Registration for Inspire 2024 is now open!

Register now

Product knowledge

Product knowledge

Table of Contents

    Customers are savvier than ever before thanks to the internet and the product information and reviews it offers. 

    If you want to satisfy customer needs while boosting your sales, your Sales team has to keep up. 

    The way to do that is by giving your sales reps a lot of product knowledge. 

    But where do you start?

    This guide has you covered. You’ll discover:

    • What product knowledge is
    • Why product knowledge and product training are so important
    • The benefits of product knowledge
    • Different types of product knowledge
    • How to increase product knowledge in your organization

     

    What is product knowledge?

    Product knowledge is a sales skill. It’s when your salespeople are completely familiar with:

    • Your product or service
    • The features and benefits of your product or service
    • Your product or service’s use cases
    • Your customers’ support needs 

    It’s arguably the most vital skill for any sales rep and customer support agent to have as it enables them to provide a good customer experience, answer questions about the product, and close sales.

    Giving product knowledge to employees is a process that involves the Marketing department, the Sales department, and the Product department. All three must use the same playbook and align on the product training strategy to drive customer satisfaction. 

    Because customers today have access to all kinds of information, your sales reps can’t cut it with just basic product knowledge. They need to understand the product inside out and have a high degree of knowledge about competitors’ products. 

    While this can sound like a lot, the benefits of investing in boosting product knowledge make it worthwhile in the end. 

    Before we dive into the benefits, let’s explore why product knowledge is so important for companies today.

     

    Why is product knowledge important?

    Here’s a good exercise to figure out the importance of product knowledge: Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. 

    Let’s say your company is in the market for new software, maybe a Learning Management System (LMS). You contact a sales rep, and they fail to explain the functionality of the product and the benefits you can get from using it. You’d come to a logical conclusion—this company isn’t serious about its product and customer service.  

    From this example, we can see that if a Sales department team member doesn’t have product knowledge, they can’t lead an effective sales conversation and close the deal. 

    If they don’t understand how the product works and what pain points it addresses for the customer, they cannot answer the customers’ questions. As a result, they won’t sell effectively. 

    That’s where product training comes in. It gives product knowledge which increases the employee’s confidence. Confidence, of course, is one of the most important qualities of a sales rep. 

    In the end, all of this translates into better customer support, service, and satisfaction, leading to more sales. 

    Speaking of LMSs, delivering product knowledge training via a learning platform can maximize its success. Sales reps (especially those on the field) can pull up essential product information on their mobile devices from any location. This ensures that customers get the answers they need right away.

    Updating digital learning content on your LMS is easy, ensuring sales teams have the most accurate and up-to-date product information.

    Next up: We’ll take a closer look at the benefits of product knowledge training.

     

    Three benefits of product knowledge

    As we mentioned above, it’s impossible to have effective and successful sales if the sales reps don’t have product knowledge.

    So, to empower the Sales team to do their best work, you have to give them product knowledge. 

    Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of doing that.

     

    Benefit #1: Employees have confidence

    Product knowledge boosts the confidence of employees and customers both. Your employees will feel more confident in their abilities and knowledge, which will help them sell more products. 

    At the same time, customers will feel sure that your company can take care of their needs.

    This is why including product knowledge in your employee training should be a priority. Both new employees and veteran sales reps benefit from product training and constant refreshers. 

    Not to mention, this positively affects their professional development. The more your salespersons grow as sellers, the more confidence they’ll have. 

     

    Benefit #2: Better customer support

    For a lot of products, especially Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) ones, good customer service is make or break. 

    No customer wants to be on their own when they’re troubleshooting an issue with your product. Guides, knowledge bases, and FAQs can go a long way, but nothing beats a human touch. Especially when the human in question has an abundance of excellent product knowledge. 

    This benefit isn’t just for the Support team, however. According to the statistics portal, Statista 89% of consumers say knowledgeable in-store salespeople make the trip to the store more desirable. 

    That means product knowledge is very valuable for in-person interactions with clients and customers.

     

    Benefit #3: More sales

    This is the big one. Will all that product training give your sales staff what they need to make more sales?

    Yes, it will. 

