In days gone by, whenever anyone mentioned “knowledge,” there would be an immediate assumption that they were going to discuss product knowledge: That is understandable; even today, 80 per cent of all training budgets are spent (invested?) on teaching sales teams all there is to know about the “product range”
The reality is that product knowledge is no longer a differentiator. It is a very basic requirement of all successful frontline sales professionals. In other words, it’s part of the entrance exam – not a higher qualification.
Today, knowledge really is power, and that means ..
– Industry knowledge
– Sector knowledge
– Competitive knowledge
– Company knowledge
– Business knowledge (acumen)
As the discussions and debates continue regarding the future of professional selling, one fact is very clear: The relevance of a salesperson in the “buying process”- yes, we have moved away from the “sales process” – is becoming increasingly diminished. This is quite simply because buyers – who are more self-educated than ever – are entering the cycle so much later.
That’s why our interactions with buyers need to be wholly relevant.
Wholly relevantmeans using our knowledge – our complete knowledge – to justify our right to be part of a customer’s purchasing process.
As we move up the food chain, our ability to use different “languages”also becomes increasingly important. We have to become commercially “multi-lingual” because C-level executives, for example, rarely use the same language as members of an information technology team. And both groups naturally have different sets of buying criteria.
In the very near future, having the right attitude, a broad range of sales skills, and familiarity with internal consultative sales processes will not guarantee our survival. The key will be the extent of our “commercial bandwidth” – and that means our knowledge.
PS: This week’s Top Sales Magazine has just been published: We have an excellent interview with Etien D’Hollander, CEO of Front Row Solutions, plus superb articles from Geoffrey James, Miles Austin, Babette Ten-Haken and Nancy Nardin.
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