Delivering product knowledge training to your channel used to be a ton of work, but the type of worthwhile work that is very rewarding. In the case of product knowledge training, the rewards come in the form of a lift in sales. Importantly, research has shown product knowledge to be one of the top factors in motivating retail sales associates to sell the products they sell. Along the way, the proliferation of easy to use digital content creation tools and the ubiquity of Internet usage has made scaling and delivery of training easier than ever.
So how can you take it to the next level?
Get Yourself Connected
One emerging trend that brands are using to get more out of their training is connecting their online Learning Management Systems (LMS) to their incentives software. Sales people are by and large very open to receiving sales training – product knowledge is how they can sell more and they are earning their living by selling. Giving them a little spiff to take training is a great extra nudge, but it's also just the starting point. Connecting your LMS to your incentives platform is clever because it creates several other significant points of leverage:
Measure It, Manage It
By offering a digital LMS to your channel, you are not only giving yourself the ability to quickly deploy the most up to date content to drive retail sales. Now that you have the ability to observe who has taken the training and who hasn't, you can start to measure the effectiveness of your training offerings.
Start out by measuring a simple indicator such as the sales difference between retail sales associates (RSAs) who have taken your training and those who have not. Now you can start to test different scenarios – how do tweaks to the training content affect sales figures? How do results compare between video training and e-book or brochure training materials? Do RSAs who take a quiz on the content have better sales numbers than those who simply completed the training and took no quiz? How can you fill in the gaps where the training is not getting uptake?
Ramp It Up
Your training needs are going to vary as greatly as the people you are providing the training for. Being able to measure their training efforts alongside their sales outcomes (via your incentives software) helps you to uncover different ways to get your information into the right hands. Be open to the fact that people learn in different ways – some prefer to read, some prefer to do and some will prefer lecture-style instruction delivered via video. Luckily, digitized training can easily be repurposed into any format and delivered in whichever ways work best.
By benchmarking your early results and then checking it with occasional testing of data samples, you can ensure that your brand continues to eke greater and greater ROI out of your training efforts. Bonus: it's very motivating for the team who creates the training to be able to view its effectiveness once it has been deployed to the channel. By tracking incremental sales lift associated with new training, teams are empowered and excited to keep improving future versions of all the materials they develop.
Amp It Up
Sales is a field known for having a lot of hyper-competitive types attracted to working in it. Here's your opportunity to deliver something extra special for those folks. After all, your top performers in the channel are giving a little something extra to your brand in the way of increased sales – why not give them the chance to unlock some tiered rewards by taking extra training?
Tiered rewards are an outstanding way to offer continued incentive for RSAs in your channel to continue to grow their product knowledge. For example, you could offer a base SPIFF to every RSA in the channel, with incrementally higher bronze, silver and gold (even platinum!) level training certification allowing the RSAs to unlock greater rewards.
As with any effective business tactic, rewarding for training is not “set it and forget it!” You need flexibility to make changes and data to base those changes on. Having your training and incentives running on one master portal makes it easier to see how your training is affecting sales and makes it easier to do a better job of both your training and channel incentive program design.
A lifelong technology entrepreneur, Jason Atkins is the founder and CEO of 360incentives. 360incentives is the world's first integrated incentive software platform, allowing brands to run spiffs, rebates, co-op/MDF, and sell-through allowances all processed and paid with 100% audit and powerful analytics to predict what to do next. For more information, visit: http://www.360incentives.com.