December 18, 2019
What is Product Knowledge and How to Develop It
Sales teams are the beating heart of any company. These guys pull new customers through the door and drive demand by convincing people to part with their hard-earned cash.
When it comes to sales, knowledge is power. The more your salespeople know about your products or services, the more they’ll sell.
You can have the most amazing product on the market, but if your sales team isn’t equipped with the knowledge they need to understand what the product delivers that will ease your customers pain, you’ll struggle to grow.
Join us as we explore how your business can empower employees with product and industry knowledge to deliver sky-high sales figures.
What Does Product Knowledge Mean?
Most simply put, product knowledge is your sales team’s ability to understand the full scope and functionality of the product or service and what tangible benefits purchasing it will give to your potential new customers.
If your sales team wants to smash through their targets, they’ll need to understand what they’re selling and how potential customers will benefit from investing in their products.
Not only does understanding products make for a more polished sales pitch, but it also helps customers build trust and loyalty with your brand.
Research from HubSpot shows that 93% of customers will make repeat purchases from companies that offer great customer service. So, building a loyal customer following could seriously benefit your bottom line.
Part of delivering excellent customer service is finding unique, personal ways to connect with customers. No one likes being shmoosed with fluffy sales speak. Talk to your customers (not at them), understand their pain points, be honest about how your product or service can address the issue and any additional services like amazing after care support so your customer will find it hard to dismiss.
How to Develop Product Knowledge
Thankfully, there are some excellent and easy ways to promote product knowledge and help your teams develop to make your product shine.
1. The more you understand, the more you can offer.
Take the time to fully understand your product. How does it work? How would people use it?
As salespeople learn more about the products, they’ll discover features and customer benefits that will help them to fine tune their sales engagement and attract the right target customers.
Every customer is unique, but your product solves a specific range of problem. Tailor your customer meeting and focus on understanding their business, do your research, and if you have engaged with this type of customer before you’ll hopefully have some experience of potential challenges and have your responses easily to hand.
To illustrate the value of understanding your product, let’s imagine you’re a salesperson for a B2B software company who license a productivity app to businesses of all sizes.
If you’re pitching to a small organisation, you might choose to pitch for your app allows users to assign tasks to individual employees and manage workflows through a simple to use interface, saving lots of man hours.
However, if you’re pitching to a large organisation who already use a competitor’s app, you will need to focus on additional features and the benefits these would bring to the customer – again think improving processes to save time and money. Although, let’s be honest, unless they approached you and want to change as not happy with their current solution it’s going to be tough to get them to buy a replacement when there could have been a big investment in effort and cost.
Research from Salesforce shows that customer satisfaction remains a top priority for 66% of sales teams as focusing on customer’s needs and identifying unique ways to connect with them, allows for greater growth and more sales.
2. Identify product flaws
Sales teams need to acknowledge that the perfect product doesn’t exist.
Understanding the limitations of a product helps salespeople present honest claims and avoid disappointed customers further down the line. Technical teams should work closely with salespeople to communicate any product flaws and explain how these could negatively impact the user experience.
After all, broken or false promises can have a negative impact on your bottom line. A white paper on broken promises by Accenture shows that 38% of customers leave soon after being let down by a false promise.
Crucially, understanding the limitations of a product can be turned on its head to present something positive to potential customers. Salespeople can work with marketing teams to pitch exciting future developments that resolve the existing limitations of a product.
People like to invest in progressive brands who are receptive to issues and are always on the hunt for technical solutions to improve the quality of their products. So, be honest about what you can offer and make the most of product flaws to get people excited about future developments.
3. Industry knowledge is key
Understanding your product is important, but it isn’t always enough to convince potential customers to choose your business over competitors.
Before approaching customers, make sure you know your stuff and be prepared with a solid understanding of how their industry works. Whether it’s keeping an eye on new entrants to the market, staying up-to-date with the latest research, or knowing your way around a market can give you an edge over the competition.
Customers want to invest in market leaders who understand the perils of an industry and prove they have what it takes to deliver on their promises. People are unlikely to part with their hard-earned cash if a salesperson doesn’t take the time to do their homework and understand how their product fits within the industry.
The key to successful selling is to position your product within the market and explain how your product can solve customer problems in a more effective way that competitive solutions.
4. Channel your inner confidence
Half-hearted selling won’t get you anywhere if you’re dealing with industry experts.
B2B sales teams are often selling products to customers who know their stuff in a very niche field. A solid understanding of products gives salespeople the confidence they need to approach experts without fear of embarrassment or being unable to answer technical questions.
Strong salespeople will focus on the areas where their business outperforms competitors and explain how potential customers can benefit from choosing their products. This kind of negotiation requires a detailed understanding of other products on the market and an ability to stand-up for the technical integrity of what you’re selling.
Product knowledge training activities
Whether it’s straight-forward training sessions, using sales reps to manage regional groups of salespeople, or perfecting pitching skills with role play, there are tonnes of ways to empower your sales teams with product knowledge.
Crucially, if you’re selling a physical product, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the manufacturing process and communicate how this compares to competitor products. In this case, our top tip is to give your sales team first-hand experience on the factory floor.
Placing salespeople on rotations in different areas of your business is the best way to educate them about what goes into creating your products from start to finish.
Additionally, if your business sells multiple products, collaboration between your marketing and sales team will give your salespeople a better idea of how products can be sold in bundles to maximise user experience.
Questions your sales team should be able to answer
- How much do your products cost? Is there a price structure?
- Is there a unique story behind your brand?
- What’s the user intent? How will your products help customers?
- How are your products manufactured?
- Do your products come with any support, servicing or warranty agreements?
- How are your products distributed/installed?
Realise the importance of product knowledge in sales
Knowledgeable sales teams who understand what they’re selling and can communicate the value of their products often outperform those that don’t. However, when you’re managing a large sales team it’s hard to keep everyone informed and on the same page.
A mobile, digital platform like Collude makes it easy to share product updates, customer research and much more. Sales reps can ask questions to gain a better understanding of the product and provide feedback on sales techniques that work.
With Collude on your side, you can empower your sales teams and help them realise the benefits of product knowledge.
Knowledge really is power.