Knowledge and belief are powerful forces on their own, but in combination, they can truly transform a customer’s experience.
Consider, for example, a floor salesperson in an electronics store. Are you more likely to buy a laptop from a bored employee monotonously rattling off a list of specs or an excited one happily showcasing a model she personally uses at home?
When product knowledge becomes product advocacy, your employees help customers experience more than just a sales pitch.
The authenticity of your salesperson’s belief can become infectious, turning a mildly interested passerby into a loyal customer willing to tell friends about the product and your business.
Making a Sale vs. Helping a Customer
The responsibilities of any employee will vary greatly from business to business, but most salespeople are tasked with becoming advocates of the company’s products and its brand. The passion and gumption with which they accomplish this depends on a few things: how well they know the product they represent, their personal experiences with the product, and how much they believe in the brand and its mission.
Maximizing these factors will increase the likelihood of your employees having genuine interactions with customers instead of dry, impersonal conversations that send them running for the door.
Here's how to improve your team’s knowledge and engagement so your business has the potential to garner higher sales, more job satisfaction, and better employee retention:
1. Make Product Knowledge Training Interesting and Engaging
Investing time into product training demonstrates to your employees that you are not only willing to help them succeed, but you’re also willing to go the extra mile to keep them excited about your product. This is virtually guaranteed to improve their performance on the sales floor.
Delight and surprise your team by keeping training methods fresh, fun, and personal. For example, a competitive team may benefit from a staff-wide contest to see who can drum up the most creative sales pitch for a new product. A more visceral approach may be taking a field trip to a manufacturing plant to see how products are made and distributed or inviting a local, high-profile speaker to come and give a presentation. Deliberative, outside-the-box training is far more likely to have an impact on how your employees interact with customers than simply providing them with a product description and emphasizing talking points.
2. Encourage Employees to Develop a Personal Relationship with the Product
How is your product personally relevant to your staff? And how can it improve their lives, as well as their prospective customers? This is the most powerful way to empower and motivate employees to become more enthusiastic about your product. A personal experience, much like the one had by the laptop salesperson in the earlier example, is the most powerful tool in selling, because it creates authenticity. Not only will your employees be better able to personally attest to a product’s quality, but they’ll also be more inclined to deliver that same satisfaction to a customer.
3. Invite Your Sales Team to Into the Process
Since your team is clearly a pertinent component to your success, invite them to critique, make suggestions, and share their ideas. And don’t just humor them! Listen carefully to their feedback and take action accordingly: show them they matter. The time and energy they’ve personally invested in the company and its products are important. It gives them a sense of purpose and belonging. Customers are keenly aware of these qualities and are far more likely to buy from employees they perceive to be genuine.
Your employees’ performance on the sales floor will directly reflect the time and energy you invest in educating and engaging them. But all of this will be wasted effort if you’re not excited or passionate about your products and the brand they represent. Your enthusiasm is the source of your team’s motivation, and no amount of outside help, field trips, or personal interaction with the products can replace that.
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Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.