    Product training and the resulting product knowledge is one of the cornerstones of sales enablement

    When sales reps know your product from A to Z, they can talk effectively to prospective customers. Then, all the other sales skills take over, but knowing the product is the prerequisite. No matter how good a salesperson someone is, they can’t convince a potential customer to choose your product if they can’t effectively answer customers’ questions. 

    So far, we’ve talked about product knowledge as a single concept. But there are a few types of product knowledge you should know about. 

    We’ll go over them in the next section.

     

    Six types of product knowledge

    As a concept, product knowledge covers pretty much everything there is to know about a product (or service, of course). 

    With that in mind, here are six types of product knowledge that your Sales and Marketing teams should know about.

     

    Type #1: Customer

    Smart sales organizations are customer-centric, so your salespeople have to know your customer.

    Who’s the product made for? What do they expect from it? How does it solve their problems and pain points?

    When sales reps can answer those questions, they can serve customers better.

    You can improve sales training by also focusing on these:

    • Customizations that are available for the product
    • How to use the product
    • Tech-savvy features 
    • Product road mapping 

    These are things that’ll pop up in sales conversations with customers. Savvier customers want to know how they can customize the product to suit their needs and if there are any power user and advanced features like backend access to the source code.

    Your Sales team should also be in the loop about product features planned for the future. They can work those into the pitch as a further benefit for the customer.

     

    Type #2: Brand

    We won’t waste your time talking about the importance of branding in today’s business landscape. 

    You have a brand, and your entire organization needs to be on the same page about it. 

    Are you positioning your product as the budget or premium option? Are you going for a casual or corporate vibe? 

    Those are just some of the questions that your product knowledge training sessions should answer for your team members. 

    When they’re all in the same headspace about it, they’ll know how to make it clear to your target audience that your brand is the right one for their needs.

     

    Type #3: Competition

    Sales reps need to know your product inside out, but having some knowledge about competitors’ products is very important too.

    This is because salespeople with this knowledge can explain how your company’s product beats the competition. 

    Every seller praises his own wares. As a result, customers nowadays are too savvy to fall for statements about your brand being “best in class” or “industry-leading.”

    They want to know why you’re best in class and how exactly you’re leading in the industry. 

    Collecting data that shows how your product is beating the competition will be very useful for your Sales team. So, include it in the sales training program to boost your team’s sales performance.

     

    Type #4: Industry

    Every industry has its jargon. Whatever you might think about certain phrases that people in your industry may or may not overuse, you have to speak the language if you want to make the sale. 

    Your sales reps need to be knowledgeable about industry trends, jargon, buzzwords, etc., so they can speak the same language as other industry professionals. 

    If customers don’t even buy that your salespeople know what they’re talking about, forget about them buying the product. 

    Type #5: Policies

    Here we’re talking about stuff like service level agreements (SLAs), warranties, and end-user license agreements. Exchanges and refunds go under this heading too. Ditto for any special promotions you may be running.

    Your sales staff and Support teams need to know how to answer any and all questions about these.

    Policies are something that worries many customers and clients. When push comes to shove, customers want to know how they can use the warranty and what else they can expect from your company’s policies.

     

    Type #6: Mission

    Whatever your company’s mission and vision are, it should be a part of product knowledge training. 

    Doing this lets your Sales team know how their activity fits into the larger picture of what your company does. 

    It also helps align all teams to a single purpose and make sure that the brand messaging is on point at every step of the customer’s journey. 

    Questions to answer here are:

    • How does the product fit into the mission statement of your company?
    • How are your values different from your competitors’?

    While this may not be the most critical part of product knowledge, it’ll help with the overall customer experience. Sales reps that know how to properly position your product in a wider industry context come off as very professional and savvy.

    Alright, now that we know all there’s to know about product knowledge, how can we improve it? 

    We cover that in the next section. 

     

    Four tips to improve product knowledge in your organization

    If you’re selling products or services, you probably already conduct sales training as well as product training.

    Nevertheless, we’ve assembled a list of quick tips you can use to bring your product knowledge game to a whole new level. 

    Let’s get cracking.

