In my last post as a product manager, sales training did not top my list of favorite things to do. The problem wasn’t the sales team, which was composed of bright, motivated people, with a genuine interest in what was coming next from the development team. Instead, the problem was with the format of sales training.

Who looks forward to three days of non-stop PowerPoint? Not me, and certainly not the audience. We had to come up with a better approach, particularly as the company expanded into new technology areas, such as records management and scanning. Therefore, we experimented with a few new ideas. Some worked, others didn’t.

One of the moderately successful experiments started with the assertion, "Scanning isn’t as complicated as people think it is. I bet that I could put a bag on my head, pretend to be the most stupid end user imaginable, and I could still understand scanning. Someone just needs to explain the basics in the most practical terms imaginable."

And here’s the result:

We did a few other videos in this series, with mixed results. Hell, at least it wasn’t another boring-ass PowerPoint presentation. The medium forced us to keep the message short, so we couldn’t obscure the important essentials under a pile of details. Maybe the details mattered, but we had to get passed the initial expectation that anything connected to the word scanning was boring and complicated.

The moral of the story is, as a product manager, you go where your audience is. Not where you think they are, or should be. When you’re writing requirements, or doing sales training, or anything else in your job, you have to know your audience, and find whatever medium works best for them.