When You Can Only Pick One

There seems to be a resurgence in product training among a lot of the sales organizations around the country and I wanted to dive deeper and learn more about this.

Take a moment and think about the training that you received when you started a sales position. I remember some of the first training that I ever received from a manufacturer was focused all around the product. I was in my early 20’s with no sales experience, but I was sent to the manufacturer and indoctrinated with features of their product. After days of training, they felt like they had won and all I felt was overwhelmed.

The hard thing was to take that information that was I was given and put it into words that the prospect I was sitting in front of would understand. As a young and impressionable sales novice, I took the knowledge that I had accumulated and used it as a tool to show the world that I was knowledgeable. I had no sales skills, other than what I learned on the playground in grade school! “But who needed sales skills when you have product knowledge, “I thought to myself.

It was evident by some of the epic failures that I had early on in my career that product knowledge was not enough. As I have matured and now train sales professionals, I have been confronted with this common question, “What is more important, sales training or product training?” So, I wanted to lay out my thoughts on this and bring some clarity to the issue for those that question the validity of sales training.

Here are thoughts of product training:

  1. Explains the features of what you sell.

  2. Learn the “nuts and bolts” of the product.

  3. Find out what the products and/or services cost.

  4. Since the products tend to change quickly, the training needs to be done regularly and is obsolete quickly.

  5. Your prospect tends to know the products better since the advent of the Internet.

  6. Becomes the crutch for the weaker salespeople, when confronted with a savvy buyer.

  7. Learn the problems that your product is intended to solve.

Here are the thoughts on sales training:

  1. Sales training is the foundation of a solid sales professional. The product training is the structure above.

  2. A good foundation will withstand whatever is built on it above.

  3. The product and/or service will change, but the cornerstone principles will not change.

  4. The goal of a sales professional is not to recite the product knowledge, but rather uncover the prospects pains as to why they need what you have.

  5. Sales training will help you establish a budget with the prospect, rather than tell them how much it costs, we learn how much they have to spend.

  6. You will learn how the prospects decision making process is done.

  7. You will get in front of qualified prospects more effectively.

  8. Improves communication –