You know what they say – knowledge is power. So that is indeed true when it comes to selling and even more so when you are selling financial services. It is not going to come as any surprise that if you want to sell effectively, you must have a strong understanding of the products and services you offer, and more importantly precisely how those products benefit your customers.
Product knowledge is an ongoing process and something you will continue to do to increase your effectiveness as a salesperson. No one, not even the best salespeople, ever wholly master product knowledge.
However, product knowledge is so valuable, it increases your confidence as a salesperson and your customers’ trust that you are the right person to serve their needs. Customers today come armed with their level of product knowledge. The internet and competition have created a more educated consumer base, and that is all the more reason we need to know more than our customers do about the services we offer.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
So what do we need to know about products?
First, how your product adds value. Remember customers buy benefits not features. (article) A customer buys a diet cola not because it has zero calories (feature) but because it will not make them gain weight (benefit.) Product knowledge is about understanding the result your customers gain from the products you offer.
Second, how your products differ from your competitors. Remember, customers have done their homework, and if you cannot provide a compelling reason to buy a product from you over your competitor then neither will your customers.
And lastly the details. You need a good grasp of how your product works, the pricing structure and any other benefits your customers get with their purchase. Customers expect you to know the basics.
Once you understand what you need to know, it is time to build your product knowledge.
Five Strategies To Increase Your Product Knowledge for Sales Success:
- Invest the Time – to learn about your products and services. You can read the literature, take some online courses or talk with more experienced salespeople. Any strategy you want to use will work to increase your product knowledge you need to invest the time.
- Get the Basics – You will never master product knowledge because most organizations offer many different products and some of these products tend to evolve. So you need to understand the natural flow of product knowledge. If you learn the basics first, the easier it will be to follow the rest. Customers expect you to know the basics; they will understand if you need to get back with them on more sophisticated products.
- Learn the Need – understanding every detail about products can be frustrating, so learning the need products solve is a better way to go. For example, even after years selling financial services, I struggle to get the details of factoring or lines of credit, but I understand when my customers have a cash flow timing difference both those products will solve their problems. You may not know the details of how a Trust works, but you can understand when a customer is thinking about transferring wealth that this product is vital in estate planning.
In financial services, many of the products we offer our customers are actually “sold” by real specialists. Our job in product knowledge is more about understanding the needs our products and services provided.
- Role Play – okay I can hear you moaning from here, and I get it, no one likes to role play. However, it is one of the best ways to learn product knowledge. You play the customer, your co-worker plays the sales professional, and you only pick the product to have the conversation.
Think of role play as spending the time to practice on how you would present products, how you would identify the need; plus, it provides you the freedom to try new things and build your confidence.
- Jump In – finally, don’t wait, just jump in. The most important line you need to have in your product knowledge arsenal is “let me find out more about that, and I will follow-up with you.” Customers do not need you to know every little thing. However, they do expect you to be a resource.
Product knowledge gives you an edge when it comes to selling financial services. Also, while you may never completely master all the products and services you offer, this is enough for you to take off the training wheels and get started!
About Meridith Elliott Powell:
Meridith is an invitation only LinkedIn Learning Instructor. She has several courses geared towards sales and business development.
Interested in learning more about how to sell financial services? Then check out Meridith’s LinkedIn Learning Course – “How to Sell Financial Services.” This power-packed course has everything you need to know about how to master the art of sales!
The link to Linkedin Learning Course “How to Sell Financial Services” is here: