Whether you’re selling garage door openers or guidance control systems, medical devices, kitchen appliances, laminate, or printed circuit boards, you must know your product. If you want to be a successful rep, you must study the product, understand how it is built, why it is built a certain way, and most importantly, why the product your selling is better than anyone else’s.
There are no two ways about it. When you face that customer across the desk, he is expecting you to be the veritable, “Pro from Dover.” When you are selling high-tech products, you must be able to talk high-tech. It is not acceptable to just set up the sales call, introduce your principal to the customers and let them go at it. You are the sales person, and to sell, you must know what you are selling.
For too long, too many salespeople, both direct and independents, tried to get by with as little knowledge as possible. They tried to wing it with what little knowledge they had assimilated in their years in business. In short, they just did not put in the work needed to be successful.
Think of the experiences you’ve had when buying just about anything, from a vacuum cleaner to a car. Think back to how impressed you were when the salesperson wowed you with her knowledge of her product. After a few minutes, once she’d established her position as an expert, she quickly became a new source of knowledge for you. She told you things about the product that you’d never thought about. She asked you questions, trying to determine your needs so that she could help you select the best model possible. It didn’t take you long to trust this person with all of your product needs. She was now your expert and you were listening to her advice. She not only had the sale that day, but she had you for any future buys of her product.
Now you have to the do same thing. You must know everything you can about your product so you can guide your customers through to the right decision and not only make the sale but make a customer for life.
Here are seven things you can do to become your customers’ product expert. Let’s use printed circuit boards as our example
- Choose the very best line possible. Ask people you know, and ask your customers. Do your homework and find out what company does it better than anyone else and then reach out to them and sell them on letting you sell for them.
- Learn everything you can about your customer. How they run their company and what their secret sauce is. What do they do that is so outstanding that their customers deem them the best?
- Visit and survey the company. Ask for their customer service philosophy. Talk to everyone in the company, at all levels from the management to the customer service people. Make sure they are all singing from the same hymn book.
- Talk to their engineers and learn as much as possible about their technology. Take not only a plant tour but rather get out on the floor and build a board.
- Watch their sales presentation. Talk to their direct salespeople; talk to fellow reps. Learn how they sell. In fact, ask for some sales training; you might know how to sell but you may not know how to sell this company…now is the time to learn.
- Never stop learning. Don’t just learn from this company, but rather read everything you can about their technology—especially premier technology. Be sure to have a complete understanding of their technical capabilities.
- Set up some initials sales calls with your legacy accounts and invite their top engineer to come with you. Once there, shut up, listen and learn. Do a ride-along with their sales manager and watch how she sells.
Now you’re doing what you’re supposed to do; now you’re investing in your craft! And finally, one more in the spirit of under promise and over deliver. Become so knowledgeable about the technology that you can write an article or two about that technology. Make it both a technical and a sales article pitching the company and its technology to a larger marketplace. Talk about being outstanding! No one will ever expect that from a sales rep, so it’s a fantastic way to separate yourself from the rest of the pack.
It’s only common sense.