For every product release, train your employees on the new features to ensure that everyone understands what has been released and how it affects them. Organizational readiness is one of the key elements of a successful product release.
Training for the product release: Marketing, sales and support
As an entrepreneur, you will have a very small team, so you might require only one session to train all of your employees. However, each type of employee will have different training needs; make sure to include something for everyone.
Marketing and sales training
Sales and marketing teams view the world through a distinct lens. They want to close sales. They will not be as interested in the actual feature or technical details; they need to know why a customer would care about a feature. They also want to know the feature’s associated benefits. Focus on buyer personas when training this group.
Your support team provides day-to-day customer support and answers calls about new releases. Their goal is to help customers. This team will be most concerned about what the features can do for the customer, and where those features can go wrong.
When training this team, include a hands-on component to help them develop an understanding of typical user scenarios. Focus on user personas when training this group.
Your testers can provide this information. Also provide instruction on any defects that you have chosen to not fix or defects that have workarounds.
Effective training techniques
Many training sessions include participants who cannot retain the information (for example, they nod off, they lose focus). Several tried and true training methods exist to help your teams learn more effectively:
Use storytelling in training
Telling stories about a feature, and how people use it day to day, brings a feature to life. People tend to remember the story and how the feature helped a customer. A salesperson can incorporate it into their own storytelling with customers.
Example: Sarah is getting married. She uses our online wedding planner site to manage her deadlines. She keeps forgetting to send cheques and is embarrassed that vendors are being paid late. With the site’s new reminder feature, Sarah receives an email every time a payment comes due.
Your salespeople want to be able to identify the typical buyer so that they can sell to them. By building a picture in everyone’s mind, your staff will understand who they need to communicate with.
Example: Sarah lives in downtown Toronto. She is a young professional who is climbing the corporate ladder at the PR firm where she has worked for the last five years. She is engaged to her high-school sweetheart and they intend to get married next year.
Sarah is always busy; if she’s not putting in long hours at work, she is at the gym or volunteering with Big Sisters. She wants a dream wedding, although she has no idea how she’ll find the time to put it together. Our online wedding planner site will help her to keep track of everything she needs to do.
Use hands-on training
Letting the team try the product, and do their own exercises, is a great way to learn. People learn in different ways (such as listening, seeing or doing).“Doers” prefer the hands-on approach because they can apply the newly acquired knowledge to real-life situations.
Example: Using the reminder service from the wedding planner site, have everyone create an account (on their own) and set up a reminder.
A great way to get people to pay attention during training is to state that they will be required to complete a quiz. It does not have to be serious or difficult; it should cover the basics of the topic. Awarding a fun prize (such as a dinner voucher) can motivate trainees to participate more enthusiastically; this method is especially effective with sales teams.
Example: Drawing on what was learned about the reminder service above, ask questions such as: How often can a reminder be sent? How much does the service cost?
BLR Employee Training Center. (2010). The Most Effective Training Techniques. Retrieved September 30, 2010, from http://training.blr.com/employee-training-resources/How-to-Choose-the-Most-Effective-Training-Techniques
Daniels, D. (2010). Product Launch Readiness: Planning for Sales Velocity. Pragmatic Marketing. Retrieved September 30, 2010, from http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/publications/topics/08/product-launch-readiness-planning-for-sales-velocity/?searchterm=launch%20planning
Murphy, J. (2010). Sales Training: Revving Up The Troops. Pragmatic Marketing. Retrieved September 30, 2010, from http://www.pragmaticmarketing.com/publications/topics/06/0602jm1