Mastering Product Knowledge

"Knowledge is like money: to be of value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity and, hopefully, in value." – Louis L’Amour

Product knowledge is simply the process of learning your products or services backwards and forwards.  Just like when you were in school studying for an exam, you will have to spend a considerable amount of time studying your products.  Instead of taking an exam and receiving a written grade, you will be selling these products to prospects in a real world setting.  How well you understand and can sell the products or services will translate into your weekly paycheck, sales commissions, and bonuses.  Therefore the more you study and refine your skills, then the more money you will make.   

To truly become an expert within your new product line, you will need to start using them as much as possible.  By using your products, you will begin developing a belief that your products are truly superior to the many alternatives.  A successful sales professional not only believes in his products but has a view of a raving fan. 

Assume for a moment that your new job is selling chemical dispensing units to hospitals in your local market.  Chemicals such as glass cleaner, floor cleaner, and multipurpose disinfectant cleaner are huge expenses to hospitals, as they are constantly having to clean and disinfect rooms after each new patient.  Before the invention of chemical dispensing units a few years ago, hospitals were forced to buy retail branded chemicals (such as Windex) in ready-to-use bottles from suppliers. 

However, now a hospital’s environmental services team can mix their own bottles of glass cleaner for a fraction of the cost whenever necessary.  This translates into a huge benefit to the hospital’s purchasing department, because they will experience up to a 90% reduction in chemical cost simply by installing a series of chemical dispensing units throughout the hospital.  Sounds easy, right?     

Well, before you ever meet with the hospital, would it not make sense to first learn everything about the chemicals you will be selling?  This means replacing your Windex at home with samples of the glass cleaner offered in your chemical dispenser. 

Remember, you are not just selling to the hospital’s purchasing department, but also the environmental services supervisor, let us call him Bill.  Bill has been using Windex in this hospital throughout his twenty five year career.  Chances are the very reason this hospital is still using Windex is because every other sales professional selling chemical dispensers could not convince Bill that their glass cleaner was better than Windex.  Because of his twenty five years of dedicated service, Bill has the ear of the CEO, and the change will not ever happen without Bill’s stamp of approval. 

However, if you have been using the same glass cleaner that you sell for the last six months at home, and you too used Windex for the last twenty five years before changing to your brand of glass cleaner, then you can fairly easily convince Bill to make the switch.  You have already experienced the pain associated with stepping outside your comfort zone and can speak exactly to the reservations Bill has about making the switch.  Not only can you tell him why, but you can also show him the benefits your glass cleaner has over Windex. 

You see Bill, Windex is an ammonia based product which immediately begins evaporating upon contact with glass surfaces.  SC Johnson, the makers of Windex, uses ammonia because they want you to use more product in every use, which results in you having to purchase Windex more often. 

However, with our non-ammoniated formula, we are able to provide a streak-free finish without the need for using so much product. Because our glass cleaner will not start evaporating on contact, your team will use less with each use which means the same 32-oz bottle will last substantially longer. 

This translates into less down time from refilling or restocking bottles in the middle of your team’s shifts.  Therefore your team becomes more productive with every passing hour and is able to more effectively do their jobs.  It also has a fresh scent which is preferred by a majority of our customers when compared to the heavy ammonia smell of Windex. 

Heck Bill, don’t tell anyone that I told you this, but my wife loves our Glass Cleaner and makes me bring it home to her from work.  Can you see the benefit of using our non-ammoniated glass cleaner Bill?” 

It is inevitable that you will be asked questions that you will not know the answer.  A good rule of thumb is to always provide your prospects with the most accurate information.  It is perfectly acceptable to tell a prospect that you do not know the answer but will find out for them. In the beginning this can be somewhat frustrating given your excitement about the possibility of getting a sale.  However, by taking the time to provide your prospects with the right answer, you will help build credibility and your brand for your long term success. 

You want to become known as a straight shooter, someone that always operates with honesty and integrity in everything you do.  At the same time, the actual process of uncovering the answer will help you with future sales calls.  Meaning once you find the answer to a particular question, then you know it from this point forward.  The next time the question is asked, then you will already know the answer and can continue without any slowing down of the sales process. 

The more technical your products or services, the longer it will take for you to become comfortable and an expert within your field.  The goal of course is for your sales calls to become fluid and natural, and for you to truly be viewed as a knowledgeable resource for your prospects and customers.

This is part 2 of a 3 part series.  See Becoming An Expert and The 3 Keys to Success.

If you would like more information about how to grow your brand and increase sales, then feel free to connect with our Founder, Chase Carlisle.  Chase has traveled all over the world consulting for various high-profile clients and helping them produce record breaking sales. His email is (Chasepedia@gmail.com).