SaaS companies live and die by their product. Their customer’s understanding of their product and how it will fit into their current processes and systems plays a direct role in whether or not they turn into a long-term customer. Customer understanding of your product is so important, you should make sure that you are actively training them in using and integrating your solution as you go through the sales process.
Most SaaS companies would also say that they understand this. Why then, do so many companies fail to provide full product training to their salespeople and instead ask that they sell from within a bubble, never fully versed in how their product may re-shape the organizations of some of their customers.
While most companies know that it is critical to provide some initial product training as you onboard new members to their sales team, where they miss is on the follow-up. They never work to expand that training. They may share some memos and blog posts about new features, but how often are they put through additional training and tested for their understanding? Often, a lack of a full understanding of the product is what is standing in the way for sales teams as they attempt to reach their goals.
Here are a few tips that all software companies should follow to ensure that their sales pros receive solid initial and ongoing product training and improve sales performance:
Provide Demos Throughout Onboarding
Space things out a bit. Give your new sales team member a little bit of time to breathe. You shouldn’t give your new team member the same demo that you would give a customer. Instead, you should focus on demoing singular aspects of your platform at a time. You don’t want to give them too much information at once. For most solutions, it is almost impossible to go over every single feature in a half-hour.
Let the demos come throughout their initial onboarding period, covering a single feature or aspect of your solution. Not only will this help your sales team to retain more information, but it will make it less of an initial time sink for everyone.
Demo Product Updates and Features
A blog post, spec sheet, or short meeting is not enough to help your salespeople truly understand large updates and features as they roll out. Make sure that you sit down with each team member separately and provide a full walk-through of the new feature, connecting with the different uses that your buyer personas will have for it. While they may not want to integrate every feature into their initial sales pitch, having this information is important for answering questions, quelling fears, and getting a prospect from “maybe” to “yes.”
Let Them See Use Case Examples
Sometimes connecting your different features to real-world uses can be difficult to understand in full. Use a demo account with dummy data to let them try out the features for themselves. Then they can truly begin to understand the workflow for the different features and speak with more knowledge as they explain how prospects could integrate your solution into their existing processes. Without that hands-on experience, it’s going to be tough for them to make those connections during sales conversations.
Knowledge Assessments and Tests
Just going through a demo or series of demos isn’t enough. More companies should seek to prove that their sales reps are knowledgeable about the product. To do that, you should prepare a test or certification exam for them to go through. This not only helps the company to ensure that their sales team is adequately trained, but provides an interesting change of pace for sales professionals who are usually glued to their phones and keyboards.
Show How Your Solution Would Apply to Different Roles
When you explain your software to a salesperson, it is important to try to explain it in the most useful context, given their job. As a sales person, their job is to show how your solution will solve specific problems or issues they are encountering. You probably have a few different buyer personas that you are targeting. Explaining your software in terms of each persona and how they will use it within their organization can help them to see the bigger picture and improve their sales pitch.
Use a Learning Management System
Trying to manage all of this by hand would be extremely difficult. You’ll need a system that will walk each of your salespeople through the educational process for you. Something like Lessonly might be a smart investment for larger or growing teams. These systems can help you create and categorize your educational materials, make all of your information easy to access, and give your trainees a chance to ask questions and engage with you through an organized messaging system (instead of cluttering up your inbox) are all very useful features.
Know the Product, Sell the Product
It’s a consistent trend that we see among the companies that we work with. They have great sales teams but invest little time or funds into actively keeping them trained. To be a great salesperson, you have to know your product in and out. You have to be able to match all of the niche uses and features with the different issues that different buyer personas will experience and be actively shopping for a solution for. To gain that understanding, you have to give your sales team experience with actually using the software.