The Death Trap of Product Knowledge
It’s Sunday night and I am writing to you from my living room table as my wife Shannon and daughter Mischa watch “Dancing with the Stars”.
This week was a real eye opener.
I had preliminary meetings with 3 businesses with 15 plus sales people who have never done any
structured, on going training or coaching with their sales teams.
Opting only for “product knowledge” training.
WHY SALES PEOPLE CANNOT THRIVE ON PRODUCT KNOWLEDGE ALONE
Now don’t get me wrong I agree that product knowledge is important, but let me give you a real life example of how too much emphasis on product knowledge to the exclusion of all else can go horribly wrong.
I bought a new vacuum cleaner today from Harvey Norman in Busselton.
Normally, I wouldn’t have made the purchase out of principal because the service was so bad, but today I was on a pretty tight schedule so I put up with it.
So here’s me turning a negative into a positive (almost).
So here’s what happened.
I walk in and immediately have the feeling of being pounced upon by the sales guy. “Can I help you with anything”?
He hasn’t read my personal space requirements and has an impatient “I really couldn’t care less about you I’m just trying to flog as much as I can today” way about him.
Points for greeting me in the first 30 seconds, sure, but I would have preferred to have the chance to at least walk to the vacuum cleaners first before speaking to him.
After replying that I’m after a new vacuum cleaner, this guy immediately tries to “sell” me a $1000 Dyson vacuum cleaner.
Now couple of points to note here:
- Firstly, if I could have seen the value I wouldn’t have a problem buying a $1000 Dyson vacuum cleaner.
- Secondly I didn’t buy the cheaper vacuum cleaner out of spite, I simply purchased to the level of value that I perceived.
- Thirdly, in principal, starting from the top of the price choice and working down is normally a good thing in retail but not before you have found out what your client wants and only in the context of what would work best for the client (based on their needs).
Here’s what he could have done better.
The only question he asked me about my situation was “how many carpeted areas do you have?”.
Sorry buddy – if you want me to spend that kind of money on a vacuum cleaner you’re gonna have to do better than that.
To make matters worse, he established no rapport with me at the front end and therefore planted no seeds for me to return and purchase anything else from them (or him) in the future.
This dude was so “hell bent” on “selling” me a Dyson Vacuum cleaner that I literally had to step over him to look at the vacuum cleaners on display (he was literally trying to stop me looking at them!!).
He even used the old “this is the one that I use at home” line.
Buddy – I hate to be the one to tell you this but… this is 2010 people won’t fall for that BS anymore.
I can think of about 7 key questions he could have asked that would have given him more than enough info to make me an informed recommendation.
Here’s a couple straight off the top of my head.
What vacuum do you have now?
How long have you had it?
Why are you replacing it?
Do you have children?
What percentage of your home is carpeted?
Do you use a vacuum to clean your car?
If he’d done this, he’d have learned enough information to make a great recommendation.
He’d have also positioned himself as an expert – and not a “neck bone” who probably gets some type of extra commission from Dyson for selling their cleaners (unfortunately if they are it backfired on this occasion).
Sadly, this is pretty typical of the type of sales people many of us encounter everyday.
You see if you give sales people product knowledge but don’t give them training on how to insert that knowledge into a sales conversation and sales process, all they will do with your clients is give them the “product spin”.
I would love anyone’s horror story of bad sales experiences – please leave a comment on the this blog and I will put the best ones in the next update.
SO – HERE’S WHAT WE ARE DOING ABOUT IT – and how you can do something about it.
We’re running a New Sales Science Seminar on the 23rd August at the Parmelia Hilton Hotel in Perth City 6.30pm -9.30pm.
If you have a feeling you’re sales system is in dire need of an upgrade please take us up on this offer – it’s a rare opportunity for you to discover for yourself the secrets we normally only share with a select few clients.
We had rave reviews from the last one we ran – in fact moving any further into the new economy we are experiencing right now without this knowledge could be likened to sending your troops into battle unarmed.
Have a fantastic week.