What Is Product Knowledge? (And How To Improve It)
Updated December 19, 2022
If a company sells products to customers, it can be important for employees to be highly knowledgeable about them and what problems they solve. For people who work in sales and marketing, understanding products can help them offer customers quality items that match their needs. Learning more about product knowledge can help you boost the performance of the company for which you work and increase customer satisfaction.
In this article, we discuss product knowledge and its benefits and types, and we explain how you can improve the product knowledge processes in your own office.
What is product knowledge?
Product knowledge is the process of teams learning about company products so that they can effectively describe them to customers. This involves people who have customer-facing positions learning details about product features, benefits and uses. They may also learn about troubleshooting and support so that they can offer customers guidance with any issues or concerns. With this knowledge, sales and support teams can help customers feel satisfied with their purchases and inspire them to repeat business with the company.
Product knowledge benefits
Product knowledge can benefit a company by:
Helping associates provide accurate information
When employees have a solid understanding of each product, it's easier for them to answer customers' questions and provide them with factual information regarding the products. It also allows employees to focus on the benefits the products provide. When customers receive accurate product information, they can make more strategic purchases.
Boosting enthusiasm and encouraging sales
If employees understand the products they're selling and can exhibit their passion for them, customers may have a more positive response to such enthusiasm. In addition, this knowledge and eagerness to share the product's benefits may sway an optimistic customer who's ready to make a purchase. Understanding benefits allows an employee to honestly reflect on the positive aspects of a product.
Building trust with customers
Providing customers with accurate product information helps them view company employees as trustworthy sources of information. When employees provide product information that aligns with what customers have read online, it helps build trust. Establishing trust increases the chance of customers making a purchase.
Making a lasting impression
When employees interact with customers, it allows them to demonstrate their product knowledge and inform customers how a product can provide them with greater benefits than an offering from a competitor. This shows that employees understand the prospective client's needs while making a lasting, positive impression. When customers sense the seller cares about providing a pleasant, beneficial customer buying experience, they may be more apt to remember the company fondly and become repeat customers.
Types of product knowledge
Here are some important things for employees to know about company products:
Pricing structure: Many customers want to know the price of a product before they make a purchase. If a product comes in different models or pricing tiers, having this information ensures employees can give them the most accurate and up-to-date information.
Models, styles and colors available: Understanding product features ensures employees can present this information accurately and persuasively to every customer. This information may also increase the chances of making a sale because you're informing customers of all their options.
Product uses: Knowing how to use company products helps employees answer customers' questions about what exactly it does. In addition, it can help employees present a product as anticipating a customer's needs.
Service, warranty and repair information: If you're selling technology, customers may want to know about warranties and the cost of service or repair. This can help them plan for potential costs and determine whether they'd like to continue working with the company for any repair or replacement needs in the future.
How to improve product knowledge
If you're considering optimizing product knowledge policies, here are eight tips that can help you effectively educate the team members:
1. Offer practical experience
Allow employees to become familiar with the company's products through their own experiences. Whether you hold a meeting to let them test out the products or offer them an employee discount so they can purchase them, ensure they have exposure to what they're selling. Giving employees this opportunity allows them to share their personal experiences with future customers.
2. Encourage both conventional and creative information sources
Help employees get to know company products through a variety of sources. For example, encourage them to read product literature or to use feedback from customers and other team members. They can also gain information through online forums or visits to product manufacturers. The more sources you offer, the more well-rounded knowledge they can have.
3. Provide opportunities to practice
Give employees the chance to practice and improve their product knowledge. Consider techniques like role-playing or simulations to help salespeople apply what they've learned. For example, one employee can take the role of a customer, while the other can take on the role of a salesperson. This allows them to practice how they might describe a product in a real interaction with a customer.
4. Use microlearning
If employees find it easier to process information in small amounts at a time, consider a micro-learning approach. This method allows them to learn one module per product, which can make it easier for them to process and retain the information. If they're watching short videos to gain product knowledge, this method can even help them pay better attention for a shorter amount of time.
5. Focus on customer needs
As employees gain knowledge, make sure they anticipate customer needs. It also helps if they know the product features customers might find interesting. This approach allows each salesperson to present customers with a personalized answer based on each customer's needs. It also shows customers that the company's employees value them and have their best interests in mind.
6. Provide consistent training
Make sure every employee at the company undergoes the same type of training to ensure everyone has the same knowledge base. This allows for consistency and helps employees work as a team to retrieve the same information. Even if they may not be in a customer-facing role, it can help many employees to learn more about company offerings and what the business can offer customers.
7. Offer incentives
Consider improving product knowledge through an incentive program. For example, you can award points to an employee when they perform well in a knowledge test or a training exercise. You can then award perks when they attain a certain amount of points or complete another training section. You can offer prizes at the end of each month or every quarter. This keeps product knowledge training fun and keeps employees engaged. It also keeps them motivated and excited about their role and in sharing the products.
8. Hold out-of-office training
Give employees a change of scenery by taking training opportunities outside of the workplace. Training outside of their typical environment may provide them with greater motivation to learn and make training more fun and engaging for them. Consider sending them to a trade fair or a convention where they can network and earn valuable industry knowledge.
9. Consistently assess employee knowledge
Evaluate the employees' product knowledge at regular intervals. Consistently analyzing product knowledge at the company where you work can help you determine employee strengths and devise new strategies for continuing to optimize that product knowledge further. To make these evaluations as objective as possible, consider using data or measurable assessments, such as by giving employees periodic quizzes related to their understanding of the company's products.
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