05 Apr Knowledge vs skills in sales
Is it what you know or what you do that makes you successful in sales? Let’s try and find out.
You can tell a great company by how it onboards its salespeople. Most organisations put their new starters through a 3-or-so week programme before they are let loose on the phones and the company email, and that’s great. But, what are they doing in that time?
We see so many companies spending this valuable time teaching things to their salespeople that just aren’t necessary.
An example would be spending day after day talking about the product. Product knowledge has its place but compared to talking about the customer, the industry or even how to sell, it’s not really that important. Companies talk about their product because of vanity, not because it’s helpful to their salespeople. Let’s find out more.
Why you need product knowledge
I don’t want to dismiss product knowledge out of hand. When you know a lot about your product and can talk about it with confidence, it shows your prospect that you believe in what you sell. Product knowledge can help you answer questions. Perhaps, most importantly, it can help you map how your product solves a specific problem for your prospect.
But sales skills are essential
However, product knowledge is nothing if you don’t know how to present what you know in an effective way. That’s sales skills.
It’s your sales skills that help you build a relationship with a prospect or customer. It’s your sales skills that turn a sales pitch into a conversation. And more than product knowledge, it’s your sales skills that will help you identify a prospect’s pain points and position the thing you sell as the solution.
Your sales skills are the way you talk and the things you say, not what you know. In the end, that’s what will bring in revenue and make you money.
The combination for success
So while it’s a combination of knowledge and skills that make a great salesperson, skills by far outweigh the knowledge. It’s why very few business writers have written books about how to remember more stuff about your product!
If there was one area of knowledge that is possibly as important as sales skills, it’s industry knowledge. When you know what’s going on in your industry; the big players, the latest developments, the drivers of revenue, you’ll find it easier to have business conversations with your customers. Business conversations lead to more sales.
Next time you’re redesigning onboarding for your salespeople, by all means, talk about your product but make sure they’re learning the sales skills they’ll need to thrive when they hit the phones. Coaching, listening to live calls and roleplays will be your passport to success, not your product’s instruction manual.
Over to you
Now, we want to know what you think.
What do you see as the advantages of product knowledge in sales?
What sales skills do you wish you’d learned earlier?
Let us know with a comment below.