Product Knowledge is Overrated

February 26th, 2019

Product Knowledge is OverratedCompanies spend thousands—even millions—of dollars every year training their salespeople and sales channels on the minutia of their products and services. In fact, many companies use the term “sales training” when what they really mean is “product training.”

And that’s a mistake.

Because product knowledge is not enough. If product knowledge was all that mattered, there would be no need for salespeople. All any company would need is a brochure or website.

In my capacity as a sales speaker and trainer, I’ve seen salespeople who struggled to sell despite their tremendous product knowledge. And I’ve watched salespeople who had barely any knowledge of their product sell the hell out of it. I’ve heard countless stories of people who closed the deal despite hardly talking about the product with their buyer at all.

Because sales isn’t about your product. Sales is about your prospect. It’s about their wants, needs, fears, values, priorities, opportunities, and dangers. It’s about their emotions and feelings.

Which means if all you—or your salespeople—are doing is talking about your product, you’re missing the boat. (Not to mention sales.)

I’m not saying product knowledge is irrelevant. In fact, it’s terrific! But it’s less important than virtually every other sales skill you can develop.

Because reciting an endless list of features and benefits is boring. Asking questions is engaging.

When you learn about a prospect’s goals, concerns, hopes, experiences, and pressures, you build rapport, respect, and trust. The same is true when you make them laugh or allow yourself to be vulnerable in front of them. Ditto for when you call them to see how their kid’s soccer tournament went.

Also, possessing incredible product knowledge doesn’t mean anything if you can’t present that information in a way that’s interesting, understandable, and exciting. Overcoming objections is less about the product and more about the buyer’s fears. And all the product knowledge in the world won’t help you if you don’t know how to ask for the sale.

So if you’re a salesperson, keep improving your knowledge of your products and services. But devote just as much—if not more—time to sharpening your other sales skills.

And if you’re a Sales Manager, VP, or CEO, be sure to provide your salespeople and channel partners with plenty of skills training to complement and enhance your product training.

Because knowing a product backwards and forwards is pointless if you don’t know how to leverage that knowledge. But when you combine expert product knowledge with honed sales skills, you’ll have a powerful one-two punch that will dramatically boost your sales.

87 Things You Can Control

February 19th, 2019

83 Things You Can ControlWe all crave control. Not just in sales or business, but in every aspect of our lives. And yet life is frustrating and scary because so many things are beyond our control. Things like:

• The economy
• What your competition does
• Your prospect’s budget
• The weather
• Traffic
• The stock market
• Interest rates
• Other people’s values, beliefs, and priorities
• The past
• The pace and scope of change
• Whether or not your team wins the championship
• Tax policy
• Government regulations
• The next generation
• Crime
• Natural disasters
• Wars and other international conflicts

It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of so many important things we have no control over. And that sense of powerlessness can lead us to not try as hard as we should, avoid taking risks and making changes, and even completely give up.

The good news, however, is that there are far more things you have complete and total control over. Such as:

1. Your attitude
2. Your beliefs
3. Your thoughts
4. Your mood
5. Your enthusiasm
6. Your self-talk
7. How you spend your time
8. How organized you are
9. How you prospect
10. How much research you conduct on your prospects
11. The words you use
12. The questions you ask
13. How much TV you watch
14. The number of books you read
15. What you read
16. Your product knowledge
17. Your presentation skills
18. Your follow-up
19. How respectful you are
20. How courteous you are
21. How kind you are
22. How generous you are
23. What you eat and drink
24. How much you drink
25. Your exercise regimen
26. How much sleep you get
27. How much time you take off
28. Your social media activity
29. How honest you are with others
30. How honest you are with yourself
31. The number of sales training seminars you attend
32. What you listen to in the car
33. How often you ask for help
34. How often you solicit feedback
35. Your priorities
36. How often you step outside your comfort zone
37. Whether or not you take responsibility
38. How hard you work
39. The people you choose to associate with
40. The company you work for
41. What you wear
42. Your hygiene
43. Your grooming
44. How patient you are
45. How much negativity you expose yourself to
46. Your resilience
47. Your boundaries
48. Your gratitude
49. Your goals
50. Your planning
51. Your focus
52. How unquestioningly you believe what you read, see, and hear
53. Whether or not you learn from your mistakes
54. Whether or not you forgive yourself for your mistakes
55. How much you delegate
56. How much you trust people
57. Your response time
58. How you manage your finances
59. How much you network
60. How well you develop and nurture your network
61. Whether or not you ask for the sale
62. How well you deal with objections
63. Whether or not you discount
64. How you deal with stress
65. How open you are to learning new things
66. How judgmental you are
67. Which commitments you keep
68. How many risks you take
69. The kinds of risks you take
70. How quickly you adapt and change
71. Your perseverance
72. How much you listen
73. How well you listen
74. Your creativity
75. The amount you praise and compliment others
76. How much research you do before making a decision
77. How open you are to other people’s ideas
78. How much information you share with other people
79. Whether or not you smoke, vape, or chew
80. What drugs you take
81. How much you gamble
82. How often you dwell on your past
83. Your negotiation skills
84. Whether or not you get a mentor
85. Whether or not you work with a coach
86. How well you take care of the needs of those around you
87. Your mastery of technology

Whew!

