Today’s consumers are digitally connected and socially networked. Before walking into your store, they have already done their homework, especially on items that cost more than $400. They have researched it online, compared prices, watched demo videos and already made some sort of decision about the product.
So, why do they even bother to come in, rather than just buying it online? Most musicians want to see, hear, feel and play an instrument. They need to ensure that there’s a connection. Although their mind might be telling them that the specifications and numbers all add up, there is still a need to “fall in love” with the product.
Another reason they come in is to ask a question or two, without answers originating from a Web site, social media page, manufacturer user group, etc. It’s your chance to set yourself apart from the competition and earn that customer’s trust, respect and business. But here’s the question: Is your staff adequately equipped to make that personal connection, provide a trustworthy experience for your customer and tip the scale toward a winning situation for your store?
Customers aren’t influenced just by products and services when choosing whom to give their business to; the overall customer experience has a larger effect. The necessity and quality of your products are important, but every market has options. You certainly have at least one competitor in your town, and your customers can nearly always have their needs met elsewhere.
That is why product knowledge is so important for your business. Demonstrating strong expertise about your products is crucial for creating a positive customer experience and building faith and trust with the customer. Without accurate or reliable product knowledge, what you’re selling might as well be worthless. It’s been said that “knowledge is power” and, for your sales staff, it can be the secret weapon to increased sales.
How can improved product knowledge help to increase sales? Here are a few ways:
1. Improves Communication Skills
A deeper understanding of a product enables the salesperson to use a wider array of tools, techniques and methods during his or her presentation. When your staff members are aware of, and educated about, the features and benefits of each item, and they’re able to convey those to the customer in an educational way, the customer’s confidence in the sales staff, store and product will grow.
2. Builds Excitement
When a salesperson boasts deeper product knowledge, it removes the stress associated with harboring uncertainty about what a product is capable of doing and how it might (or might not) solve the customer’s problems. Being comfortable when discussing the product allows the salesperson to interject his or her personal style and focus on building excitement about the item.
3. Establishes Trust
When a customer is on the fence about a product, it betrays a lack of commitment to either the salesperson or the product. Having a stronger selection of skills empowers the salesperson to adapt his or her presentation for greater impact, which, in turn, creates deeper engagement and helps establish trust.
4. Helps To Overcome Objections
Having a base of solid information about the product will provide your staff with the best tools to answer objections. When responses are delivered with certainty, customers sense the salesperson’s confidence and belief in the product. Unshakable knowledge about the product, coupled with parallel information about similar products sold by your competitors, will give you that added ability to counter objections easily.
5. Makes A Lasting Impression
Although it might be perceived as a tremendous thing to have all this information readily available, there could be a drawback. A “plethora of selection” has driven many customers to believe that all products they’re comparing are similar…even interchangeable. With such small differences in the products themselves, stores can stand out by creating a better overall buying experience. By demonstrating your in-depth product knowledge and doing a better job of matching the right products to your customers’ needs, you’ll rise above the competition and put yourself in a better position to make the sale.
6. Moves The Conversation To Benefits
Rather than focusing solely on the features of products, discuss the benefits that the products provide. Remember the following adage: “Features tell, but benefits sell!” Although providing your customer with a healthy list of features helps him or her to make an informed decision, it can also leave the person feeling a little overwhelmed. That can distract from the end goal: a sale.
Take the time to explain exactly how the product will make a difference in your customer’s life. How will it help him or her sound better? Feel better? Improve technique? Generate extra money? Enable higher productivity? With a nod to Dale Carnegie, “A feature without a benefit is like a hamburger without ketchup.” Make every presentation delicious by providing the right amount of extra flavor.
So, what’s the best way to get to know any product? By using it, of course! Why not add product-exploration assignments between sales meetings? Assign products to your staff and have them share what they’ve learned with the rest of your team. That will enable them, from a first-person vantage point, to see the unique benefits it could potentially bring. As a result, they will have more empathy for the customer and see the product’s functions and features in a completely new light.
And, lastly, don’t forget customer feedback. Many stores do not ask for feedback because they’re afraid it will all be negative. On the contrary, it gives you precious insight into what your customers truly think, and it enables your staff to improve and expand their knowledge.
When asking your customers for feedback, ask them to be as honest as possible. Only by knowing both the good and the bad aspects of your products and services will you be empowered to overcome problems and expand your in-house knowledge.
Invite your team to join you on this journey. And, above all, remember that every setback is just another opportunity to learn.
David Hall welcomes your comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.