Product Training Versus Sales Training – Which Matters Most?
Many of our clients who are moving from selling products to selling more complex solutions struggle with the concept of product training versus sales training. If you really want your sales team to up their game, what kind of training is most effective? Product training versus Sales Training?
While it depends, the short answer is highly targeted sales training.
Two Main Types of Sales Product Training
We have found two main types of sales product training. One that focuses on product features and one that focuses on customer benefits. As my old boss used to say, “Features Tell and Benefits Sell.”
While the two training approaches sound similar, they are completely different. For example, over 35 million beds are purchased each year. The sales reps that outperform their peers do not only share the commoditized features of the bed (e.g. firmness, size or price); they sell the customer benefits (a good night’s sleep).
Two Main Types of Sales Training
We have also found two main types of business sales training. One that focuses on fundamental awareness and insight of key sales skills (Check-the-Box) and one that focuses on changing sales behavior and performance (Move-the-Needle).
Success for Check-the-Box sales training is typically measured by levels of participant satisfaction and attendance. Check-the-Box sales training solutions are most often deployed as open-enrollment offerings for individuals and are used to satisfy the basic compliance, health and hygiene learning needs required to attract, develop, engage and retain sales talent.
From an expectations standpoint, Check-the-Box sales training improves awareness and insight. It does not change on-the-job performance. Based upon over 800 sales training projects, well-designed Check-the-Box sales training, without other supporting interventions, will change the on-the-job behavior of 1-in-5 sales reps on average.
Move-the-Needle sales training is treated as a sales change initiative, not a stand-alone sales training event. Because of this, move-the-needle sales training is tied directly to the sales strategy and focuses on the critical few unique sales skills and scenarios that matter most for your unique situation. It then creates high levels of accountability and support through frequent practice, feedback, sales coaching and sales training measurement.
The Bottom Line on Product Training versus Sales Training
Product-based training and selling focuses on the product – what the product can do, how the product works, what the product looks like, and how much the product costs in its different configurations. Solution selling, however, combined with product benefits training focuses on the customer – who the customer is, what problems the customer faces, what issues concern the customer, and how what you have to sell will directly help the customer to be successful.
To navigate toward a more consultative sale, your sales team needs acquire a different set of tools and skills than simply knowing the features of their offering or the soft skill sales basics.
To learn more about improving the performance of your sales team, download The 30 Most Effective Sales Questions to Get Right When Selling Solutions
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