A hard lesson well learnt

a hard lesson
Have you ever had your confidence totally crushed through a lack of product knowledge?

Do you avoid pushing certain products & services because you fear the ‘curly question’?

Are you like most sales reps and predominantly sell 20% of your product range because you feel the most comfortable and comfortable selling those?

If you are nodding and answering yes to those questions the great news is that you can increase your sales through a very simple mindset strategy. I learnt this the hard way and share the story here in the hope that you miss the hard experience and benefit from a life changing lesson learnt.

Being a production manager by training, I had the good fortune to start on the factory floor and work my way up. Working for the Treger group, in Zimbabwe, I joined a trainee production management programme. Graduating, I went on to become the technical production manager for the steel window and door frame factory. I knew everything about steel windows and doors, having personally done every process. This was epitomised one day on site with Bulawayo’s leading architect. He had designed and specified a door that spanned an impressive length giving a panoramic view of the stunning African bushveld. There was only one problem. It was not going to work. As a young 20-something I had not fully learnt the delicate nuances of communication and rather bluntly told the 60-something architect, “It won’t work!”. This led to a rather heated debate which ended with me stating “Look! That design is going to leak! If you want that aesthetic effect we will have to do this this…”. He agreed. We made the door and went on to form a strong relationship over future years as I became a trusted advisor.

Then I moved to New Zealand.

I was selling wooden kitchens which went into houses built of wooden frames and clad in plaster of paris board! I was clueless. When I was first shown how to find a stud by knocking a wall I laughed because I thought the guy was pulling my leg. In Zimbabwe brick houses allow you to drill a hole in the wall wherever you want. On the showroom floor I found myself getting anxious when I had to serve. Every woman who walked through the door knew more about kitchens than I did. My confidence plummeted.

From the lofty heights of challenging architects, I found a housewife wanting a new kitchen intimidating.

Observing this I made myself stop and analyse why. The answer - I felt like I had no product knowledge. I overcame this in 2 ways.

  1. Stopped expecting myself to know everything and understand that I was there to serve. Approaching everything I did with the mindset that I would give the best service, stopped my confidence from being founded on product knowledge. Confidence based on an eager  desire to serve is a lot stronger.
  2. Learn at least one new thing every day. Knowledge is like a jigsaw puzzle. As you learn bits of information, they seem to suddenly come together a form a fuller picture of understanding.

Approach your work with a heart of service and, because you want to serve better every day, learn as much as you can and sales and repeat clients will be the natural outcome.