Scientia Potentia Est. – Why You Need Learning & Knowledge for Your Sales Process
By: Mark Frasco
I don’t speak Latin, but I’ve done my research. What Sir Francis Bacon was saying in the 16th century was “knowledge is power.” So, if that is true, you could say that lack of knowledge or ignorance leads to weakness. Now, who wants that?
“The only thing that gives an organization a competitive edge, the only thing sustainable, is what it knows, how it uses what it knows, and how fast it can know something new.”
– Laurence Prusak, Knowledge Management Director, IBM Institute
As much as this makes sense to us, it is regrettable how little attention we give to building knowledge that will serve to improve our position – and ultimately, our sales process. Our days are filled with countless interactions and exchanges – formal and informal.
But how many of those exchanges are coalesced into meaningful information that is analyzed, building knowledge that leads us to improved learning that informs our strategic decision-making and improves our competitive position?
Are you in the race to improving your organizational knowledge? Compared to your competition, are you winning that race? It is important to know the answers to these questions, because if you’re not winning, you’re losing and if you’re losing, your competition is learning faster than you. How long can you expect to sustain your position, if your organization continues to be slower at learning what it needs to know to thrive?
The Importance of Knowledge in the Sales Process
What you don’t know will hurt you. What do you want to know? Take time to organize your learning objectives, organizationally and at the level of the transaction, feeding your larger knowledge-base.
Be sure to gather the team to help determine what information needs to be gathered and why it is important. From there, frame the questions, methods of learning, and put in place an organizational rhythm to analyze the information gathered.
Stop selling; it gets in the way of learning. How many times have you left an interaction with a customer or prospect and felt that they knew more about your organization than you did theirs? Who benefited most from that interaction?
Did you improve your ability to customize a solution, competitively differentiating your offering? If not, it is more likely that they won the learning race, gaining what they needed to improve their buying position. Be sure to create the interactions that feature “give and take” dialogue.
CRM: Key to Knowledge
Thirty years ago, as technology entered our lives, the idea of gathering, organizing, and analyzing buyer preferences and behaviors in the business-to-business sector began to formalize. Collecting data in a customer relationship management (CRM) database is now commonplace.
CRM software allows us to not only organize buyer information, but it gives us the mechanism to communicate with buying influences in a more meaningful way, customizing communication and ultimately the products or services that we supply.
(For more information about CRMs, check out this Business Builders video about improving CRM adoption in your organization.)
Knowledge Management, Commitment & Sustainable Change
Of course, none of this means much if we are not committed to making the changes, as gleaned from the knowledge gained. I like to think that learning is the bridge to meaningful, sustainable change:
- Determine your learning outcomes.
- Reconstruct your style to stop selling and start learning.
- Organize information in a CRM system that allows you to analyze common threads and communicate uniquely to each prospect.
- Consider changes to how you supply your services and products to better fit the new learning.
- Get different fast… knowledge is power.
“Knowledge management is not a shrink-wrapped thing in a box, it’s a discipline.” – Scott Elliot, Lotus Knowledge Management
The only thing that gives an organization a competitive edge is what it knows, and how it uses what it knows.
To learn more, check out our Business Builders video on Knowledge Management.
*Note: This article was originally published in June 2013 and has been updated and revised for relevance.