How to modernize your sales team’s product training practices

Posted by:
Stewart White

Is it hard for your team to keep up with ever-changing product offerings? Gaps in traditional sales training methods could be preventing your sales team from maximizing its selling potential. Use software for better, faster sales training.

Understanding the problem

Here’s a familiar scenario. You have a well-established sales training program in place, but it relies heavily on “classical” materials and techniques such as lengthy videos, old call recordings, detailed documents, and of course, memorization. It’s a fleshed out program with a fairly solid track record, but your team feels that the benefits of training begin to wane after some time. The problem is - your company’s offerings are changing faster than before. And that means product knowledge acquired during sales training is becoming outdated more and more quickly. Your team is struggling to keep up with the latest intel, and sales reps find it is redundant to constantly learn (and unlearn) information. What’s the fix?

Critically assessing traditional learning methods

Videos and recordings are a staple of most sales training programs, with good reason. Incorporating visual components in training materials is a training method attractive to sales reps and leaders alike for its ability to convey a lot of information in one contained unit. But relying on this format heavily for product training can be pretty detrimental to long-term information retainment, especially since it provides a false sense of confidence to learners. The issue with training videos (especially lengthy ones) is that even if reps understand and process themes as they watch the video, they will only be able to recall a small percentage of the content after a few days, and even after a few hours. It’s pretty clear that digesting and mastering the huge amount of new information contained in videos is unrealistic for the majority of new hires.

A similar issue occurs with the use of role playing exercises for product training. Role playing is a helpful way to support young sales reps as they become more confident sellers because it helps them identify and correct weaknesses in their delivery. But if your team depends mainly on human input for these exercises, this training practice can be hard to scale across a large team, and unrecorded feedback can be easily forgotten.

Another important component of traditional sales training that should be assessed is how sales enablement content is being created, updated, and utilized at your organization. Sales enablement materials used in product training can quickly become outdated as old products are refined and new products are rolled out. But keeping your team’s sales enablement content up-to-date is a responsibility that is integral to proper product training. This is particularly important for companies where it is standard to have frequent and regular product launches. Unfortunately, archaic means of updating and sharing information can lead to outcomes where teams fail to keep training content current. How can you ensure sales reps have access to content that is reflective of your organization’s diverse products and services? And more broadly, what are some ways your team can concretely adapt traditional training methods and tools to modern challenges?

The benefits of micro-learning and adopting sales training software

A product training strategy that combines micro-learning methods with the latest sales training software can help your team take on the challenge of updating your training methods to better fit a hyper-dynamic product context. Micro-learning reduces the length and amount of content per lesson, alleviating learning-induced weariness and improving long-term training outcomes. There are many simple ways to incorporate micro-learning techniques into your program. Coaches can start by breaking up lessons and videos into shorter segments to make them easier to remember and reference. A good rule of thumb is to keep videos under five minutes to make sure they capture learner attention for the duration of the lesson. Another micro-learning tenet is to adopt a mindset of constant knowledge acquisition - and harness that knowledge exactly when its needed. Training should not just consist of a few weeks of memorization at the onset of a sales rep’s career, but rather should arm reps with the tools they need to access relevant intel and work on new skills throughout their professional lives. This segmented style of learning addresses the issue of how to constantly accommodate new product information into training lessons, making it better suited to product training purposes than a traditional front-loading approach.

Because micro-learning is all about making information timely and accessible, these practices are best carried out with the help of technology. Here is where training software comes into the picture. Sales training software is there to help make training as strategic and personalized as possible for each rep. Attention, for example, is an AI-powered sales training program that tracks performance to help sales reps evaluate their progress over time. Having performance data helps sales reps identify specific weak areas and reinforce skills in a targeted manner. Training software like Attention also offers immediate, tailored feedback to reps based on particular challenges during real-life sales conversations. This software addresses the issues around role-playing mentioned earlier; live coaching features combined with recorded sessions ensure that old mistakes are not made and forgotten on a regular basis.

Sales training software also serves to make key takeaways readily accessible. For example, Attention allows teams to access sales battlecards with information relevant to live calls using voice-activated cues. Of course, it’s necessary to keep your battlecards updated with the latest product information. Sharing the responsibility (and initiative) of creating winning battlecards between your marketing and sales team can help raise the quality of your sales enablement materials and ultimately result in better product training outcomes.

To sum up, training practices that teams have long depended on are no longer sufficient in today’s quick-paced sales environment. Whatever the challenges your particular program is facing, Attention is there to guide your sales reps along every step of their sales training journey. Give Attention a try to start seeing results in just a few weeks.