Things to Study to Boost SalesThe top people in every profession got there by studying. Raw talent and intelligence will only take you so far. Whether you’re talking about doctors, athletes, lawyers, business leaders, artists, writers or teachers, the best are committed to continual learning.

The same is true for salespeople. If you want to join the ranks of the award-winners, here are seven things you need to study regularly:

1. Your Product or Service
Product knowledge isn’t everything, but it’s a starting point. Prospects typically don’t trust a salesperson who doesn’t know what they’re selling. Know the details of your product or service backwards and forwards. Not because you’re going to share every detail with your prospects—most don’t want to hear every detail—but because you want to be able to answer any question your prospect has.

2. Your Company
What’s your company’s history? What’s your company’s philosophy? What awards has your company won? How does your company take care of customers after the sale? What are the negative episodes in your company’s past and how has your company overcome them? What makes your company unique? Again, you’re not going to share all this information with your prospects, but if your prospect asks about any of them, you’d better be able to answer confidently.

3. Your Industry
What are the trends in your industry? What are the opportunities and dangers? How might these items affect your company and your customers?

4. Your Competition
If you’re going to effectively sell against your competitors, you need to know them as well as they know themselves. What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do their products and services stack up against yours? In what ways are they superior to you? In what ways are you superior to them?

5. Your Marketplace
What are the trends in your markets? What are the challenges the people in them are facing? What do they want more of and less of? What’s happening to their budgets?

6. Your Prospect
Every prospect is different. This is where exceptional salespeople separate themselves from everyone else. They take the time to learn about each individual prospect—both in their pre-call research and their needs analysis interviewing. The more you know about your prospect, the easier it is to make the sale.

7. Selling
True sales professionals are constantly studying the art and science of selling. From prospecting to closing and everything in between, there’s always more to learn. Fortunately, there are more resources than ever before—many of them free!

Whether you’re brand new to sales or you’re a sales veteran, investing more time in studying these seven items will pay massive dividends.