Why Product Knowledge is a Salesperson’s Superpower
By Jared Wexler at Chili Piper
My Sales professor had a motto that she drove home to our entire class. “Product knowledge is selling power.” After joining the workforce and going into the sales profession, I have to say she could not have been more right.
To give a little background about myself – I started off as an SDR before moving to Customer Success and eventually being promoted to the Product department. Now, I often hop on calls with our Account Executives to help answer technical questions and see first-hand just how powerful product knowledge is.
The Benefits of Product Knowledge
Expediting the Sales Cycle
Being able to maintain momentum and navigate the sales cycle seamlessly is dependent on both product and industry knowledge.
Think about it this way – every time there’s a question that a salesperson can’t answer, that means there will be one of the following: yet another follow-up call, yet another email thread, or possibly even another person having to be looped in. This is both time and momentum lost.
As a salesperson, if you can answer and navigate through a buyer’s questions, it allows you to keep the conversation going and the ball rolling. The ability to answer higher level product questions gives you exponentially more control over the sales cycle.
Being Viewed as an Expert
Who wants to be sold by someone that is simply regurgitating marketing jargon? Buyers want to know how your product will solve their pains and how it compliments their current process, not the tagline from your company website.
“Product knowledge is a key component of consultative selling which sets the best salespeople from the rest.”
It is increasingly important to not only know your product but to know the ecosystem surrounding your product. This rings true for any industry.
If you’re in the SaaS industry, chances are that the buyer doesn’t want to hear just another value proposition. They probably have a handful of tech tools already and if you can’t explain how your product works or compliments their existing stack, you’re not going to make the sale. A knowledgeable salesperson who is able to have that higher-level consultative conversation is inevitably going to have a tremendous advantage over a salesperson who just knows their own tool.
This can even apply to everyday life. Imagine that you were looking for a new part for your car. Would you be more likely to go with a salesperson who gives you a general description of what the part does or a salesperson who is able to talk about the entire build of your car and how the part will complement what you already have? The latter, right?
Being knowledgeable about both your product and your industry gives you tremendous power in that it allows you to make relevant points to your buyers and to actually have those deeper, more consultative conversations. These conversations are bound to be much more productive and collaborative than the typical overly-transactional sale.
For more complicated sales cycles, this also allows you to empower your buyer and give them ammo to champion internally if needed. At Chili Piper, we’re passionate about enabling buyers and making the sales cycle as seamless as possible.
How do you gain product knowledge?
There are many ways to gain product knowledge but to truly learn about a product, you’ll want to utilize multiple channels.
- My alma mater’s learning philosophy is “Learn by doing” and I absolutely agree. I think there’s no better way to learn a product than taking time to use it and familiarize yourself with it firsthand. Playing around with Chili Piper was absolutely one of the main ways I wrapped my head around the product. If you sell software, chances are that you’ll have access to your own account. You’ll learn a lot more from logging in and playing around than from reading a description of your product.
- Take advantage of your resources and learn from your coworkers! There are many different ways you can learn from your coworkers. If you’re in Sales, talk to your colleagues in Customer Success and Marketing. This will let you gain very valuable insight into real customer pain points. Additionally, if you happen to be selling a product or service and you have coworkers in the positions that you sell to, they can be one of your most valuable internal resources. Who is going to know more about your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) than a colleague who lives and breathes in that world? I can’t begin to emphasize how valuable spending even 15-20 minutes learning about your buyers’ world can be. Being aware of the real pains, priorities, and needs of your ICP enables salespeople to have much more relevant, and consequently, more powerful conversations.
- Follow and engage with relevant content whether it be LinkedIn, blogs, or podcasts. Surrounding yourself with content relevant to your industry is the quickest way to become familiar with all of the nuances and caveats of your field. Sales isn’t a 9-5 job – you have to put in the time and effort to become an expert.