Welcome and thanks so much for tuning in! This is the Unstoppable Success Podcast Series Episode number 20. Today’s topic is an important component of customer service. Specifically, we’ll be talking about product knowledge and why you and your staff need to really know what you’re talking about when it comes to what you sell. As a customer, one of the most satisfying things for me to experience is when a sales agent knows what they are talking about when it comes to their product or service. I have to admit, I don’t often experience this but when I do, it really bowls me over but in a good way. Product knowledge is especially important when it comes to selling big ticket items like appliances, furniture, cars, hardwood or tile flooring. It’s also critical when selling things that are complex like long term care insurance, child care, technology, a rental agreement or a new house. But product knowledge is important for the common and ordinary products we buy too. When the guy behind the fish counter at the grocery store knows where the flounder comes from or the local florist knows what I can do to make that bouquet of flowers I just bought last a little longer, it matters to me because it gives me the sense that I matter so much to them as a customer that they took the time to be educated on what they sell. The more a sales representative knows and is willing to share with me as a consumer, the more confidence and trust I have in that sales rep and the organizations where they work. I not only have more trust and confidence, I have a greater amount of respect and admiration for the companies out there that are investing in the product knowledge of their employees. I say investing because product knowledge does require some degree of training and holding your employees accountable for sharing what they know in a way that your customers can understand. If you are considering putting some product knowledge training into effect in your organization, here are a few things that you might want to consider including in the process:
- Inventory – Know what you carry, what you have in stock, and where it is located in your store.
- Price – Know how this product compares in price to the other items on your shelf.
- Styles, colors, and sizes – Know the variety of ways you can get this product.
- How and where the product was made – These are becoming more important issues for today’s consumers.
- How the product is distributed – Consumers want to know if they can buy direct or if there are middle men who may be adding to the cost. They may also want to know about replacement parts and how something might be serviced.
- Warranties and guarantees – Consumers are always interested in whether or not you and the manufacturer are going to stand behind the product if it breaks or malfunctions. Things like your return and refund policy are also important for your employees to know so they can warn customers if you policy is a strict one.
- Practical applications – Sales agents should share practical applications for the products including how other customers have used it.
If you don’t want to do the training, consider having a manufacturer’s representative do it. Let me share a little story with you about how this can be effective. When my dad retired a few years ago, he picked up a little part time job at the local hardware store because he didn’t want to be sitting around doing nothing. Actually, I think my mom kicked him out of the house because he was lovingly getting on her nerves. One evening, I stopped over to visit with him and my mom only to find that he was on his way out the door. When I asked where he was going, he told me the hardware store had a rep coming in from a grass seed company to educate the staff on their product and what made it different from the competition. I thought he would be annoyed at having to go back into the store after being there all day but he was thrilled for the opportunity to learn and not feel embarrassed should a customer ask him about the product and he not have the answer. Product knowledge training is going to help your staff do a better job of selling your wares and it will give your customers more confidence in you. Let product knowledge be your secret weapon in the marketplace. Be seen as the expert in what you are selling.