Skip the sales training. Use video instead. [Good Advice]

Product training for sales teams

Product training for sales is critical, but it can be counterproductive. That’s because when you restrict a salesperson’s time you impact their productivity.

There’s no role more likely to need to travel, take a meeting, be in a different time zone, or jump on a last minute call. No person more likely to be answering emails instead of watching you present remotely on their laptop.

Salespeople first and foremost need to spend their time selling: growing relationships, handling objections, progressing the deal, and getting contracts into shape.

So the next time you want to train your sales team on your product, skip the meeting and make a video instead.

You’ll save them time, and train them better in the process.

Video is superior to in-person training for salespeople because:

  1. Salespeople often can’t attend trainings because of travel or meetings
  2. It’s easy to miss something in a live training
  3. If you want to rewatch part of a video, it doesn’t waste the group’s time

For any software product, it’s simple to record a screen capture and talk through what is going on. I use ScreenFlow on my Macbook Air. These videos typically take me 45-90 minutes to record and edit, including adding music and titles. That’s about the same amount of time as preparing for and running a meeting.

However, my product videos only take 3-8 minutes to watch.

That means as a company we probably save 20-50 minutes per salesperson per meeting in productivity. In the process I have a near 100% view rate for my video trainings versus about a 60% attendance rate for in-person ones. Over time we also have a large repository of trainings that can be referenced as a refresher, or used to help on-board new hires.

Here’s the trick though. I do believe in offering in-person training. But, it’s always after watching the video and always one-on-one.

Some folks prefer not to speak up in a meeting, but in a 1:1 session they will reveal what they need to be successful. Individual trainings have a way of sussing out those one or two embarrassingly basic questions that, when answered, rapidly elevate their product knowledge. And sometimes what they think is a training issue is actually a bug that could have been missed if you didn’t provide an avenue for them to check in on it. And yes, plenty of people are self-teaching and never take me up on the 1:1s, and that’s fine too.

A product training video framework

If you’re interested in using video to train your sales team on your product, here’s the basic framework I use:

  1. What the feature is
  2. Who would use it (we have multiple user personas and customer types)
  3. Why someone would want to use it
  4. How to talk about its benefits and value
  5. If it is an update, how the new thing is different from the old thing
  6. How to use the feature
  7. Where it may fit into a product demo or walkthrough

One thing you’ll notice right away is that I covered a lot of material other than how to use a feature. That’s because I need my team to be able to speak to our product as experts, not just users. Having to do the math between how a feature works and what it means for the customer is another thing that is better done once by me instead of leaving it to chance to be done at all.

Keep it brief. Each of the elements in this framework may only be a single sentence spoken. But you have to make sure you set up every feature in context, even if that context is that moving part of the UI saves a few clicks, or a new feature just extends an existing benefit a little bit further.

If you’re involved in sales support, here’s your action step. Right now, go into your calendar and find those recurring product training meetings, take a long hard look, and decide whether a simple video makes a lot more sense. Cancel the next meeting and let the team know to expect a video instead.