How To Get Great Vendor Training

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Frustrated with vendors' training efforts? Graunke, chairman and CEO at StormWind Ventures, can sympathize. Forward this blog to your "favorite" sales rep — and see if that doesn't help change vendor training tactics. —Jennifer D. Bosavage

When was the last time you saw a vendor training materials and said, “That was AMAZING! We can sell your product no problem.” Probably rarely, if ever. The single biggest challenge for vendors in terms of reaching the channel today is getting “retainable” attention by the sales people. Resellers not only need to know how a product works, but also, they need to understand the value proposition.

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Companies put millions into R&D, and then hundreds of thousands more into marketing a single product. Then they put out a forgettable training offering to channel partners, which can render all of their hard work useless. Just because that training is online, and made it on demand, doesn’t make it’s any less boring or more effective for that matter.

IT channel reps are overworked and buried with information. You know you have more on your plate now than ever before. So it's more critica than ever that vendors deliver a memorable message in training, just as they would in marketing.

Learning 2.0 is a massive revolutionary change in the approach to training and messaging. It’s the blend of Hollywood-quality technology and modern methodology mechanics of how people retain information. It is not putting a Powerpoint into Slideshare, and it’s certainly not asking your partner’s sales reps to consume a day's worth of videos. Here are four tips to share with your vendors so they can apply Learning 2.0 to their sales training programs. And they're interesting for resellers that are interested in sprucing up their own internal training programs.

1. See Training as a Movie Trailer
One example of Learning 2.0 is applying the “movie trailer” model of short burst, emotional messaging to the learning segments. The user retention of this method is off the charts. When Sony engaged eLearning 2.0 training for their new smartphone launch, they saw more than 90 percent voluntary completion rate of the training by sales reps, which directly impacted sales. That exceeded anything they had done before, even classroom training.

2. Stop Talking So Much
Cut your message by 75 percent. The second single biggest mistake made in the channel is to talk about the "27" features of a particular product. Cut back to the three to five “must know” items. Focus on describing those in a clear and powerful way; the key value propositions are what's most important to communicate. Include materials that tout the features so they have it on hand.

3. Be a True Story Teller
Tell the product's story like it’s the most important thing in the world. In other words, market the training as if it were the product. Steve Jobs had this down to a science at Apple. Every launch presentation was delivered in a way that he felt changed the world. Your channel reps are capable of doing the same thing, they just need to see how it’s done, be armed with the right information, and provided the opportunity to practice the pitch. Don’t depend on their employers to encourage this behavior, it needs to come from you.

4. Get Them to Buy In

Don’t just tell them about the product, tell them “why” they should care about what you are saying. What’s in it for them and how are you making their lives better and easier for it? Will their sales numbers rise? What will that mean for their paychecks? Will they be a part of something socially important that your product brings to the market? Tell them why they should care. Including this element in your training helps channel reps bring a personal element into the delivery, much like a movie, that most training programs miss.

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