learning, as well as provide a measurement metric to managers on how well the sales team understands the product. Offer prizes as incentives to encourage the team.
7. Offer visual resources: Visually engaging resources help capture attention and simplify the messaging. Rather than asking the sales team to read through thousands of words, video and image-led resources often work best. Visual resources make the information more digestible.
Videos and infographics are easily findable, memorable and can be easily referenced.
8. Empower with customer success stories: Encourage your salespeople to sit in on customer success calls, focus groups, or user group meetings. Getting closer to the customer and learning the ‘why’ they purchased the product will help them understand the pains and motivations behind the purchasing decision.
Customer success stories are also a great way to see how your product specifically benefits different types of businesses, which can then be used to target similar businesses.
9. Utilise case studies: The same as above applies to case studies. Case studies highlight the problems before the product and the benefits after, helping to put things into context. Case studies also provide a real-life example of benefits and features in practice.
Additionally, case studies are a great nurturing asset to follow up with prospects, so the more comfortable the sales team gets using them, the better.
Understanding the product is key for strong sales performance. Try the nine tips above to empower your sales team throughout the sales process.