Companies spend thousands of dollars every year building product knowledge “Universities”. They send their sales people to these product schools to learn the features and benefits of their products. They have them go through the process of becoming “product” experts, with the hope that the expertise they gain will propel them to sales success.
Unwittingly, they promote and fund a process that ends up creating “non supportive beliefs” in the minds of their sales people that can actually inhibit their success and lose them both sales revenue and profit margins. Those beliefs include the following:
Disseminating product knowledge to my prospect will build my credibility and make sales.
In order for the prospect to understand the value of my offer I must educate them.
Unfortunately, we have found this type of thinking, or “non supportive beliefs”, end up creating very difficult selling problems. Once we understand the problems these non supportive beliefs create we can begin to change both our thinking and behavior that will lead us to greater success in sales.
Although being credible to your prospect is important , we believe that having them trust you to provide a solution that will limit the risk they take in making a decision to buy from you is much more important. The way you build that trust is by demonstrating to your prospect, through a complete understanding of their problems, that you reduce the chance of making a mistake in the recommendation you make.
Logically, to gain an understanding of what your prospect needs, would require us to ask questions. Through your questions, you gain a greater understanding of their situation and thereby lower the risk of making a recommendation that is inconsistent with what they need. Asking questions about typical problems and understanding the impact they have on your prospect is much more important than giving out information.
Also, we have found that educating your prospect about your value allows them to use your information and recommendations as a way to “shop” you against the competition, frequently building RFP’s and RFQ’s around the unique value you have educated them about. This “shopping” model allows them to get competitive bids built around your recommendations that literally extinguish your value and end up creating sameness. This “free consulting” is particularly frustrating and damaging to our technology and intangible service customers.
Educating your prospect may make you feel good but it will end up being your downfall. It’s a dead end street that will force you to define your difference by a low price!