They are right, of course. Because of my years in business-to-business outside sales, I admit, I took product knowledge as a given. Wrong. I know better. Not every salesperson is committed to a career. For some it’s just a job, a paycheck. On the other hand, successful salespeople grab all the product training they can get. They never rely on their employers for all of it. They take what the company is able to give and then dig further. They ask questions to really understand how the products and services work and why they are important to your customers.
Product knowledge is important, whatever style of sales or whatever marketing you do, hard sell or soft sell. When I got started in selling microcomputers in 1981, I stayed after hours to practice with the company computers so I could master word processing and spreadsheets. I also studied our other programs. Because I knew my products, I projected confidence and enthusiasm for what these products could do to improve my customers’ efficiency and their lives. And my practice of researching continues to this day. It’s essential for anyone wanting a happy and successful career in sales to develop strong product knowledge — especially about the benefits to your customers.
Then as a soft sell salesperson, you need to discipline yourself to not use your product knowledge until you earn the right, which you do by asking enough questions to understand your prospect’s situation. How long this takes depends on many factors. Typically, though, retail sales don’t take as long as business-to-business sales because the problems tend to be more straight forward and less investment. But even there, you need to ask about what is most important to them in this purchase. Then, in every case, once you have earned the right to advise your prospect, to help your customers buy, you need to know enough to give the right suggestions and to answer questions.
To repeat the point of this article, don’t forget the facts. Soft sell sales isn’t just about the customer’s situation, which you must understand before doing any selling. It’s also about helping him or her to solve a problem or fulfill a desire. That means you need to know first about your products and services and secondly about the benefits they deliver so that you can, in fact, be a trusted adviser.
My first Kindle eBook, How Relationship Selling Rewards Small Businesses, went live on April 24, 2012. https://amzn.to/2BaP2AH I've lived a lifetime of service and spiritual search so it's natural for me to incorporate these attitudes into my work. I believe that selling and marketing are spiritual service when done with a heart-centered, relationship selling approach. All of business success comes down to building strong relationships.
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