How Product Knowledge Affects Sales

knowledge builds confidence

When I want anything to do with cell phones I go to see Michael at 2 Degrees in the Palmy Plaza. I often have to wait to see him as he is the most popular sales rep. It is worth the wait as he “knows his stuff”. Can you relate to this - having a sales rep worth waiting for, your own “go-to” person?

How many people would see you as the “go-to” person?

I was not always with 2Degrees. October 2004 I landed in NZ needing a phone. Seeing Vodafone on Lambton Quay, I walked in and, having come from Zimbabwe where mobile phones were a luxury, was delighted to be sold a contract. Almost ten years on I was still with Vodafone despite some hiccups along the way. My new phone was almost due for renewal and I wanted the new Galaxy S5. I went in store and found a young sales girl slouching in the corner obviously wishing 5:30 would arrive quicker.

A direct “Can you help me please?” meant that I could no longer be ignored. I asked if I could upgrade early and what followed was a classic scenario that would have fitted right into a Fawlty Towers episode and kept many a dinner conversation going. The long and short of it was that I apparently could not upgrade. Having done it previously I knew I could. I chose to walk across the aisle to 2 Degrees. The contrast was refreshing. I could change providers instantly, would have to pay an out clause to Vodafone, would get double the offering for approximately half the investment. By the time 5:30 rolled around I had paid my out clause, changed providers and was proud owner of a new S5.

What has this to do with sales confidence? Everything.

As mentioned in confidence sells people sell products and services that they feel the most comfortable with. The more we know a product or service and what it can do, how it helps, why it is a great buy - the more we see it as something that would be good for other people to have and so we proactively promote it. Our obvious belief in what we are selling comes across and that confidence is quickly transferred.

Test Yourself and your team

Here is one of my favourite exercises to run a sales team through:

Ask your team to get them to list all the products and services the company offers - most can’t or struggle to remember without prompting.

Next run their sales figures on which products they sell the most of. No surprises for guessing that most reps fall into the 80/20 rule - 80% of their sales come predominantly from only 20% of the range offered. [The surprise here for many reps is that their 20% is rarely the same as someone else’s 20%. There is overlap on the popular sellers but each rep has his/her favourite]

Get the team to share why they sell what they sell. What pitch do they use. What features, advantages, benefits (FAB) roll off their tongue.What stories do they have. What has fueled their belief and passion of the product/service. You want to unpack this because success fuels success.

Try this fun activity*:

Find the rep with the lowest sales of the product and get them to be the client with all the objections they have ever heard in relation to the product. The have the top sales rep sell them the product while the rest of the team watches and learns. It is amazing how often you will hear, “Oh wow, I did not know that”; “That is such a great story”; “Oh, I never thought about it like that”; etc.

Top Tips

Challenge every team member to learn one new thing every day. Create a game where team members challenge each other with “Tell me something about our offering as a company that I do not know”. Knowledge builds on knowledge. Like pieces of a jigsaw they suddenly come together to reveal a true picture of what you a capable of offering a client.

Make it a regular section in sales meetings to have team members share/demo/pitch a product to the rest of the team. Invite in suppliers to do the same - many will be delighted you asked and often have very comprehensive training. Video all these training sessions to build a knowledge library.

Knowledge pyramid
Attitude, sales skills and product knowledge are often identified as the 3 essentials of any successful salesperson.

Deliberately ensuring you have a learning culture where there is an expectation for your reps to be the most knowledgeable in the industry, can make you stand head and shoulders above your competition. Becoming a “go-to” brand can be integrated onto your culture when learning is facilitated, endorsed, practised and praised.

Ensure you have a learning culture in your team. As always, if we can be of any assistance, please do get in touch.