In response to his article, Perfect the Elements of Your Selling that You Control, I asked Andy Paul, a leading sales acceleration author, speaker and coach, a series of questions of questions on sales training and continuous learning. Here’s Part 3 of that series.
Product and customer knowledge is obviously critical for reps, but why is industry expertise so important for effective selling?
AP: Industry expertise enables a rep to provide an additional, if not absolutely higher, level of sales value to the prospect.
In the B2B space customers have business objectives that they are trying to achieve by investing in a change. That is the motivating factor in their buyer’s journey: to make a change to achieve certain objectives. If the salesperson possesses in-depth knowledge of the customer and their industry, it provides them one more level of knowledge, and context, to help the customer define and choose the solution that best matches their business objectives.
If a salesperson can understand these objectives in the context of what is happening in the customers’ industry, then they will be even better positioned to help define an optimal solution for the customer. They can be a partner to suggest a change in the buyer's desired specification, or suggest another way of conceptualizing the problem and objectives the customer is trying to achieve, that will ultimately provide more value to them.
Many companies organize their sales teams by vertical market, in which sales reps focus their selling on customers in specific lines of business. In these cases, salespeople have to acquire expertise in their customers’ industry. They have to understand the larger context of how these companies operate and what factors will be important to them in making their purchase decision. They have to understand how any decision will impact their customers’ competitive situations in their own industries.
Ultimately, almost any purchase has to be judged in the light of how it helps the customer maintain or improve their competitive position in their market. Whether it is driven by the top line, the bottom line or measured by market share.
For more sales tips, ideas and strategies from Andy, visit his blog, The Sales Fix.
For details on how Brainshark helps keep salespeople up-to-speed with fast, effective continuous learning, click here.
Andy Paul Q&A Series: