Explore the importance of product knowledge training, its benefits, and strategies to effectively equip teams with in-depth product understanding
A solid grasp of your company's product offer is crucial to its success. But how can you quickly and effectively train your employees on your product? Product knowledge training is the answer.
In this ultimate guide to product knowledge training, we'll cover:
Let's get started.
Product knowledge training is a course designed to give employees a better understanding of the product. This includes educating them on product features, solutions, use cases, and how the product can benefit customers.
Training employees on product knowledge is about providing them with everything they need to know about your product. It applies to all departments inside an organization, including customer support, marketing, recruiting, and sales.
But why should your business focus on expanding your team's knowledge of the product?
Providing your employees with extensive product knowledge is important because it enables them to better support, sell, and market your company's product. This in turn leads to the greater success of your business.
Simply put, employees NEED to understand how your product works. Without product knowledge, they'll have a harder time selling, supporting, and marketing your product.
Here are some other benefits can your business expect to see after delivering a product knowledge training program:
Better overall product knowledge
Product knowledge training sessions provide employees with the ins and outs of your product's features and benefits. Which can greatly improve:
- Sales reps selling abilities
- Customer service support knowledge
- Marketing accuracy and messaging
When your employees are "product experts" they can handle any question or problem thrown their way.
Access to product information
When an employee needs to recall information about a product or service that your organization sells, it can be challenging.
No matter how good an employee's memory is, it’s hard to retain everything they've learned. That’s why adding product information to your learning management system is key.
You can treat your LMS as a knowledge base for product information, giving employees access 24/7.
Reduces costs of training
If you can educate your employees on how your products work, what problems they are solving and how they differ from competitors, you give your company an advantage.
It makes each team member more invested in the company and the key reasons customers should choose your company over another.
The more product knowledge you provide your organization, the less training will cost you in the end.
Helps sales reps with product selling skills
A product knowledge training program helps sales reps build the necessary skills and techniques to properly sell your product.
Coupling product training with your knowledge base or LMS will give sales teams all the information they need on your product at the click of their fingers.
Now your sales team can sell more of your product, close deals, and upsell other products and services your company offers.
Builds long-term relationships with customers
Every company wants satisfied customers. This happens when you have the ideal mix of a fantastic product and, more importantly, a staff with the product knowledge necessary to support and please consumers.
When employees are thoroughly educated on your company's product, they'll have everything they need to be able to help customers with their inquiries.
This leads to faster ticket resolutions, higher customer satisfaction rates, and better net promoter scores.
Your customers will now view your company as trustworthy, reliable, and knowledgeable leading to long-term relationships.
To maximize training effectiveness, each department will require custom objectives and segmented courses.
That's because team members of these departments are focused on different aspects of how customers view, engage, and interact with the product.
We'll cover the product training objectives by department:
Product training objectives for human resources
The objective of training HR members on your product is to ensure the HR department has a basic understanding of it and its benefits to customers.
The first point of contact when new hires join a company is the HR department. Make sure your HR team members understand how the product works, the core solutions, and why customers value it.
When your HR department can explain the product during interviews and onboarding, it'll give new hires the information they need to get started.
Product knowledge training should be included in the new hire onboarding process.
Product training objectives for engineers
The product training objectives for engineers revolve around the details of how it works, which include:
- Coding languages used to build the product
- Quality assurance processes for testing and pushing changes
- Upcoming features they need to create
- Ensuring the product runs smoothly
When engineers receive training on how the product works they can help create new features, fix problems, and further improve the software.
Product training objectives for marketing
When training marketers on your product the goal is to highlight essential talking points, target audience, features, benefits, and how it stands out from competitors.
This team's primary goal for a product is to spread brand awareness, reach the target audience, generate quality leads for the sales team, address customer pain points, and create quality content that messages the product effectively.
Marketers with extensive knowledge of the software can better promote the product on multiple online channels and generate leads for the sales team.
Product training objectives for sales reps
The objective here is to provide sales reps with important information about the product's price, ROI, usage, roadmap, and customer success stories.
Your sales teams are here to do one thing: sell your product. Effective product knowledge training programs can provide sales reps with the critical information they need to know in order to close more deals and generate revenue for your business.
