The fourth step to becoming a B2B sales superstar is having superior Industry Knowledge. Again, the top sales people understand this and use it as an advantage against the average sales competitor. I have seen many of the top sales people use this resource of knowledge to out flank a competitor or to show a customer or prospect a better method to improve performance – using their knowledge of the industry.
There are several reasons that a sales person should master industry knowledge particularly in the world of B2B sales. The four biggest reasons are:
Creativity – using their industry knowledge to make valuable suggestions to customers.
Methodology – understanding the different types of methodologies used by customers.
Jargon – understanding industry jargon implies experience in the industry with the customer.
Trends – the ability to understand business cycles, trends in the industry and segmentation.The more a sales person knows about the customer’s industry the more creative they can be while discussing the customers current and future situation as well as share some best practices thoughts with the customer. This increases credibility between the sales person and the customer. In fact, the best sales people are actually seen as business advisors by their customers.
Methodologies is all about the collective number of processes, types of machinery, plant layouts, and systems used within a company. Understanding these factors in depth, allows a sales person to determine if the company is progressive or traditional, growth-oriented or maintaining, conservative or cutting edge. All these factors help the sales person know what types of questions to ask for future direction and ultimately what type of offers will match the objectives and practices of the customer.
Knowing industry jargon as well as certain business jargon helps in the communication process with these customers. To often misunderstanding occur due to a lack of understanding of jargon based statement on the part of the customer. It also shows the customer that you are familiar with industry practices and are not a first timer on the call.
Finally, industry knowledge allows for understanding trends within the industry. New technologies that may be changing the future. This change could have negative or positive effects on the customer – knowledge of the industry provides this insight. Trends such as growth markets or slow growth markets will impact your offers (not to mention your yearly sales targets!). Anticipation of trends is a key advantage for sales people to show their customers a better solution.
Take the time to learn about the industry you sell. Use the Internet to learn about the industry. There are research sources that will provide extensive data on an industry. Use Google Alerts and get daily information about the industry (it’s a free service) – information and trends delivered to your computer every day.