Why Your Sales Training Content Needs a Distinct Flavor

It’s day one for a new sales rep. What do you need her to learn so she can become productive quickly?

You can probably answer this question in your sleep: product specs, pricing, company protocol…the list goes on. Before a rep can start closing deals, you know that she needs to be able to speak with a certain level of authority.

That is all well and good, but it ignores another important part of the selling process: the experience that customers have with your rep. In other words, how will your rep present herself and tell the product story? Minter Dial, a former L’Oreal executive, explained to Yesware: “The salesperson is a primary representative of the brand he or she is selling. They need to represent the human qualities, not just the technical aspects of a product.”

What does this look like in action? The short answer: salespeople should come across differently for different brands. Take ice cream brands Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s, for example: “You could imagine the Häagen-Dazs person being a little less flower power and a bit more tie and jacket—that’s the feeling of that brand. Ben & Jerry’s is going to come in a little bit more like tie dye, wearing a beard,” Dial explains. It’s important to identity your brand’s unique qualities and make sure that your reps—often your company’s only human representatives—live and breathe them.

So, circling back to day one, think carefully about your training content. Beyond the information essentials, what will help new reps truly understand your brand and empower them to represent it? Below, we’ve listed four tips to get you started.

1. Design on-brand content.

This may seem obvious, but it’s a good starting point. Without reading the text of your training content, does it look branded? In other words, does it follow your brand’s unique color guidelines, fonts, and, of course, make use of proper logos? Cookie-cutter training content might be easier to get out the door faster, but it will do little to create a lasting impression.
Branded content
To create a branded experience, you’ll likely need to meet with your design team to align on the right styles. From there, it’s a matter of applying those styles and templates to InDesign or, if you’re creating digital content, applying them across your CSS files. Here at Inkling, we use CSS to apply a branded look-and-feel across an entire document, with little to no help from a designer after the fact. It’s an easy way to maintain consistency without continuous updates.

2. Speak in the right tone.

Across all company documentation, your copywriters keep a careful eye on tone of voice—make sure that includes your training content, too. Whichever tone is appropriate, it can play a part in how your reps speak to customers.SlackImage from Crew

Lest you think tone is a minor detail, consider the recent blockbuster success of messaging app Slack, as compared to its counterpart, Hipchat. One of Slack’s distinguishing features, Crew notes, is “how it made them feel,” not just its enhanced product features. Their friendly, fun tone carries through the company, from the website headline to product copy and how their salespeople talk on the phone.

3. Build excitement.

With branded design and the right tone of voice, your training content’s unique perspective will begin to take shape. But beyond that, think about how you can truly get your reps excited about what they’re selling. With the right tools and a little imagination beyond an “interactive” PDF, your training content has the opportunity to make your products shine. 
employee training
Here at Inkling, we’ve seen our customers do some pretty incredible things—interactive, annotated images (as seen above), “slidelines” that show how to use a product in steps, or videos that give word-for-word examples of sales pitches. All of this interactivity allows your reps to better see the true value of your product—which in turn makes it easier for them to sell it.

4. Put the customer first.

The benefit to all of this is not just a better brand—it’s sales reps who are closer to what you’re selling, what its distinctions are, and how it can impact your customers. Writes Yesware, “Asking a salesperson to embody a brand means ‘introducing a higher degree of customer centricity throughout the organization,’ Dial notes, so ‘a salesperson will have access to all the necessary information in order to accommodate the client.’ By creating training content that puts your brand first, you actually put your customer first.

The bottom line:

Your sales training content isn’t just a means to communicate information; it can inform how your reps represent your brand. Take time to evaluate the current state of your training content and what it says about your brand. If its overall design, tone, and interactivity (or lack thereof) isn’t speaking the right message, consider how you can refresh your content to make it uniquely your own.

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