The more they know about the product, the more confidence they will have in selling the product. This in turn will help sales reps communicate better, overcome sales obstacles, demonstrate expertise, and actually sell the product. You can also use a sales aptitude test to assess their ability to navigate everyday sales scenarios they might find themselves in.
Product training objective for customer service
To properly train your customer-facing team about the product, the objectives are:
- How to fix problems users might come across
- Integrations the product has with other tools
- Answering frequently asked questions
- Using the product correctly
Once your service or support teams are fully trained on your product, they'll be able to further assist customers in using the product effectively with little to no problems.
Product training objectives for customers
External users like customers need product training just as much as internal employees. The objective is to onboard, educate, and share best practices on using the product.
These external members need to be able to effectively use, navigate, and promote the software. Doing so enables them to train themselves and their coworkers who are logged into the tool.
Customers who are properly trained reduce the number of inquiries that your customer-facing employees need to handle. Plus, they can get the most out of the product while feeling it was a solid investment for their business.
Depending on your company's setup, you might have to administer different types of product knowledge training sessions.
Some examples of product knowledge sessions include:
Online training and product demos
With the majority of workforces going remote, online training has become the norm when developing employees' skills and knowledge.
This is especially the case with SaaS companies that have built software to solve a specific problem -- whether for businesses (B2B) or customers (B2C).
Luckily, with a modern learning management system like Continu, companies can create online training programs to showcase the intricacies of their products through:
- Interactive demos
- Virtual instructor-led workshops
- Slides and presentations
Online training is a great way to provide sales, marketing, customer service, HR, and even customers with the information they need to know about your product.
In-person instructor-led product training
If your employees are working in-office, you can set up in-person training with the help of an instructor. The instructor can be anyone from a seasoned employee, the VP of Product, an engineer, or even a standard manager.
Whoever you choose to administer product knowledge training needs to be incredibly familiar with the product.
An in-person training session is very easy to manage as the employees are already at the location and in the same time zone. However, its drawback is the fact you're cutting time out of their work schedule to do this.
Implementing a product knowledge training program allows organizations to educate, assess, and measure the impact product training sessions had on employees.
In order to do so, you'll need to develop a learning track dedicated to expanding employee knowledge of your product.
An easy way to begin creating your product knowledge training plan is by following these steps:
- Determine who needs product training
- Set learning objectives around product knowledge
- Create bite-sized product training materials
- Upload product information into a knowledge base
- Combine materials into a complete product eLearning course
- Assess and improve the product knowledge training program
1. Determine who needs product training
The first step in creating a training program to expand product knowledge is figuring out who needs to learn. One way to do so is with a skills gap analysis, where you assess the current skills of employees and see which ones are lacking in their product knowledge.
Obviously, new employees need to be trained on your product from the beginning and it's a great idea to incorporate this into their onboarding process.
2. Set learning objectives around product knowledge
The next step in educating employees on your product is to develop S.M.A.R.T learning objectives that align with business goals. Simply put, list out the expectations and outcomes that this product training program and its impact on your business.
Some examples of product knowledge learning objectives could be:
- Sales reps create ideal pricing tiers and talking points for demos
- Marketers will learn which features and solutions fuel lead-generation
- Customer support understands solutions to common software problems
Create bite-sized product training materials
Take each module, feature, or aspect of your product and turn it into a bite-size chunk of learning material. Assign each object individually so learners can quickly understand and complete the training in shorter bursts.
This makes it easier to deliver, track, and measure the results of training while improving completion rates and learner retention.
Upload product information into a knowledge base
Since your product training sessions were broken down into smaller pieces, you can upload them into your LMS or knowledge base.
This gives sales reps, marketers, and customer-facing team members quick access to all the information they need to know about your product.
Combine materials into a complete product eLearning course
You already have the subject matter broken down into subtopics, now you can actually combine it all together into a single online course about your product.
Creating a certification for this eLearning course will ensure all learners are now certified experts on your product.
Assess and improve the product knowledge training program
Even if you have a training program in place for your products or services, it’s hard to know how effective it is.
After you begin rolling out the new training, you can use reports and feedback from both employees and managers to figure out what’s working and what’s not.
Use this learner feedback to optimize the learning track to ensure it's effective.
Once you have a plan in place, it’s time to decide what type of training works best for product knowledge retention. There are a few techniques that work well with this type of training.
Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your product knowledge training:
- Scenario-based training
- Just-in-time training
- Bite-sized learning
- Videos and mixed media
- Refresher training
- Cross-department collaboration
- Case studies
- Film reviews
1. Scenario-based training
The best way to learn about new products is to act as if you are using them. In other words, use different scenarios to teach employees about the various products or services you sell.
You can even ask customer service what common questions they receive and then have employees role-play through these scenarios.
Not only will they learn your product line better, but they will be more empathetic toward customer needs.
2. Just-in-time training
Just-in-time training is training when you need it most. Since learning happens at scheduled times, it’s hard to recall on the spot what you have learned months or even weeks earlier.
Often a sales member is out in the field and needs a product answer immediately. This doesn’t require an entire training course but rather a quick lookup of that key piece of information.
3. Microlearning models
Microlearning allows instructors to split learning into smaller segments. The reason this training works well for product knowledge is it helps employees process and retain information better.
This is especially important if you have complex products to understand.
4. Videos and mixed media
Product knowledge training can become mundane and repetitive especially if you have similar products. One way to keep it fresh and interesting is by adding multimedia.
This could be anything from short training videos or infographics to short webinars.
5. Refresher training
Research shows that 70 percent of what employees learn in formal training programs is forgotten one day after the training is completed. And even worse, this number increases to 90 percent being forgotten within 30 days of training.
So the best way to counteract this is through refresher training. By adding courses throughout the year for product knowledge training, you reinforce key points. Plus, new questions may come up from customers or new products rolled out.
With refresher courses, you can always account for these situations.
6. Cross-department collaboration
Every department deals with customers either indirectly or directly. Pull these managers together and ask what training employees need on your products or services. You will gain different perspectives that are valuable in different ways.
For example, customer service may mention products that are difficult to use. And programming may mention software update glitches. The more brainstorming you can do on your product knowledge training, the more robust it will become.
7. Case studies
Examples are helpful when understanding products. That’s why case studies are a great way to demonstrate important features and tools.
The other aspect of case studies is they are not only learning tools but can become marketing tools as well.
Sales team members can use case studies to gain new customers so case studies created either for marketing purposes or training purposes can be repurposed for both situations.
8. Film reviews
A film review is having employees listen to actual sales calls between customers and employees. Then, the learners provide feedback or comments as they hear the entire conversation.
This helps with the learning process. Employees can hear questions, concerns or comments about products from actual customers. Plus, they can hear the responses given by actual customer service representatives.
As you begin to develop your product knowledge training program, it’s a good idea to keep a few best practices top of mind.
Here are a few tips for product knowledge training:
1. Be consistent
As we’ve said, product training is meant for every employee in your organization. Not only sales or customer service can benefit from it. So be consistent with your training.
While different aspects of the training will differ based on department or team, the general product information needs to stay the same. Using a learning management system is a great way to ensure this.
2. Keep it simple
Products can be complex and the way employees learn differently from one another. So keep your training simple and broken down into bite-size chunks of content.
Delivering training in smaller pieces is a great way to reduce the cost of training employees, as they'll only have to do it once and retain the necessary information.
It also needs to be simple for managers and admins who are responsible for assigning the training.
3. Make it scalable
If you don’t have much product knowledge training in place, it will take some time to build up your program. However, you should make it scalable from the start. That way, it’s easy to add courses as needed over time.
In addition, if your company grows or expands to different time zones, you’ll need to keep this in mind. A flexible system like an LMS can help you scale your course offerings or grow your company size.
4. Automate the process
By housing your training program in an online format, you better automate the product training process. It’s a lot easier to build out product knowledge training when you have courses organized.
Plus, you can keep track of which employees have taken the training and new employees who need to be onboarded. And it helps remind employees who have yet to take assigned courses in a given time period.
Training employees on your product can be a difficult process without the right tools. Plus, it's an incredibly important aspect of running a SaaS organization.
That's where a modern learning platform like Continu comes in handy. Continu makes it super easy for admins, L&D professionals, and instructors to:
- Develop effective product knowledge training courses with powerful eLearning authoring tools
- Centralize all learning and development within a single platform
- Track and measure employee training progress
- Create quizzes and assessments to test product knowledge
- Host virtual ILT product workshops with Zoom attendance tracking
- Generate detailed learner reports with data and analytics