November 25, 2019

How to Build an Effective Sales Knowledge Program for Technology Products

Article

They say knowledge is power – and as a VAR or ISO, sales knowledge is a big part of what powers your business. The better your sales team knows the products they’re selling, the more easily they’ll be able to communicate key benefits and drive sales.

Unfortunately, many VAR sales teams are ill-equipped to discuss the intricate details of technology products. This is especially true for VARs and ISOs that focus on brick-and-mortar and retail tech, where an understanding of integrations and specifications is essential to making a sale. 

In this post, we focus on how VARs, ISOs, and retail tech companies building their own workforce can create a better sales knowledge program to turn sales reps into tech product experts and win more sales.

Sell Smarter, Not Harder: The Power of Product Knowledge in VAR Sales

Building a detailed sales knowledge program and product knowledge base enables your sales reps to sell retail tech products with mastery of a wide range of complicated and interconnected devices and services.

Remember, greater product knowledge equals greater sales power. That is, you can sell something more effectively when you understand it more in-depth. More specifically, a deeper understanding of product knowledge leads to more sales because it empowers your sales team to:

  • Tailor every sales pitch effectively. Different customers will care about different features and benefits. The 80/20 rule suggests that 80% of customers only use 20% of a product’s total features. While this ratio isn’t always accurate, the principle reminds us that sales teams need to take special care in recognizing which features apply to which use cases and customer types. This allows sales reps to sell each customer on how the product will improve their situation or solve a specific problem for them. 
  • Grow your customer base more quickly. Because sales knowledge creates stronger pitches, it helps sales reps connect with customers, truly understand their needs, and close more deals than ever. By equipping your team with detailed product information and sales knowledge, you can help them identify potential customers more effectively, home in on prospects’ needs, and close more deals.
  • Increase revenue from existing customers. An informed sales team is able to secure more new customers and recognize cross-selling opportunities to increase revenue from existing customers.
  • Shorten the sales cycle and sell faster. Certain tech products will have naturally longer sales cycles – and that’s fine. But the faster your reps can close the average deal, the more sales your team can make within a given period. How does sales knowledge help make this possible? A sales rep who fully understands the product is better positioned to highlight benefits and address customer objections and concerns – and thus, finalize the deal more quickly. 

How to Train Your Sales Team on Tech Product Knowledge 

Now that we’ve established that sales teams are more successful when they know a product inside and out, let’s talk about how to put it into practice. 

For many VAR, ISO, and retail tech sales teams, one of the biggest challenges is the pure volume of product knowledge they need to conquer. Since VARs typically provide a variety of technology solutions for a range of customer types, it can be particularly difficult for VAR sales reps to absorb and retain so much product knowledge. This is where a sales knowledge training program comes in.

Develop a Defined Sales Knowledge Training Program

Your sales team members need to quickly become experts on every single product you offer, but product and sales knowledge isn’t always easy to pick up. So, in order to set new and veteran sales team members up for success, VAR and ISO sales management needs to build a sales knowledge program that arms reps with in-depth, valuable product knowledge. 

One of the keys to creating an effective sales training program is to go beyond sales knowledge by training and testing for sales fluency

Build and Train for Sales and Product Fluency

True sales knowledge fluency means having a grasp of not only product knowledge, but of all the moving parts that contribute to sales fluency for VAR sales reps. Namely, sales knowledge training should provide sales reps with detailed knowledge about the technology products being sold, the industry at large, the customer and target audience, and product-specific sales training.

1. Product knowledge

Product fluency is a big component of overall sales fluency. It’s vital that your sales reps can speak confidently and knowledgeably about the products they’re selling. The better the sales team understands the products, the more effectively they can sell prospects on the benefits.

Training for product fluency means ensuring your sales reps develop a working understanding of the technology products being sold, including product specs, core features, relevant benefits, and potential use cases.

2. Industry Knowledge

It’s not enough to know the basics of each product in isolation. VAR sales reps must be able to explain how products interact within the tech ecosystem and why a particular product is the best option in a given scenario.

When sales reps understand the industry landscape, they’re better equipped to address questions about competitors and the strengths and weaknesses of different tech products. The more context and knowledge your team has available to them, the more effectively they can demonstrate value and communicate how tech solutions work fit together to serve customer needs.

