the most powerful method for training the sales force

Internal communication represents the most powerful method for training the sales force—and reducing requests for sales support calls. Product management can educate using white papers, published positioning statements, long term direction articles, and general industry notes. Tactical tools stored in a desk are worthless; they must be published internally to be effective. “Publish or perish” is as true for product leaders as it is for academics: if the company does not know what you do, then what you do is not important to the company.

One product manager received daily calls about a complimentary product that was not offered by his company. He continued to answer questions from the different sales people about how the product worked, what it cost and who to call for more information. I recommended that he answer the questions in print, share the document on the sales portal for all sales people, and refer them to that document if they called. Surprise! no more calls.

Note well: anything you publish internally will be distributed externally. Sadly, the use of “Confidential” on a document almost guarantees that customers and competitors will obtain it. Therefore, never say anything in print that you do not want the customer, the competition, and the press to read. I once put a note within a document to our competition, giving a cash prize if they called. “Joanne, call me when you read this.” Sure enough, she called in only a few days. In our discussion she told us that she usually obtained our internal documents on the day they were published.

It does no good to complain about others' product knowledge if you're not making the information available in a format and a location that serves your audience. Your head is not a content management system.