Product Knowledge – the sales person’s curse

You need product knowledge if you’re going to sell something, surely.

Well, yes, of course, but PK is a dangerous thing, particularly if you have too much of it.

Let me tell you why I was thinking about this subject.

I got a call from a guy who was trying to sell something. Not an unusual occurrence except that this time I was vaguely interested in what he was flogging. I won’t give the game away by telling you what it was that was on offer, except that it involves telephones and the company’s name begins with B and ends with T.

Anyway, we were on the market for a new system and I said so.

Boy, was that a major mistake…

I was still there forty minutes later trying to get a word in edgeways so I could tell him to… well, let’s just say I’d had enough by then.

I can’t run through the whole conversation here, but it did involve me being told an awful lot of stuff that I wasn’t remotely interested in. I’ll give you just one example:

“I don’t know whether you’re interested in this, but our systems are fully compatible with just about all call centre management software….”

There are two things about this sentence that just a little training would help with:

“I don’t know whether you’re interested…” THAT’S BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T ASKED ME, YOU HALF WIT!

All it would have taken is this:

“Tell me a bit about your business and how you use your current telephone system…” and he would have got all the information he needed about us and what we wanted.

The second thing about the way I was approached virtually guarantees that the sale was lost from the outset. To talk about a call centre operation for a business that has only a few of us and mostly on the road at that was just wrong.

So, why did it happen?

It’s because the guy had all this product knowledge bursting in his head and he needed to tell me to build credibility in both himself and his product. In actual fact, the approach he took had just about the opposite effect.

In conclusion, then, here’s a plea to all sales people… please, please ask me a few questions so you can work out what to tell me and what to keep for someone who gives a damn.

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