3. Customer information

Customers expect sales representatives to add real value to the buying process. In order to meet those expectations, VAR sales teams need to understand who their customers are and what they care about. 

So, your sales knowledge training program should also educate reps about your target market, customer personas, and how a customer will use the product. Ensure your program addresses the following questions: Who are we selling to? What do they care about? What is the primary use case for this product? Which benefits matter most to a specific type of user?

Not only will this allow your reps to sell more effectively, but it will also lead to stronger customer relationships – which comes with a whole host of additional benefits. For instance, customer relationships built on trust create opportunities to understand your users on a deeper level, which can uncover insights about customer motivations that allow reps to tailor sales pitches, sell more confidently, and even reduce churn.

4. The sales process

Though it takes more than an ability to sell to gain new customers, sales acumen certainly is part of the formula. That’s why any sales knowledge training program should include an overview of your team’s sales process, including the stages of your sales funnel and what steps can be taken to overcome objections and move a customer through the funnel efficiently. Furthermore, your training program should introduce and onboard reps to any tools or technology your business uses to track lead progression. 

(If your sales team doesn’t already have a defined sales process, now’s the time to standardize the steps and stages of your sales cycle.)

Building a Better Sales Knowledge Program with Technology

Whether you’re hiring new sales reps and introducing new product offerings, building a comprehensive sales knowledge base makes it easier than ever to share product knowledge with your entire sales team.

The Benefits of Using Technology to Create Your sales Knowledge Program

There are a few of the reasons a sales knowledge program is best when built with support from the right technology. Creating a knowledge base powered by technology allows you to:

  • Build, launch and manage your program more easily. An effective sales knowledge training program should be easy to use and simple to manage or update. Using a learning management system allows you to develop product training programs more quickly for both new and existing products.
  • Leverage existing product knowledge. The goal is to equip your sales team with more and better product knowledge - some of which may already be available in product knowledge bases. Building a sales knowledge program with technology like Relay allows you to tap into existing knowledge bases for the products you sell. This is particularly helpful for VAR sales teams that sell technology products, because new features and updates can roll out quickly, which means more details that sales reps need to read up on and keep track of.
  • See the big picture. A collaborative sales knowledge base provides reps with up-to-date information on technology devices and how they interact with other products within the ecosystem. By syncing up with product developers and building a collaborative knowledge base together, your reps will always have access real-time updates and data that allows them to maximize conversions. 
  • Track progress and individual KPIs. Leverage sales knowledge program reporting, including individual progress within the curriculum. Test and measure rep performance and see exactly how much of the training each of your sales reps has finished.
  • Clearly define expectations for new team members. A learning management platform makes it easier to create a detailed training program for new sales reps, including expected timeframes for completely specific milestones. Not only does this help set expectations and streamline the training process, but it also ensures that every new rep has access to the same learning and product knowledge – which helps maintain consistency and high-quality CX.
  • Easily update and add training segments. Training should be an ongoing process for VAR sales teams. Even seasoned reps need onboarding to new products. Schedule training sessions on an ongoing basis or ask reps to review updates periodically to keep everyone on the same page.

Invest in Sales Knowledge Today to Maximize Long-Term Sales Potential

Developing a sales knowledge program does take some time and effort, but it’s a worthwhile investment that will pay out dividends for years to come. Here’s why: a good sales knowledge program goes beyond onboarding. Not only will it help your sales reps maximize product and sales knowledge right now, but it will also increase your sales efficiency and long-term sales potential.

Even though it can take a bit longer to ramp up from training to selling, if you spend time instilling knowledge and developing sales fluency when a rep is first hired or as soon as a new product is added to your sales lineup, your business will see larger sales gains in the long run.

On the other hand, business that don’t prioritize sales knowledge training can onboard team members more quickly – but at what cost? Without developing sales fluency through ongoing training, they’ll struggle to increase their sales potential and will ultimately miss out on more opportunities.

Make Everyone a Product Expert with Boomtown

Boomtown makes it easier to build and optimize a sales knowledge program that sets your team up for success. Our collaborative knowledge solutions provide a unique way to distribute a huge amount of technical data and product information across the entire organization.

Tap into existing knowledge bases for the products you sell, provide reps with up-to-date information on technology devices and how they interact with other products in the ecosystem, and access real-time product and sales data to maximize conversions. 

Looking to turn your sales reps into product experts? Get in touch with Boomtown today to schedule a demo.