Creating a Product Launch Training Program

A baseball-loving Iowa farmer was once told, “if you build it, they will come.” But unlike the ghosts of baseball players, your customers aren’t going to show up just because your product exists.

Getting the attention of prospects and customers alike takes a full-scale effort. To make this a home run, you need sales and marketing to come up to bat.

Marketing needs to know the value of the new product.

The first internal group to train is marketing. They’re on the hook to generate qualified leads for the new product. So, you want to know they are selling accurately and hit on the specific value-adds of your solution.

When training marketing staff on your new or updated product, you have to be clear on the new or updated product and its benefits because marketing will ultimately be the storytellers and message creators for the solution. So, the main attraction must be on which pain points the product solves and the specific ways customers will benefit.

Marketing will ultimately craft the actual language for their pitch, but that doesn’t mean you skimp on training. Instead, focus your product launch training for marketing on the meaningful benefits and advantages of the product. Of course, the gear heads can always read the fine print, but that’s not where marketing focuses their pitch.

Sales teams benefit from a FAQ document when having product conversations.

While marketing writes the story for multiple channels, the sales team is getting deals over the finish line. But in many ways, the training for both of these groups overlaps considerably.

Both must be conversant in WHY the customer would benefit from the product. So, while marketing focuses on a one-way conversation with a broader audience, the sales team has dialogues with prospects.

Since sales reps get questions during their pitch meetings and follow-ups, it’s good to arm them with an FAQ document. The FAQs address everything you can think of today and include updates based on feedback. These FAQs help salespeople quickly answer questions and include good responses for the common objections.

When you finish getting marketing and sales up to speed on the new product, they can:

  • Accurately convey the benefits and capabilities of the product
  • Give a serviceable demo of the basic product features and primary use cases
  • Understand how the product’s value proposition compares to competitors in the marketplace
  • Answer basic questions about what the product can and can’t do
  • Provide accurate pricing estimates

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Support Teams Need to Know How the Product Works and Can Help with the Techincal Details

Product training for support teams differs greatly from sales and marketing. They’re on the front lines fielding messages from customers trying to use the product to achieve their own goals.

Support’s training must therefore delve into far more detail. In this case, the WHY takes a backseat to the WHAT and HOW of your product. In the support training, the subject matter can extend into technical details. So, you can partner with a representative from the technical team to help answer the technical questions.

Building up a knowledge base and FAQ helps the support team out, so they have a quick reference. Over time, the most common support issues will have corresponding responses. Sometimes, common issues can even make it into the next product release or roadmap.

Support training also encompasses the complete chain of escalation and any tools in the product stack those staff members might use.

After completing the training, support can:

  • Use the entire product by themselves
  • Answer common questions customers ask
  • Know where they can search for additional information
  • Know how to escalate if they can’t resolve the issue
  • Understand how to submit product feedback to the product team
  • Have access to any tools required to provide frontline/first-line support

Strategic Partners Can Evangelize Your New Product

Not every business relies on strategic partners to market, sell, or support its products. However, for those that do, educating partners is often more critical than training up your staff. They’re in the marketplace representing your brand and product. But they’re not focusing 24/7 on your product because it’s likely one of many they discuss.

You can repurpose the playbooks and materials you use internally for these training sessions. However, it’s vital to fully understand how the partner organizations work to ensure you’re training the right people. In most cases, it’s far more critical to make sure the customer-facing staff knows the training material.

You’ll probably need to hold partner training multiple times. And, if in person, in multiple locations, to cover everyone selling or supporting your products. Since your partners are more likely to push your products when they understand them, it is worthwhile to train them.

Educated Customers are a Great Resource for Referrals

Last—but definitely not least—comes the customers themselves. Once customers get the product in their hands, they need a whole new level of training. Overlooking the importance of positioning new customers for success is one of the top ways to torpedo your product’s reputation.

Ideally, the goal is to get customers to “realize value” quickly. Then they turn into adopters, renew their subscriptions, purchase more units, and recommend the solution to others. With that in mind, the training propels them toward those moments rather than overwhelming them with comprehensive training.

If there is interest, you can offer deeper dives into different aspects of the product and its capabilities. But the initial training always zeros in on turning trials into adoptions and adoptions into loyal fans. Detailed documentation, tutorials, and other resources then complement that onboarding-oriented training, as can in-app onboarding.

When you finish training, customers can:

  • Complete valuable tasks independently using the product
  • Understand the breadth and scope of its capabilities
  • Know where they can find additional training, documentation, and tutorials
  • Know how to get support for any issues they encounter

9 Tips for Creating a Great Product Launch Training Program

Now that you understand what is included in a product launch training program, here are some hints on how to make it successful.

1. Build product training development and delivery into your timeline.

If you don’t budget time for these activities, they’ll likely end up an afterthought. Putting them into the project plans creates more visibility and accountability to ensure it actually happens.

2. Identify your goals for the training program.

Your goals don’t need to be particularly creative or unusual. You need a solid definition of what you’re trying to achieve so you can accurately measure success.

3. Create a demo script and playbook that hits the highlights.

A demo script and playbook take the decision-making out of each sales rep’s or marketer’s hands. A successful demo script and playbook includes all critical capabilities and skips over the less interesting aspects of the product.

4. Develop “self-service” materials and training in order to scale.

Naturally, not everyone is available for your lunch-and-learn or wants to attend a webinar on a random Tuesday morning. So create core training assets that are available at their convenience. However, there are still be ample opportunities for trainees to ask questions or request follow-up sessions afterward.

5. Tailor your training for each audience.

Less is more… unless more is really needed. Most trained internal stakeholders don’t need to become product experts. They just need enough information and context to do their job. When you really concentrate on what matters most to specific roles, your training will be most effective.

6. Keep the product training brief and high-level for customers.

Offering up training in modules or “chunks” allows them to pick and choose what they want to learn. They can choose a module because it piques their interest or core to their usage.

7. Accommodate different learning styles and preferences into the training.

Some will want to try it on their own and then research when they have issues. Others want a hand-held personalized tour. So create as many options and modalities as possible without creating an unsustainable amount of work. Then monitor to see the most popular options when prioritizing future training and support.

8. Create a formal certification program for more complex product offerings.

These certification programs—offered in addition to the core training elements—allow partners and customers to become experts. Depending on the price point and industry, these certification programs can become products themselves and generate revenue and profits.

9. Keep your training program materials and programs up to date.

Technically your training materials are never finalized because user onboarding never ends. Your product will evolve, so you must keep your training materials accurate at all times. New and existing customers will use the training materials. However, it is also useful for onboarding new staff in your company.

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