     

    Tip #1: Offer hands-on experiences

    The best way to learn about a product is to actually use it. Many companies have made this kind of hands-on experience a part of their onboarding process for new hires.

    You can have your sales reps role-play as the customers and try to achieve certain tasks with your product. This works very well if you’re in the SaaS business. 

    For physical products, have your salespeople attend live product demonstrations where they can test out features themselves. 

    Consider also offering employee discounts, so that Sales team members can purchase the product themselves. 

    However you do it, giving hands-on experience with the product will allow sales reps to share their personal experiences with customers. This will have a big impact on sales conversations, as salespeople will be able to form closer connections with prospective customers.

     

    Tip #2: Support microlearning

    Modern products tend to be very complex. With all the best intentions, it’s hard for your employees to remember every little detail of each training session.

    Luckily, microlearning is a great way for them to access info in bite-sized pieces from anywhere and at any time. A typical microlearning lesson takes no longer than 10 minutes to complete.

    You can use microlearning content such as infographics and explainer videos on their own, as a part of a bigger training program, or as little nuggets meant to remind employees of the key training takeaways. 

    A knowledge base with short articles, FAQs, and step-by-step guides is another great way to support microlearning. You can build an employee knowledge base directly in your corporate learning management system, so employees can access bite-sized learning content when they need it.

    To take microlearning to the next level, embrace gamification and quizzes. They increase engagement and boost knowledge retention. For instance, award points for completing microlearning modules and create some healthy competition with leaderboards to display who is leading the pack.

    The best LMSs all support microlearning, so it’s easier than ever to implement.

     

    Tip #3: Provide personalized training

    Consistency is key in any learning and development program, and you need to align all team members and departments to the same goals. 

    So, a lot of the product training will be universal. Still, learners learn best from personalized content.

    You can adjust the training plans slightly for each rep. For instance, by creating personalized learning paths for employees based on their role, experience level, and learning preferences. 

    Incorporating assessments at the beginning of training modules will help you to tailor training plans to learners’ knowledge levels.

    Some L&D professionals include video transcriptions and downloadable scripts in their e-learning courses. That way, learners who prefer reading (as opposed to video or multimedia content) have the option. 

    Finally, you can offer learners the choice of a longer, more comprehensive learning path or a shorter refresher course. This means they can choose the best option for their current knowledge level. 

    With an LMS, this is easy to do as you can mix, match, and reuse different learning objects to create tailored modules, courses, and learning paths. 

    Training teams can also automate training management tasks by setting up automatic reminders on the LMS. This means that sales staff will receive a notification when they need to take (or retake) product knowledge training. Considering how quickly products evolve, this saves training departments a lot of precious time.

    What’s more, LMS reporting allows training teams to extract detailed reports to track training progress at an individual, team, and organizational level. 

     

    Tip #4: Incentivize effective product knowledge

    Learning can be very tiring if it’s not engaging and motivating. Fortunately, there are various ways to motivate sellers. The most obvious are bonuses for those who make the most sales.

    Outside of that, you can make product training engaging and motivating by embracing gamification and social learning. An LMS can facilitate this.

    For example, you can use social features such as discussion groups and chatrooms to make training more interactive. Learners can share their observations, questions, and insights to help each other along the way. 

    This makes the whole learning experience engaging and interesting, meaning the product knowledge is more likely to stick.

    Then, you can automatically award points and badges to employees for completing product knowledge training modules. At the end, the employee with the most points can win a prize and a shoutout on your corporate communications tool.

    Up next, we’ll recap the product knowledge fundamentals.

     

    Now over to you

    Product knowledge is a crucial skill for your Sales team. Without it, effective sales are unlikely. 

    Customers and clients are savvier than ever and want information before they pull the trigger on a purchase. That’s especially true for enterprise buyers that are playing with a lot of cash. 

    By embracing product training and giving your employees relevant product knowledge, you’ll give them what they need to provide better customer service and close more deals.

    An LMS is an ideal solution for product knowledge training. Affordable, flexible, and scalable, employees can access critical product information at any time and on any device. Plus, training teams can manage and monitor all training activities from one platform.

    Don’t stop learning now! Discover a treasure trove of L&D resources in our learning glossary.