So take heart—while it’s true that there are a lot of things you can’t control, there are many more that you can. Ultimately, the person who has the most control over your life is you.

Don’t let the things beyond your control get you down. Focus instead on the items you do have power over and use that power. You have more control than you realize, and when you exert it, you will dramatically improve your results, your sales, your relationships, and your life.

Stop Trying to Be Normal

February 12th, 2019

Stop Trying to Be NormalAs kids, nearly all of us want to be “normal.” We want to fit in and be accepted. And that’s understandable when we’re six or seven (or even fifteen), and “different” is perceived as bad or weird or wrong.

Unfortunately, too many people never outgrow that need. As adults, so many of us still cling to the desire to be “normal.” But what does that really mean? What exactly is normal?

Normal is:

• Average
• Ordinary
• Everyday
• Mundane
• Typical
• Mediocre
• Decent
• Acceptable
• Routine
• Sufficient
• Marginal
• Common
• Unremarkable
• Humdrum
• Standard
• Run-of-the-mill
• Inconsequential
• Forgettable

Is that how you want to be perceived? Is that how you want your company, product, or service to be described?

Or would you rather be:

• Exceptional
• Extraordinary
• Amazing
• Incredible
• Breathtaking
• Mind-boggling
• Awesome
• Stunning
• Innovative
• Outrageous
• Fascinating
• Unprecedented
• Pioneering
• Remarkable
• Surprising
• Distinctive
• Unique
• Outstanding
• Singular
• Astonishing
• Memorable

Normal is overrated. Different is underused.

Is there a risk in being different? Of course. Some people won’t like it. But if it turns off some people, so what? Neither you, your company, your product, or your service needs to be palatable to everyone. In fact, nothing can be palatable to everyone. So don’t try to be.

Think of your favorite celebrity—are they normal? Think of your dream car—is it normal?

Was the Apple Macintosh normal? Was Nike’s first shoe normal? Is Dom Perignon normal? Was “Black Panther” normal? (Either the comic book or the movie?)

I could go on and on, citing example after example. Normal is safe, but carries little chance of major success. Different is risky, but that’s where the real potential for greatness is. Not just in sales or business, but life itself.

Let your freak flag fly. Revel in who you are, what you do, and how you do it. Create products and services that are so different that people have to have them.

Normal is boring. Different is exciting, liberating, and energizing. The choice is yours.

What You Like Doesn’t Matter

February 5th, 2019

What You Like Doesn’t MatterSo I’m sitting around with a bunch of friends, and we’re discussing really important stuff, when somehow the subject of potato chips comes up. (Possibly because we were eating them.)

Within a few seconds, our friendly discussion morphed into a heated debate on the merits of regular potato chips versus “Kettle-Cooked” potato chips. Both sides vehemently defended their position regarding taste, texture, and mouth-feel. And neither side could fathom how the other could possibly prefer the obviously inferior option.

I sat watching quietly because I didn’t have a dog in this fight. (I like both kinds. Preferably flavored.) And I marveled at how something so mundane could stir such passion in people.

Because we take our likes and dislikes for granted. If we like something, it must be good. And if we dislike something, it must be bad..

But our tastes are just that: ours. They’re personal. They’re not objective.

Your prospects may have very different tastes than you. Their tastes aren’t wrong—they’re just different. And your prospects probably feel as passionately about their tastes as you do about yours. Which means you need to respect their tastes, even if you don’t understand them. Because in sales, it’s your prospect’s tastes that matter, not yours.

And the same goes for many other things your potential buyer has that may be radically different than yours, including their:

• Values
• Priorities
• Budget
• Dreams
• Fears
• Buying approach
• Beliefs
• Past experiences
• Idiosyncrasies
• Skepticism
• Risk tolerance
• Parenting style
• Self-Confidence
• Biases

All of these items are subjective. There’s no right or wrong. So don’t judge or dismiss people who think and feel differently than you do.

Instead, make an effort to empathize and understand. And even if you can’t fully understand someone’s thoughts or feelings, you can still respect them. And you must, because their thoughts and feelings are what will determine whether or not they buy from you.

So if you want to boost your sales, recognize that your prospect’s likes and dislikes are just as valid as—and even more important than—yours, and treat them accordingly.

Damn. Now I really want potato chips.