There’s no sugarcoating it, as a product marketer, salespeople are kinda pivotal to your success. You can put hours upon hours into nailing your product’s positioning and messaging but the reality is all that hard work can be undone in a matter of minutes if it’s not understood and acted on by your sales teams.

This question was asked in our Slack community last week:

We have a product release every quarter and our next one in January is a biggie. I'm putting together some sales enablement training and really want to get the team hyped about this particular release, does anyone have any ideas on how to structure the training in an engaging way?

And lots of product marketers stepped up with some top advice. It’s clearly a topic lots of us struggle with, so we decided to put it under the microscope in this very article.

1. Use real-life anecdotes

You telling salespeople your new product of feature is great and that your audience will love it is one thing, your target market telling them is another. At the end of the day, at the most basic level, sales reps’ only aim is to sell. The more convinced they are that what you’re telling them will help them do that, the more likely they are to sit-up and listen - and what illustrates that better than active testimonials?

So, if you have a beta version that’s been rolled out to X number of customers, pick their brains, compile their feedback, and let them do some of the pitching for you.

If you don’t have any pilot results, the next best alternative is your data. Presumably, you ran some research before going ahead with the new product or feature you’re about to launch (if you didn’t, eek!), so use those numbers to back yourself up.

For example, going in with this:

“Our research showed 65% of lost customers didn’t convert because we didn’t have this feature, so the fact we now have it will improve your odds of closing deals.”

Is waaaay stronger than:

“We’ve decided to add this feature to product X and it does this, this and this…”

Go in with a role reversal approach. This time, you’re the sellers and they’re the market. Sell your product or feature to them.

2. Make it interactive

Instead of speaking at your sales team for 15, 20 or 30 minutes, mix it up by incorporating a bit of role-play. As well as being more engaging, it’ll help them contextualise what you’re telling them and offer up some practical pitching tips, too.

Tip #1: make sure the people involved with the role-play are up for it and enthusiastic. Two people begrudgingly and half-heartedly acting in front of a room of sales reps won’t harbour the results you’re after.  

Tip #2: consider using your reps as the stars of the show. We’ll touch on this in more detail a little later on but often, salespeople are more likely to listen to other salespeople, so capitalising on this might make everyone more receptive to your efforts.

3. Use gamification

A lot of sales departments gamify their targets and day-to-day. The first person to reach X sales might get an early Friday finish. Every Thursday they might run a raffle. They might have an ongoing, quarterly leaderboard, so on and so forth.

If it works, it works, so get on their wavelength and consider adding an element of gamification to your launch. For example:

  • The first rep to make $XXXX in sales gets a $100 voucher, the second $75 and the third $50, or

  • The rep at the top of the deals closed leaderboard at the end of month one gets half a day in lieu.

Use your imagination, factor in what works best for your set-up and of course, remember to run your idea by the departmental heads first.

4. Split it up

From features to pricing to sales enablement collateral to messaging to demos to...you get the gist, there’s lots you need to communicate with sales teams before launch. So, instead of overwhelming them with info in one not-so-swift swoop, think about breaking it up into weekly sessions on specific subjects.

For example:

  • Week 1: product features, benefits and pricing
  • Week 2: messaging, positioning and marketing
  • Week 3: sales enablement collateral, etc.  

There are actually studies out there that show our attention spans are as short as 14 minutes and after that window’s passed, people start to drift out of focus. With that in mind, maybe try to keep each of your meetings within or around a quarter of an hour.

5. Star your salespeople

We promised we’d expand on this point earlier, and here we are. Rightly or wrongly, salespeople can be more inclined to pay attention to their own and whether we agree with it or not, it makes sense to take whichever approach is going to be most effective.

In practice, you could look to do this in a couple of ways:

Option 1

Sticking with the role-play idea, instead of using people from your product marketing team, recruit people from sales - just make sure you clue them up on the product or feature in advance.

Option 2

Get your reps to deliver all or part of your meetings. If you do go with this tactic though, just make sure you properly train them beforehand and you or someone else from your team is present to make sure they stick to the script and have support if any questions arise they’re unable to answer.

One last thing worth bearing in mind for this one is which salespeople you choose. To be truly effective the person/people you pick should be top performers and well-respected among the team.

6. Lead by example

Okay, so this one might sound basic, but it’s important. If you want your sales teams to be excited you need to emit that kind of vibe - and that means presenting with gusto and showing you’re genuinely pumped.

Being a great presenter is a skill and we don’t think it’s right to say “if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, pass it onto someone else in the team who’s good at it.” It’s cliche, we know, but practice really does make perfect, so use your launch meetings as an opportunity to grow and the more you do the better you’ll be.

Here are a few quick-fire tips to help you nail the essentials:

  • Do a practise run before you stand in front of sales
  • Come prepared with a few prompts as a safety blanket
  • Assert yourself both physically and vocally
  • Sit or stand upright, use gestures, and be mindful of your facial expressions
  • Speak confidently and loudly (without bellowing!)
  • Make eye contact with those in the room
  • Ask questions to get people involved
  • Don’t speak too quickly or slowly
  • Make sure your nerves don’t make you monotone
  • Remember to breathe and take a few sips of water if you need it.

7. Ask for feedback

This’ll help salespeople feel invested in the process and like they have a say.

Tip: not everyone likes sharing their thoughts in front of a room full of people so make sure you provide a more anonymous forum for them too.

Remember though, just because you ask for feedback it doesn’t mean you have to act on it but if you don’t, be sure to thank the person anyway and explain why their comments aren’t being taken any further right now.

So, there are our top seven tips. What’s worked well for you in the past? We’d love to hear in the comments below. 👇🏻