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.”
1. Product Features Tell
Sales product training that focuses on features outlines what your products can do. Salespeople should know the basics of what they are selling. But customers, especially for complex and solution-based sales, frequently report being unable to determine why a particular feature or function is meaningful to them or different from the competition.
2. Product Benefits Sell
Product benefits create meaning and relevancy. While buyers tell us that they initially have little interest in learning about product features, they are highly motivated to understand what the product can specifically do for them. In a nutshell, product benefits training ties your product features directly to something important (better, faster or cheaper) to the customer.
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).
1. Check-the-Box Sales Training
Check-the-Box business sales training seeks to improve the awareness and insight of specific sales skills and knowledge in areas such as qualifying opportunities, recommending and guiding solutions, presenting options, negotiating and closing, coaching sales reps, planning for major accounts, etc. 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.
2. Move-the-Needle Sales Training
Move-the-Needle sales training aims to improve the 1-in-5 average by improving explicitly identified sales behaviors and increasing targeted sales performance. Success is typically measured by the adoption rate of new sales skills and behaviors combined with the corresponding lift in revenue, margin, win rate, portfolio mix, deal size or sales cycle.
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…
Solution selling, however, combined with product benefits training focuses on the customer…
To navigate toward a more consultative sale, your sales team needs understand Product Training versus Sales Training to better 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 Sales Questions More Important Than Budget
How to Better Handle Office Politics
How to Ensure Smart Talent Management
We value our relationship with LSA Global. We came to LSA because we wanted to improve overall behavioral based interviewing capabilities of our managers to increase the probability of both hiring top talent and future leaders. LSA designed a highly customized solution for our business and culture. We are currently rolling out this solution to our leaders. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource.
HR Project Manager - Training & Development, PHR
LSA has become the gold standard in team building and management training at Genomic Health! I have a hard time finding facilitators that come close to their level of customization, expertise and experience.
Director of Human Resources
Over the years, both at 3Com and now at Redback, I’ve found LSA Global to be a valuable resource. The recent compliance program that they delivered for Redback’s executive and management team was the right solution, of the highest of quality, and customized to our business and culture. I would highly recommend LSA to any company looking for top quality solutions.
Vice President of Human Resources
Our company engaged LSA to do a specialized “train the trainer” program, and the consultant’s performance outdid our exceptionally high standards for such a program. Very crucial to the success of this program was the work done upfront to discuss our needs and to interview key members of our organization so that the program specifically met our goals. Our facilitators continue to comment on the success of the program. Thanks also for the follow-up.
Chief Financial Officer
We engaged LSA to design and deliver a 6-month custom executive coaching program for a group of our key leaders. The focus of the program was to help a core group of senior leaders to leverage previous investments in management training, to ensure the engagement and retention of key employees, and to push critical strategic initiatives forward. Even with the high expectations of our senior people, LSA has completely exceeded our expectations. I would recommend them to anyone looking to create and implement a custom coaching methodology using proven tools to drive true change.
Senior HR Manager - Staffing, Training, & Development
We contacted LSA to help us with customized management development. LSA worked with me to identify a solution that would meet our exact needs. We decided to start at the top and ran the program for our executive team. It was such a great success that we hope to roll it out companywide. We look forward to a long-term partnership with LSA Global and their team of experts.
Barry L. Byrd, SPHR
Human Resources Manager
I had been working with LSA for many years with my prior company. Currently, I’m with a company who hadn’t done much basic management skills training. After identifying and presenting a program recently, our managers are excited and talking in the halls about the great experience. LSA saves us time in delivering the right training for our needs.
Here’s a token of my appreciation for ALL your efforts. I’m offering my most sincere appreciation, and it extends to all the folks who made our customized management development programs possible.
Workforce Planning Bureau
LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.
Margaret M. Mader
Vice President, Human Resources
We partnered with LSA Global to help us invest in our people in the areas of performance coaching, diversity, and inclusion. They focused on helping us succeed and were very flexible in meeting our specific needs. LSA Global exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and value standpoint. I would recommend LSA Global to anyone looking for a true business partner.
Director, Human Resources
What a personal and professional pleasure it has been to Partner with LSA. They are truly a strategic partner with Wyse. For more than 5 years, LSA has been engaged in delivering various training and development solutions for Wyse, from custom on-site programs targeting specific core competencies, to working individually with clients to build job skills, and offering invaluable services to me and my team as we continue to build our learning programs. LSA’s representatives do more than sell a product, they offer a full service solution: they understand our business, our strategic initiatives, and the needs of our customers.
Director of HR
Working with LSA Global has proven to be extremely valuable and worthwhile. LSA understands our business, has deep expertise in content areas, and tailors the programs to deliver great results. The facilitator was extremely knowledgeable about Working Globally with India and her energy and passion made the session interesting, fun, and enjoyable for all that attended. The participants walked away extremely pleased along with highly useful practices and tools. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company that has partners or offices in India.
Human Resources Business Partner
“We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a leadership and management development curriculum to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution.”
VP Human Resources
We recently partnered with LSA Global to offer our Supervisors and Managers a customized two-day management training program. Everyone who attended said it was by far the best management training program they had ever attended. The content was rich and highly interactive. The case studies were relevant. Each participant walked away from the training much better equipped to lead their teams.
Director of Human Resources
In the Next Generation Management Development courses, I was trained with skills and tools that have made me and my team more productive, motivated, and successful at communicating with other departments.
Firmware Engineering Supervisor
Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.
Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations? Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.
Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.
First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.
Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.
Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.