Product Knowledge

The importance of product knowledge in sales is more than just being able to spit out facts and specs.  It goes much deeper than that. Although the facts and figures are important, it is necessary to widen the view.

For one, you want to know how your product will benefit the user.  How will it help the customer to solve their problem?  This means you should know the product’s strengths and weaknesses. This way you will be able to have a deeper conversation about the product with your clients.

Think about the product in the same way that you would think about a hobby and how you would shop for items you need for your hobby.  For instance, if you like to fish and like to go after various kinds of fish, you need different rods and different tests of line depending on what you are trying to catch.  When you go to the store to make a purchase and are not quite sure how to set the rod tension properly for the fish you want and the line you are using, you want the sales person to be able to help you.  In other words, when you understand exactly what the product is and how it is used, you will be able to help the customers who come to you with a problem.

The sales reps on your team need to understand the product well enough so that they will be able to help the customers with the needs they have.  If they do not understand the products and services you offer, the customer will go elsewhere.
 

The Fit

With the importance of product knowledge in sales comes ‘the fit’. In other words, sales reps need to know how the product will benefit individual clients.  If they are not familiar enough with the product then they will not be able to determine the types of questions to ask the clients.  This also means that they will not have a good idea of whether or not the product will meet the client’s needs.

Sales reps need to be able to understand each prospect they speak to so that they can gear questions and information to each customer and provide what they need.  This means that the rep needs to do some pre-call planning to know what the company does and what problem they may be looking to address.  The rep can use some planning time to figure out a good line of questioning and consider the deeper questions that will need to be asked.

Once the initial groundwork has been laid the sales rep can go in and demonstrate the product and be able to show that they understand the problem and know how to solve it.  They will go in pre-armed with knowledge and have proof that your product will fit the needs of the client.

All too frequently, sales reps jump into information about the product too early in the sales cycle and they have not worked on building a relationship with the client. But first, a sales rep needs to start by spending the time to discover the need the client has so they know how to best approach the situation.
 

Competitors

The next step in understanding product knowledge is understanding your competitors. It is important for everyone on the team to know who the competitors are so that they know what they are up against.  How does the competitors’ product stack up against the product you sell?  Meaning, you should know the strengths and weaknesses of the product versus the strengths and weakness of your own so that you will be able to answer any questions the client may have.

You will also want to consider how the product fits the client’s needs.  What makes your product a better choice than the competitors?  Consider how the other sales reps from another company will attack your product so that you have the answer that the client is looking for.

Then, think about how the competitors sell. Are they price driven or is there is another gimmick of some kind that they use to beat out their competition?  You want all of your reps to know your product and to know as much about the competitors as they can as well.

It will help sales if you understand the competitors.  Know what their product does well and where it is weak and know the ins and outs of your own product so that you will be able to compare the two if need be.
 

Marketplace

It is also important to know where your product fits in the marketplace.  Consider the image that your company wants to project and make sure that it is happening as it should.  Know the marketplace and know the persona of your ideal buyer.  This will help you to move sales more quickly.

This includes considering the price of your product and how it compares with the price of similar products.  Most buyers will be savvy enough to shop around so you need to be able to discuss why your product is priced as it is and know where it falls in with competitors.

 

Sales Team

The reality is, most sales teams are somewhere in the middle when it comes to project knowledge.  It is beneficial to take some time with your team to get them above that line so that they have a foot up on the competition.

One way to do this is to expand product training.  Work on having reps know the product inside and out so they are able to have deeper conversations with the customers.  It may help out to bring in some manufacturers who do training and help to increase product knowledge.  They can answer any questions the reps might have so that they are armed with the most current and up to date information to take into the field.

Another way to work with your sales team is to role play real life situations in order to help the reps expand their knowledge.  More knowledge will result in more opportunities.  Role play can also be done in a number of ways so that you can minimize the time that reps are pulled from a territory.  You can role play with individual reps or with the team as a whole.

Once the sales reps you already have are up to date with product knowledge, take time to build this kind of training into your onboarding program.  Keep in mind that learning about the product is an ongoing process in order to keep up with any product changes and trends in the field.  The more training you can do in product knowledge, the more capable your sales team will be of selling it.

 

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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