Wednesday, August 22, 2012

There Is No Excuse For Not Knowing Your Products

There is no excuse for not knowing your products. I meet many senior sales folks who join new organizations and jump right into a truster advisor stance immediately. Many times this is ego driven even if you joined an organization in the same industry. There is a natural evolution that takes place and skipping steps can impact performance longterm. The duration at each stage will vary based on skill set  and experience so take the time to become effective in your role.

Product Focused:

This stage is closely associated with the early years in the sales profession but is a foundational element for every sales professional irrelevant of your seniority. Knowing your product(s) helps separate you from the pack and allows for creative positioning and effective execution on the following developmental stages. This will allow for effective communications with those who will evaluate the nuts and bolts of your products which includes managers and system administrator type roles. These skills may not get you in the boardroom but executives trust their people for the details and evaluations.

Feature/Function Value Focused:

Now is where knowing your product allows you to creatively position features and function relative to the potential value they could represent to your specific prospect and their industry. Having completed the first stage you now start aligning the value delivered from a reducing costs, increasing revenue, or mitigating risk perspective. As you broaden your horizons and start seeing the bigger picture you begin the natural progression to the solution value focused stage.

Solution Value Focused:

You are no longer feature/function focused but rather have evolved into understanding the value your solutions can offer for clients. This becomes a more interesting place to be both from a client interaction perspective as well as a financial standpoint. Effectively executing at this stage is a result of the previous steps. The value potential of the pieces consolidates into the solution value. Many salespeople assume they as are working with customers to resolve business issues but they are resolving issues relative to their solutions and are still confined within a specific domain focus. That is what comes next.

Business Issue Resolution:

You first seek to understand. You no longer have anything to offer but rather work to understand the prospects business, objectives, and initiatives at the various levels of interaction points against which to align potential resolutions. Now you are considered a resource by others including executives.

Trusted Advisor:

I often hear sales people define themselves as trusted advisors. It is not who you think you are but rather what others do! Welcome to the boardroom.

Pay your dues for the success you desire. Thoughts to ponder!

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