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How to Train a Sales Team on Products: Use Modern Software, Not Old-Fashioned Training Techniques

Traditional product training for enterprise sales organizations and retail employees often includes hour-long training videos, reviewing lengthy recorded calls, reading through documentation, and a bunch of other time-intensive training processes that require your sales reps to absorb and, hopefully, retain product information.

These traditional sales training methods are inadequate for modern sales teams.

Why? Because they all rely on sales professionals having to memorize a ton of product information and recall it days, weeks, or months later. And this fails in modern enterprise companies due to their massive product catalogs and/or a rapidly changing product lineup.

The solution, in our experience, is modern training software that allows sales reps to find and review product information exactly when it’s needed by using techniques like just-in-time learning (reps can look up answers as needed) and microlearning (short lessons for improved knowledge retention).

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • Why traditional training techniques fail.
  • How modern software makes sales reps less reliant on their memory while helping with information retention.
  • How Bigtincan Learning uses the latest in scientific understanding and software to improve knowledge retention and make sales reps less dependent on their memory.

Have any questions abouthow Bigtincan Learning would work for your organization? The best and easiest way to get those questions answered is to book a Bigtincan demo today. 

Traditional Techniques No Longer Offer the Best Results

As we mentioned, traditional product training techniques are time intensive and ineffective at transferring knowledge to team members. In this section, let’s take a deeper look at some of the most popular traditional training techniques and their limitations.

Video Training

Long form video training sessions may provide all the knowledge your team needs, but they present it in the worst possible format for retaining knowledge.

Scientists have measured that participants in a 40-minute lecture only remember about 20% of what they hear. If you look at the graph below, you’ll see that information retention decreases as lecture length increases.

Graph that shows information retention decreases as lecture length increases.And what little information that does get retained will also decrease as time passes, as shown by the well known Ebbinghaus forgetting curve:

Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve over time.

Image Source: iSpring

What does this mean? If you show a forty-minute video describing your new products, your team will, on average, retain 20% of that information right after watching it. Then, within six days, they’ll only be able to recall 25% of that.

That means six days after training, your average participant will only be able to recall 5% of what that video taught.

This is obviously not ideal. Yet this is how almost all product training content goes: Dump all this product information on your sales reps and ask them to remember it forever.

It’s wildly inefficient. So, if your organization or sales manager can find a better way to do this, you’ll have a competitive advantage and higher sales performance by onboarding new hires faster and having better informed sales reps than your competitors.

Role Playing

Role playing simulations allow reps to practice their pitch and value propositions. It also helps them gain confidence.

Coaches can find product areas where their reps are weak and provide training as needed.

Role playing has its place in sales training. In particular, it can be useful for helping identify and fix weak points in a particular rep’s skillset (for example, giving a demo).

But for product training, this technique is inefficient. It requires that any product knowledge learned by a sales rep in role playing be remembered in the future, so it has the same memory limitations discussed above.

Secondly, it takes two people away from active selling. And if you’re scaling these training sessions for an enterprise organization of a thousand plus reps, that down time adds up.

Product Launches

Some organizations use product launches as a way to train a sales team on products. The idea is simply that during the hype of a product launch, everyone on the sales team is focused on the new releasing product and thus absorbs a bunch of information about it.

The rate of retention is better than normal because sales reps are often pushing that new product or product line in sales conversations on and around the launch date. They’ll know how it meets the customer’s needs, pricing, their sales goals, and everything they need for effective sales that close deals.

This approach can work well for organizations with a handful of product launches a year, but if your organization has thousands of SKUs and adds them routinely, this approach simply isn’t practical or effective.

Incentivize Training On Your Existing LMS

Some organizations incentivize training and e-learning by creating money or prize incentives. This approach may increase your sales reps’ training time, but it doesn’t solve the fact that these traditional product training materials aren’t presented in a way that ensures knowledge retention. If the training materials aren’t designed for efficient knowledge transfer, this approach just wastes time and money.

Just-in-time and Microlearning: A Better Way to Train Sales Teams on Products

If all of these traditional training techniques suffer from the same limitations of the “train now, remember later” technique, what’s the solution?

A preview of the Bigtincan platform in action.
The modern solution is to have product info and training materials instantly available to reps at all times. That turns “absorb now, remember later” into “just-in-time” learning and microlearning.

