It is fairly common knowledge that even today in most industries, a very high percentage of training budgets are spent on “product knowledge” workshops and training sessions. This is understandable to a degree, particularly in the more technical sectors, but what about all the other types of “knowledge”?
That statement is guaranteed to produce a lot of blank faces, and considerable head scratching!
But, if we are highly motivated, and we have received ongoing skills training, and we are using the very best process tools, we are bound to be successful aren’t we?
Short answer? No, not any more. Let’s look at recent history…
Forty years ago, frontline sales professionals believed that success would automatically arrive if they developed their personalities and adhered to the mantras of Tracey, Nightingale, Ziglar and co. And it is true even today that self-confidence, self-motivation, empathy, rapport building etc, will indeed take you a long way, and without most of those personal characteristics you will not succeed.
Then thirty years ago, the “mega-training” companies, such as Miller-Heiman, Hustwaite, Holdene, Target etc, arrived with new selling models – what I termed “scientific selling solutions” It was new thinking at the time and it was all rather good. Meanwhile, the rapidly developing “tailored solution” organizations such as Richardsons and The Brooks Group, to name just two, were becoming market leaders in their fields – so that’s the “skills-orientated era” taken care of, which of course, is still with us today.
Twenty years ago, “process and control” were the new buzz words. CRM systems began to flood the market, and sales managers licked their lips at the prospect of all that data at their finger tips. Consultative sales processes were developed – not always adopted and implemented successfully though – and the “Attitude + Skills + Process” loop was complete … well almost.
When people began congratulating themselves that they had adopted ASP, most forgot about “K” Well, that’s not quite true. In fact they spent millions of dollars on “K” in the certain belief that it stood for “Knowledge,” as in product knowledge – only half-right.
As I alluded to earlier, “Knowledge” is a much more complex issue, what about:
- Industry knowledge
- Sector knowledge
- Competitor knowledge
- Political knowledge
- Commercial knowledge
- Own company knowledge
- Economic knowledge
- Self knowledge
These then are today’s realities, and I believe that every organisation that intends to survive in this new re-engineered environment must, in my view, respond to those realities.
Let’s be clear, today’s clients/customers – who have never been more “commercially educated” are looking for vendors who can be business partners, who are willing and able to share risks and who are able to properly manage the entire sales process.
It is suggested that 84% of buying decisions are based on emotion – if that really is the case, buyers will not entertain entering into a long-term relationship with us because they like us, but rather that they trust us. Trust does NOT happen overnight, it never did.
Logically, we are far more likely to trust someone if we sense synergy, if the seller talks our language and if they are “knowledgeable”!