Reimagining Product Training

June 15, 2023 Greg Olson

Reimagining Product Training

From Short-Term Gains to Long-Term Value

Reimagining product education and training is in order. Many product education and training efforts are created with the sole purpose of increasing revenue. While that is certainly a laudable goal it is woefully insufficient to build long term value. Loyalty matters. When customers rave about your brand it isn’t about your revenue seeking behavior. It is about product and service quality and how your brand made customers feel smarter, more empowered, more productive, freed them from some burden, etc.

Your Audience Imagines Product Training Differently

Shift your perspective to see product education and training opportunities from the customers’ perspective. Chances are your company has multiple audiences to consider.

“What other projects have used this product in my area? Can I visit them?” – Curious Architect

“This product looks right for my design. Who can install it? Not me!” – Concerned Prospective Buyer

“Is this as easy to sell as other products with demands on my time?” – Pressured Sales Rep

“I’m having an issue. Do I call the manufacturer or the installer?” – Troubled Owner

Who is the focus of your product education and training program?

Manufacturers may have multiple audiences to keep in mind for product education and training:

  • Direct selling resources
  • Indirect selling resources e.g., channel partners and dealers
  • Architects and those involved in specifying products
  • Building professionals and trades involved in installation
  • Owners who may influence decisions and ultimately are responsible after installation

Members in each audience may be new to your company’s products and services. They may be skilled or unskilled in the specification or installation of your products. And, it is also possible they may be familiar with competing solutions.

Product Education and Training Along the Customer Journey

The most effective product education and training programs take into account various audiences. These education and training programs explore the customer journey, including before the sale, during the selling process, and after the sale. Here are some things to think about at each stage:

Product Training Opportunities Before the Sale

Before the sale, prospective customers need access to informative content about your products and services. What will they find when they search the internet? Will your products show up prominently in search engine results? What is it like to deal with your company’s website using a mobile device? Will they see blog posts and videos and webinars? What about social media channels? Will social media posts and comments provide inspiration and boost the confidence of would-be buyers? Can prospective customers discover testimonials, references, and case studies? Does your company provide product samples or trials to impact buying decisions? This is a sure way for potential customers to assess the quality, functionality, and suitability of your product for their specific needs. What will customers view, download, and share with others? When will these prospective customers surface on your selling radar? Imagine what it must be like to be your customer hearing from your company for the first time.

“Imagine what it must be like to be your customer hearing from your company for the first time.”

Product Training Opportunities During the Selling Process

Product training resources during the selling process are the most straightforward to manufacturers. Product brochures, product catalogs, presentations, webinars, technical specifications, instructional manuals – these can all be useful resources to customers. For those involved in selling, add key features, benefits, positioning, scripts and talking points. To further empower sales reps, provide them with competitive comparisons and sales battlecards to navigate competitive situations and make persuasive arguments during customer interactions. Remember, an investment into product training for sales reps has a multiplier effect. More competent sales reps means more engaged sales reps. That in turn means higher sales productivity and less sales turnover. That is good for customers and for the manufacturers. A better trained and well resourced channel is a higher performing channel.

“A better trained and well resourced channel is a higher performing channel.”

Product Training Opportunities After the Sale

Opportunities to educate customers and sales reps after the sale are the most overlooked. Think Installation and Usage Guides that explain the step-by-step process for installing, using and maintaining your products. Customer forums, review sites, and social media can be sources of rich information to feed your ongoing content strategy. Customer training sessions and workshops can make a difference between a product that is bought and never used and a product that is well understood, purchased and enjoyed thoroughly. Empowering customers and representatives with knowledge and proficiency maximizes the benefits they derive from your products. This is good for your brand reputation. In the event  an issue arises an empowered and satisfied customer will be more forgiving and cooperative as you work through it. Would you enjoy your company’s warranty experience?

What You Have to Gain by Reimagining Product Training

Implementing a comprehensive product education and training program across these stages can:

  • Increase sales including upsell and cross sell opportunities
  • Empower customers and create loyalty
  • Exude a positive brand reputation
  • Bolster competitive advantage

In addition to these benefits, product education and training can expand your market. The built environment is forever changing. New projects are being developed and loyal customers and channel partners may include your products in these new projects.

Action Step: Create a Collateral Map

A Collateral Map shows where each piece of collateral helps across the customer journey?

  • What do you provide to help prospective customers learn about your product, make comparisons, and feel confident in completing their purchase.
  • What resources are available to help customers get started, install the product, put it to use, and maintain it over its expected life?
  • Where will they turn when they have a question, if there is a warranty issue or they want to tell you how wonderful your product is working in their application?

In your collateral map identify the gaps and make a plan to close them.

Let’s Reimagine Your Product Training Together

JUG Team has produced product education materials for building materials suppliers, biotech and life science companies, software, technology, and a range of other industries. Get in touch if you’d like help creating your collateral map and closing product education and training gaps. See JUG Team marketing services.

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    Greg Olson

    Strategic and creative chief marketer working with business leaders to clarify and communicate vision, advance innovative products and services, and build more capable, more profitable enterprises. Agency and client-side experiences in startups, small businesses, nonprofits, and publicly traded Fortune 100 enterprises. Especially adept at creating a clear path forward for products and services that are new to the world. I am passionate about creating a better world.
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