Introduction:

Product knowledge is the in depth understanding of what your company sells. This includes an understanding of the facts and figures, the benefits, your competitors, your prospects, and the marketplace. Because at the end of the day if you don’t understand your product, how do you expect other people to do business with you? As always if you have any questions please schedule a free 30-minute consultation and I’ll do my best to help in any way I can.

 

What we’re going to cover

  • Product Knowledge
  • The fit
  • Competitors
  • Marketplace

 

 

 

Product Knowledge

 

Facts and figures

“Most of the time when people hear product knowledge they’re thinking about just spitting out all these details about the products and services that they’re selling. I’d say when you talk about product knowledge you need to widen your view and understand that it’s more than just having facts and figures in your head, it’s understanding a number of things and first and foremost it’s your product.”

 

Benefits

“It’s understanding where it benefits the prospect, how it helps them, and the strengths and weaknesses of your product. Where the customer pain points are and where the needs are for your prospects.”

 

Think about it like this:

“What do you do as a hobby? I fish and I have a good understanding of how a fishing rod works and the specific types of line that I have to use. For example, if I’m flounder fishing off the surf versus fishing for a larger type fish like a striped bass, what kind of rod do I need for that? I know enough to be good at what I do and catch a reasonable amount of fish.”

“When I got into a store and I purchase a product my expectation is that the sales rep understands that product enough that I can give them my specific situation and they can bring back to me something that fits what I’m trying to do. So, if I’m fishing for flounder and they bring me a fresh water rod and reel set up, that’s not going to work, and I’m not going to be happy.”

 

The fit

 

Your product

“The fit is how your product fits with a specific client or prospect. So, you have to figure out their needs and then match your product. That’s pretty simple, right?”

“But here’s the rub, if you don’t know your product how do you know what types of questions to ask? How do you know how to ask customers the types of questions that are going to drive the answers to help you understand if your product fits their specific needs?”

 

Questioning

“Next you need to figure out your line of questioning. You start the conversation then ask questions, deeper questions, that are related to the product without talking about the product because you’re trying to get an understanding of what it is that they need help with.”

 

Demonstrate

“Then when all that is done what are you expected to do? You’re expected to demonstrate to them that you understand their problems, you understand your product, and you can provide proof on how it fits their need.”

 

 Bigger picture

“It’s more than just asking a few questions. I think what you see often is sales reps jumping into product early on in the sales cycle and, when you see that, that’s more a fallback position because it’s easy to have that conversation. It’s not easy to uncover the need and bring the puzzle together.”
 

Competitors

 

Who are they?

“If you know who your competitors are, the companies that you’re competing with on a daily, weekly, monthly, basis, you better understand yourself.”

“Who are they? What are their strengths? What works on their product? What works well on their product? What are the weaknesses of their product against yours and against how it fits with the customer? How do they attack you? Are they price driven?”

 

How they attack you

“So, they know you’re a value company and you sell at a little higher price so do they come in with the special of the month? Are they pushing the envelope on that?”

“I know in a previous lifetime I was selling products and services that were always higher than everybody else so we had to sell value of service and I knew the competitors that really went after price. I knew exactly what they were going to do and how they were going to do it. And I could tell people before they did it. So, we understood the competitors and that helped quite a bit.”
 

Their product

“What does their product do well? Where are the weaknesses in their product? What are they going to avoid in that meeting? And what are they going to press on?”

“Understand the competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, how they attack, so you can counter attack before they even get out of bed in the morning”
 

Marketplace

 

Marketing

“When it comes to product knowledge there are different buckets we get information on.”

  1. If we’re a reseller of products, the manufacturer provides you with brochures and information that you can talk about in detail based on their messaging.
  2. The stuff that comes from your marketing engine on your products and services and how it fits in the marketplace and things you talk about related to the prospect need.
  3. Then from a sales perspective, how you have been trained and developed and what your manager pushes and the other salespeople in terms of the product mix.

 

Ideal Prospect

“You need to get with marketing, you need to understand the companies messaging, what is the company trying to project here? What does the ideal prospect look like for sales and in marketing they call that the persona.”
 

Pricing

“What does that look like and how does pricing fit into all of that? Where are we trying to market? Are we trying to market to our strengths (obviously we are)? What are we trying to push on a specific product or service? Because we need to make sure product knowledge matches how the company is marketing it. “
 

Sales Team

 

Where are you?

“My guess is you’re somewhere in the middle with your product knowledge because most people are.”

Type 1.

“You have some reps who rely heavily on their product knowledge because that’s how they sell, they start the conversation with a product and they just run right through it.”

“If that’s the case, you need to do some development with them and get them to the point where they’re doing some pre-call research, they’re having real quality conversations with their prospects or customers and they’re trying to understand the need and presenting the product as it fits that need. And you will find that from a pricing perspective they will do well.”
 

Type 2.

“For those that don’t have any product knowledge and there are some that are selling a lot for your company my expectation would be to expand that. The more they know about the product the better they’re going to sell and the more they’re going to sell. I don’t care if they’re at the top, they can sell more.”

“If this is the case you need to expand product training. Then what I would do is bring in, a lot of the times they have these manufacturers that come in and providers, they have people that do that, that’s fine. They can give you the feeds and the speeds and all the specs and all that good stuff.”

 

Role play

“Where you’re really going to make progress and move forward is the role playing. The role playing based on product knowledge, the role-playing based on real life deals.”

 

Real life deals

“So it’s not hard to sit down with your team and individually each rep come up with a deal that they have worked with and walk through the fit, the need. If you need to bring in some folks from the company that has supported the deal once it’s been in place and talked about the end result, you should do that. That way you get a well-rounded understanding of why they went with you.”

 

Start now.

“This is something you can own right away, you don’t have to wait for somebody to send you away to a class or buy something for you. This is something you can work on your own as an individual rep, as an individual manager or as a team. You can make progress in a very short amount of time on product knowledge, it doesn’t require a lot of heavy lifting.”

“Then once you get that ball rolling, then I’d build it into my onboarding program and make sure everybody that comes into my company understands their product.”

 

Keep Filling The Funnel

We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover.  You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at jshea@alignment-group.com.  And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.

 

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