Training in Channel Sales and Incentives
Channel sales reps are sometimes tricky to talk to directly, particularly when it comes to training on your products and services. Since you often don’t interact directly with your sell-through reps, communicating information about your product or services can be tricky. Often, companies will just provide a flyer with incentives and instructions on how to submit claims.
But providing documentation about your products and/or services can make all the difference! Here we will discuss some of the top five key reasons you should provide training documentation on your products and brand, especially within an incentive program.
1. Better Sales
No product or service is perfect for everyone 100% of the time. If your salespeople are pushing your product simply because they get a reward, your end customer could be displeased with your product.
For example, let’s say you are a pool supplies manufacturer. You incentivize your agents to sell the Turbo Vacuum which works up to 10 feet under water, but you choose not to incentivize the Deep Turbo Vacuum which works up to 15 feet. In this situation, if your product specs are difficult to access, the agent might sell the wrong product to a customer, in an effort to get a better reward. When the customer, who had a 12-ft pool, uses their new vacuum, they might be upset to learn their purchase was a mistake. This looks bad on both the agent and your company’s brand name.
By making training documents readily available, you will enable your salespeople to not only sell items you push, but to make informed decisions when pushing products. Remember that at the end of the day, a happy customer is likely to purchase again, while a dissatisfied customer may demand a refund or turn others away from your brand.
2. Build Trust
When your salespeople know about the products, they are better able to communicate the pros and cons of your products. As we discussed in the first point, a more knowledgeable sales rep could recommend the right products to a customer. If the customer likes your product and it matches what the salesperson said about it, the customer is more likely to purchase from that seller (and your products) again.
Further, when customers show considerable trust in the agent to sell a great product, the salesperson will better appreciate your brand. You gain the trust and loyalty of your channel reps. If the information you provide them on your products is clear, accurate, and easily accessible, they put trust in you that the information is correct, which allows them to sell better. They don’t want to deal with an unhappy customer any more than you do. Better training resources build the trust that you are there to help them make better sales.
3. Easier for Reps
We touched on it in the last point: the more information you provide on your products, the better educated your channel sales reps are. If you don’t provide informational material or only provide the bare bones about your product specs, your sales reps will be left to find the information elsewhere (like on your website). And if your information isn’t available on your website, then they won’t be able to make informed sales. They would just be pushing a product to get a bonus. Bad sales, as we have established, can lead to more problems.
If, on the other hand, your product specs are available within the same place as your incentive program, your sales reps will be more likely to read up and be informed. Further, if your incentive program allows for it, incorporate a training program into the incentive. You have the choice to simply added a reward for completing a training module, or use the training module as a prerequisite for incentive participation.
4. Competitive Advantage
We’ve already discussed the benefits of your rep knowing more information about your products, but we haven’t mentioned how not every OEM has training documents. If your competition doesn’t train its channel reps on their products, you have the chance to become a favored OEM. When your agents or contractors are more knowledgeable about your products over your competitors, you’re set up to win!
5. Set Industry Standards
When you provide documentation about your products to your sales reps, you are not only giving them information about your products but also about the industry. Let’s say you sell flooring. By providing specs about your product, you provide greater context about industry norms. As we mentioned in the last point, if your competition doesn’t train the channel reps, then your training documentation may help set the tone and verbiage of the industry. If you are more a more innovative company with brand new products, your channel sales reps are the first to understand – meaning they will be selling a new industry standard product or service before your competition develops their own knock-off copy.