There seems to be differences of opinion on whether direct salespeople really need to have a deep knowledge of what they are selling. Some have expressed views that salespeople can and will learn what they need to know on the job. We believe this is a bad strategy.
Let’s apply common sense. It is infuriating to take time to meet with a salesperson only to find out that they do not know very much about what they are selling. In a world of scarcity of time, no one wants to spend precious time with an uneducated direct salesperson.
For years we have trained salespeople in the skills and sales processes required to sell in complex accounts. It is hard enough to learn the customer’s real needs and their business problems while at the same time learning product capabilities. As a prerequisite, we ask salespeople to know the products, services and solutions that they sell.
What Customer Testimonials Tell Us
Every customer satisfaction survey and case study we have read or have developed ourselves, say customers clearly expect their salespeople to be knowledgeable, flexible, accountable and trusted. Failure to comply will be very costly.
Customers will not build a relationship with salespeople that they do not trust or respect.
For the company that employs the salesperson, it is even worse. Marketing, sales and branding efforts and expenses are wasted. The company’s reputation will be permanently tarnished. Sometimes it can result in a lost customer who will never return. There is a large cost to the company for a poorly trained salespeople.
Our Recommendation for Selling Companies
Spend enough time and resources to ensure salespeople have the prerequisite orientation and training on product, markets, and applications. Don’t let them call on even small customers without a more senior salesperson observing and supporting the sales call. Once the salesperson has proven themselves, then they earn the right to sell on their own.