At some point, virtually every business conducts training. From the neighborhood coffee shop teaching new baristas how to make lattes, to software behemoths deploying millions of dollars worth of technology all around the world, companies use training to keep their customers happy, sales rolling in, and business running smoothly.
The goals and purpose of training provided at different companies varies. In the case of the small coffee shop, training is likely informal and delivered from one person to another. For the global technology provider, things are a bit different.
Three-Pronged Training Content Approach
Most companies that provide a complex solution or product encounter a three-pronged training challenge. First, they need to make sure their customers can easily learn to use the product. Second, they must prepare sales people who have a deep knowledge of their product’s functionality and applications. Third, they may want to help potential customers expand their skills and knowledge that relate directly to a product offering. This last one is akin to thought leadership combined with professional education and it can be a boon to a company’s reputation as a leader in the market.
At TechSmith, we know this challenge well. We have a large user base that wants to quickly learn our products and the best workflows. At t he same time, we have internal sales folks and external channel sales partners that need to have a thorough understanding of our company and the products’ we offer. And, third, we genuinely want to help people learn useful skills when it comes to video, image creation, and visual communication.
Each of the three prongs has a unique set of benefits, which means deciding what to take on first depends on the needs of your organization and its goals. Let’s look at the benefits and key considerations of each.
Training for users
For a lot of companies this is the first type of training they create. The goal of training for users is to give them an easy onboarding path. Essentially, your goal is to, as quickly as possible, help them arrive at a point where they experience value from your product.
Training for users is an industry standard these days. Customers expect it, but that doesn’t mean they take it for granted. Well-designed user training is often perceived as a feature of the product offering. Indeed, at TechSmith we feel our tutorials are part of the package we offer to our customers.
Training for users is a huge driver of customer satisfaction. Simply knowing they have a company-supported resource is a confidence boost in their ability to learn and implement a new product. It is also helpful in sales conversations. Managers or directors buying a solution will want to know that their employees can easily learn your solution and will have access to the necessary resources.
Product tutorials serve a marketing function, too. They are a great way for new and prospective users to see functionality and features without devoting a ton of time or effort. A user can see what we offer without ever downloading and installing. Once it is confirmed we provide desired features, they move to the next step in the funnel: downloading the trial.
A final bonus is that by making your own tutorials, you control the message. If you’re not making them, someone else might do it, designing with their own motivations in mind. By making your own, you take advantage of another touchpoint with customers and communicate the message you want.
- Think about providing tiered training series (e.g. Beginner and Advanced tutorials)
- Make sure to cover core features and workflows
- Use a consistent template or pattern in videos to help viewers become familiar
- Needs to be kept up to date and refreshed when new features are released
Training for sales
Whether you have internal or external sales people, this is an important focus. Sales folks need both the language to talk about your products and solutions, along with a way to spot opportunities. Offering training to help grow product and company knowledge is an excellent way to solve this problem. At TechSmith, our biggest focus with this has been creating content that can be used by our channel sales partners.
Create a series that keys salespeople into the big problems that your product(s) solves. Features are less important here, while characteristics of prospective customers are critical. What are the activities or interests that customer organizations or individuals will express that make them a good fit for your offering? Training for sales should provide a complete answer to this question and give sales people the knowledge and language to communicate to customers.
Especially when it comes to channel sales partners, this type of training can be a big benefit. Channel partners often know little about your company and have a number of other products they sell. Giving them an easy way to gain familiarity with your company and talking points can be a big plus. Any way to make sure you are top of mind in the right situations can lead to more sales.
- Do internal sales people need different information than channel or outside sales folks?
- Find a balance between product knowledge and customer characteristics knowledge
- Make sure it is easy to access and consume
- Think about tracking and viewership needs
- An LMS may be necessary for creating courses and educational paths
- Provide additional sales or marketing resources
Training for the industry
Your product most likely provides a solution that benefits a particular industry practice or activity. TechSmith’s products, Camtasia and Snagit, help people create amazing images and videos and use them to communicate in new, more effective ways. Of course, not everyone is familiar with how to record and edit videos or create graphics and images. To solve this we created the TechSmith Academy. The Academy helps anyone interested in making video learn the fundamentals. The knowledge we provide is valuable, whether or not an individual uses our products.
Creating educational content that anyone can use, even without using your product, can be highly beneficial to business (so long as the content you create relates to your solution). You want your company to be seen as a leader in the industry for which you provide solutions. Helping others grow their competencies in the area is one of the best ways to achieve that status.
- Identify core or critical skills in the industry
- Match the skills you teach with ones that make using your products easier
- You may be able to offer a ‘certification’ of sorts
- May need an LMS for delivery and tracking
Making all of the content suggested above could be overwhelming. My suggestion is to decide which one of the three would be of the greatest impact on your business. While I have presented these in a particular order, that does not imply that one should always be of higher priority than another.
Consider your companies needs when it comes to your customers, your sales people and partners, and position in the industry. What do you most want to achieve? Then, pick a path and start creating and sharing great content!