It’s not a news flash that salespeople who know their product the best earn more than the ones who can’t find the power button. A 2014 University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business study showed that retail sales associates who took just one session of brand-specific training sold 87 percent more than their colleagues that didn’t. Why? Because buyers don’t want to see you tap dance – they want you to be a resource.
Be Like The Librarian
Remember being completely overwhelmed in the 6th grade having to do a report on Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and not knowing where to start? Remember how much of a relief it was when the librarian offered to help? Be like the librarian. Your clients will respect and appreciate you so much more for being a resource, rather than a flashy salesperson.
Knowledge Is Power
Product expertise separates the strongest salespeople from the weakest in every way. Case in point:
- You know your product so you speak confidently and answer any questions with authority, developing trust and respect with your client
- You know who will be using your product, how they will be using it, and why and will be able to anticipate the needs and concerns of your client
- You know your product’s place in the market and why it’s a cut above the competition
- Throughout the sales relationship you remain a resource for your client, strengthening trust and the likelihood of future business
Whether it’s B2C or B2B, every sales relationship begins and ends with how well you represent yourself and your product.
So, guess what, you should know what you’re talking about. You wouldn’t go to a Dubstep concert talking about Dave Matthews: Don’t go to a client expecting to sell when you’re not on their level.
I used to work for a company called Open Environment that sold middleware software to integrate mainframe applications with then newly created client/server applications. The technical salespeople who deeply understood the needs of their client did astronomically better at selling the product than those who didn’t. If they were natives to the industry they were selling into, even better.
When I had a client who made synthetic ligaments, guess who made the most sales? The doctors on the sales staff who could demonstrate how the product worked and translate it into the bottom line. Makes sense, right?
Of course we aren’t all lucky enough to have the advantage of being natives in a highly technical industry but you can come close by becoming as familiar as possible, which brings me to my next point.
Successful Salespeople Take the Initiative
It’s up to YOU to take the initiative to know the product inside and out. Know the technical specs, know the compatibilities, know the limits, know the advantages. Bend your mind until you think so far outside the box you get lost. I know a legendary sales woman who sold software for one of the juggernauts in her industry and she poured over every aspect from the technical specs to the company history and earnings reports – that’s a bit much, but she was the best at what she did because she was ready for anything.
Take advantage of every kind of training your company offers, talk to clients even when you don’t need or want to make a sale. Be honest, open, interested and empathetic to their needs. Think about what challenges your client faces on a day-to-day basis, how many people it is they are answering to and what the success of their purchase from you depends upon.
Be on your client’s level, don’t patronize them with flashy sales techniques because they’ll see through you faster than the invisible man.
And always remember. Be like the librarian.
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