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.

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