Executing on this requires software that is built to deliver this type of training.

Bigtincan’s approach to sales training does precisely this.

Bigtincan Learning Provides Product Information Right When It’s Needed, Increases Knowledge Retention, and Makes Everyone a Teacher

Bigtincan Learning: Engagement Overview and Highlights

To implement just-in-time learning, you need a system where reps can easily find product specific content (documents, videos, presentations, etc.) wherever they are and whenever they need it.

Here’s a list of Bigtincan Learning features that provide solutions to the training challenges outlined above:

Just-in-time Learning Gives Your Sales Reps the Information They Need Right When They Need It

Imagine your sales rep walking the factory floor with a customer. The customer is preparing for a major CapEx project and wants to know if the products in your catalog fit their requirements.

The conversation steers toward nuts-and-bolts specifics and your sales rep gets thrown off by an unexpected question about the max pressure rating of a compressor. Your rep doesn’t have an answer.

In these cases, your sales rep would jot down a note and have to remember to follow up by email. It’s inefficient but human.

With Bigtincan’s search-based repository, this “failure” is easily overcome. Your rep just needs to pull out their phone and type the question into their Bigtincan app. Bigtincan’s search feature filters through all of your company’s catalogs, training PDFs, and presentations and surfaces an answer—just in time.

And this feature works identically whether online or offline, on mobile or desktop.

Easily find product information with Bigtincan's search.

Bigtincan’s AI-assisted search knows which types of documents your rep needs based on their role and region, surfacing the most relevant content first.

So if your enterprise has a special product catalog for the southwest sales territory, the search would automatically surface documents that apply to that territory.

With Bigtincan’s search-based repository, there’s no need to remember which folder your document is stored in or read through the titles of documents.

Don’t Use Long Form Training, Use Microlearning Instead

Microlearning training modules break up learning into easy to remember segments.

Bigtincan’s training philosophy is built around the concept of microlearning. Microlearning presents product information in 3-5 minute segments, improving information retention.

Since training intervals are short, the brain doesn’t fatigue and can retain more knowledge. This makes microlearning a more efficient use of time and resources.

And best of all, the Bigtincan Learning training platform is designed for mobile training and offline use.

Your sales reps travel a lot. And internet service is not always guaranteed. That’s why Bigtincan designed its platform to support offline use.

And if any documents are edited while your rep is offline, they’ll automatically get updated as soon as your rep’s phone is back in service.

To learn more about Bigtincan Learning and how it incorporates microlearning and mobile-friendly design, read our articles below:

Your Best Salespeople Can Easily Create Training Videos

Salespeople can easily create helpful training videos for their peers.

Imagine your sales leader out in the field. They’re pitching a product and discover a new sales angle or sales process that closes deals. With Bigtincan Learning, they can easily share their new sales skills with the rest of the sales team.

All they need to do is open the app, navigate to the recording feature, and hit record. These videos are surfaced whenever your reps search for that product.

By making knowledge transfer nearly effortless, your team is more likely to replicate successful sales strategies. This will save your team the time and burden of shadowing and reviewing sales calls. And it will ensure that winning strategies never get lost.

Bigtincan Learning Provides All the Traditional LMS Services, Too

A preview of the Bigtincan platform in action.

While we pride ourselves on the ability to innovate and incorporate the latest scientific knowledge into our product offering, we also provide our own take on the more traditional features associated with LMS services, including:

  • Training course guidance
  • Video coaching
  • Content creation
  • Certification and awards programs
  • Discussion forums

Where we differ in these services is that we take a mobile-friendly approach, meaning all of our software works great from your mobile device. Bigtincan Learning makes content creation easy with its intuitive drag and drop functionality.

Our team of engineers can fully tailor the app to meet your organization’s branding needs. To read two case studies on how we transformed and personalized the retail training program for two global brands, read the link below:

Bigtincan Learning Provides Innovative Software to Modernize Product Training

Traditional training methods have long provided the best training available to sales teams. But that’s no longer true. Emerging science on the learning process and software solutions like Bigtincan Learning bring sales and product training into the 21st century.

Have questions about how Bigtincan Learning would work for your organization? The best and easiest way to get those questions answered is to book a Bigtincan demo today.

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