When a sales organization has an opportunity to get their salesforce together in one place, they desperately want to give them product knowledge. This is a very good idea, but it is often executed in a way that makes it more likely that the salesperson will sell product instead of outcomes.
Product knowledge training normally begins with teaching the salesforce about the new features, the things that make it better than the last version. This worked well for Steve Jobs who had a line up of super-sexy products and a market anxiously waiting to beat down the doors to buy them. But for most sales organization, there is no one clamoring to make a purchase.
Features and Benefits
The problem with features is that they are sexy. It’s what makes your product perform better. But when you lead with them, you are teaching the sales force to lead with them. This is what sticks.
As new specs and features are being shared, product knowledge training moves to benefits. What’s the point of features with no benefits? So with each feature, the salesperson is given a list of all of the new performance benefits their customer or client can expect.
But all of this is backwards, and it needs to be through a different lens, a different context. That context is customer problems and outcomes.
Start with Problems and Outcomes
Instead of starting with the product, the features, or the benefits, product knowledge training should begin with a description of the customer’s problems or challenges. It should begin by describing what the customer needs to do now and why they are struggling to do it. Opportunities are only created when a client recognizes a gap, a need. Your product knowledge training should begin by teaching them how to develop the problem and the need.
Once you teach the sales force how to recognize the gap and help their client recognize it, you can teach them the features and benefits that they can apply to that problem. This is how you make product knowledge training effective.