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Effective product knowledge training prepares employees, customers and partners to describe product features and benefits. Depending on the target audience, participants learn to sell to potential buyers, troubleshoot problems with existing customers or provide feedback to development teams on usage and satisfaction. Companies typically maintain a website to allow participants to register for training courses, sign up for newsletters, download reference materials and participate in communities. By offering different formats, such as lectures, seminars, workshops, webinars and self-paced alternatives, companies provide product knowledge training suited to the learning style of every busy professional.
Product knowledge training typically features a combination of classroom training, web-based training and exams. Companies list a curriculum path or learning plan that specifies the order that participants in their product training program should complete. Each section begins with learning objectives that specify what type of product knowledge the learner can expect. Course materials usually provide text, graphics and other multimedia elements to describe the product, such as the technology behind it, the customers who use it and typical uses.
Upon completion of product knowledge training, participants typically have the ability to describe the product’s features, benefits and usage. For example, product knowledge training for computer hardware products usually prepares learners to describe how to set up, install and maintain equipment. Software knowledge product training usually prepares learners to describe how to install, configure and use software applications. Training provides opportunities for participants to ask experts questions about the product. Additionally, social media technology, such as wikis, blogs and forums, allow employees to get support and share information after the course has completed.
Types of Information
Information typically covered in product knowledge training includes terminology explanations and examples that define concepts. Multimedia, such as graphics, audio and video provide participants with details about the product. Simulations and demonstrations provide an introduction to products not yet available. Portfolio training usually provides relevant sales information, highlights market overview and describes the competitive environment. Sales personnel use this information to sell solutions to solve customer problems. Support personnel use this information to answer customer questions and troubleshoot problems.
Certification levels typically include entry, foundational, intermediate and master. For example, employees complete product knowledge training, use self-study guides to prepare for a certification exam, provide referrals, submit an application, take an exam and sometimes present a case study to a review board to receive their credential. Information Technology professionals often possess multiple certifications, such as from Cisco, Apple, Microsoft and other companies. These represent expertise in networking, storage, server and software products.
- “Designing Effective Instruction”; Gary R. Morrison, Steven M. Ross, Jerrold E. Kemp, and Howard Kalman; 2010
Tara Duggan is a Project Management Professional (PMP) specializing in knowledge management and instructional design. For over 25 years she has developed quality training materials for a variety of products and services supporting such companies as Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq and HP. Her freelance work is published on various websites.