Building Your Sales Process – Product Knowledge

Product Knowledge
Product Knowledge

Strong product knowledge is a critical part of your skill set as a successful sales person.

When you think about why you’re in front of a prospective client, it all comes down to solving a problem for them. Therefore, the better you know your products and or services the more ability you will have to solve your prospective clients’ problems.

This is also a key contributor to the first stage of your sales process as you’re establishing rapport with your prospective client. Given that rapport is about building credibility and positioning yourself as a trustworthy advisor, product knowledge is an essential ingredient in your ‘sales mix’.

Product Knowledge = Credibility

There are 5 essential ingredients in the Product Knowledge formula:

  • Technical details
  • Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Competing Solutions
  • Differences
  • Peripheral details

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Technical Details

The technical details part is fairly straight forward. This involves knowing the basics such as dimensions, components, functions, material characteristics, how it works and how to use it.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The Strengths and Weaknesses part has two categories. There are the strengths and weaknesses of your product or service as it stands alone. These are specific to your product or service and can include tolerances for temperature, weight, duration, volume, or variations or limitations of application type etc. Then there are the strengths and weaknesses in relation to alternative solutions, which leads us into the next section.

Competing Solutions

Competing solutions. These generally present themselves in two forms. There are usually directly competing solutions with offers very similar to yours and marketed in similar ways to yours. Then there are the indirect solutions that solve the same problem that your offer solves but with a completely different approach. The direct competing solutions are the easiest to identify and quantify. It’s usually easy to obtain specifications, features and benefits, strengths and weaknesses on directly competing solutions. However, understanding indirect solutions involves thinking outside of the typical or established industry standards. As a business strategy this is becoming more and more important as the rate of technological development increases at a seemingly exponential rate. Apart from being good practice as part of your sales processes identifying indirect solutions is one of the critical skill sets of leading businesses. It’s what sets the winners apart.


Once you’ve identified the Strengths and Weaknesses and the Competing Solutions you’re able to create an index. This should define the points of difference between your offer and competing solutions. Obviously your job in winning the sale is to be able to understand and explain why your offers’ strengths and features are the right solution for your prospective client.

Peripheral Details

Finally, the Peripheral Details can have a big impact on your ability to win a sale. The peripheral details involve the additional features and benefits supporting your offer. These are things like ongoing support and service, warranties and quality processes. They include any other features external to the actual product or service that my affect your clients experience. These are extremely important and can often sway a deal your way. This can be true even if your actual product or service has some deficiencies when compared to alternative solutions.

So, overall there’s a fair bit of detail required to get the Product Knowledge aspect of your sales process right, but it’s worth the effort because it provides the leverage for every other aspect of your complex sales process.