Myths about online training programs persist, even when the benefits of the programs are clear. Don't allow these five common misconceptions to deter you from adopting a product education platform created for your sales channel.

1. Distributors will train themselves: Many manufacturers believe that once their products are delivered, the distributors’ sales teams will teach themselves about the features and benefits and learn how one product compares to another. In reality, distributors are busy serving their own customers. This often leaves distributors a limited amount of time to create their own training programs for specific products, ultimately impairing their sales.

Fortunately, training management software that offers channel certification and blended learning allows both manufacturers and distributors to design and provide individualized product training more effectively and efficiently.

2. Focus on educating trainers and management: Too often, companies focus on developing training programs that extend only to a handful of trainers and managers. If this reflects your company’s current strategy, you are missing out on the significant benefits that proper training can bring to your organization. The primary reason for product training is to provide those who are selling your product with the tools they need to make sales.

It’s important to train all members of your channels, and to give everyone equal access to training.

3. One size fits all for sales channels: A one-size-fits-all approach favors one part of your sales channel over the other, and gives neither the specific information that they need. It’s important to remember people learn differently, and your online training program must offer flexibility to the learner and his or her individual needs in order to impart targeted and relevant information that will stick.

Training created for internal sales teams could work just fine for an extended sales channel, but is more effective if it is modified or customized for those who are not employees. Taking it the next step, offering training for those who sell, those who install, and those who spec your products will cover your entire channel.

4. In-person training is the most effective: It's virtually impossible for your sales representatives to give live product demonstrations to all of your distributors’ sales staff. While face-to-face training is part of the relational sales model that manufactures and distributors continue to prefer, online training can augment that method. Training trips are time-consuming and expensive to fund, not to mention the fact that they require learners to give up all or a part of their workdays to attend product training. Blended learning, with offline and online training, is the preferred method of instruction. Online learning programs incorporate webinars and video demonstrations so learners still receive audio and visual instruction, while self-paced learning modules provide a deeper understanding of the product and its features. Training management software, in conjunction with classroom or face-to-face learning, is a flexible educational tool that does not take users away from their primary jobs for extended periods of time.

5. An LMS is too expensive: Some organizations complain that adopting a learning management system (LMS) isn’t cost-effective. In reality, when you use an LMS to train your sales channel, you bear the cost upfront but reap the benefits later in the form of your return on investment. Pricing models vary depending on the type of online training programs you want to offer, but cloud-based services are only a fraction of the cost of older training management software or in-person training.

 

Misperceptions about online training programs fuel the myths that undermine your efforts to educate members of your extended sales channel about your products. Smash these myths and move forward with a training effort tailored to the needs of your channel.

 

Photo credit: rumpleteaser on Flickr

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