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PRODUCT AND COMPANY KNOWLEDGE Salespeople need to have a lot of information about their products, services, and company. Purchasing agents rate prod- uct knowledge as one of the most important attributes of good salespeople. Effective salespeople need to know how products are made, what services are provided with the products, how the products relate to other products, and how the products can satisfy customers' needs. Salespeople also need to know about their competitors' products as well as their own because they are frequently asked to compare their products to competitors' offerings. KNOWLEDGE ABOUT SALES SITUATIONS AND CUSTOMERS Equally important with product and company knowledge is detailed information about the different types of sales situ- ations and customers salespeople may encounter, as Sales Technology 5.1 discusses. For example, Verizon salespeople need to be knowledgeable about networking and information technology and have overall expertise in how businesses operate in order to sell cell phone service to their unique customer types. SALES Technology 5.1 USING TECHNOLOGY TO GAIN KNOWLEDGE AND TARGET MY SELLING ACTIVITIES I have worked in consultative sales in the architectural building industry my entire career. Over my 15+ year career, I have had the unique opportunity of seeing the industry, and the tremendous technological changes, from many different perspectives. I started my career in inside sales, and now work in business development for Inspec, an independent architectural/engineering consulting firm that focuses on designing customized solutions for new and existing building enclosures. Seeing the industry from different viewpoints over such a long duration has allowed me to see how technology has vastly improved the sales process. At the beginning of my career, my customer mix was largely composed of contractors who utilized the prod- ucts I sold. Back then, a CRM program was one of the tools we utilized. However, it was simply being used for scheduling meetings and logging interactions with prospects and clients at our desktop computers when we returned from sales trips, which was an arduous task in and of itself. Over the years, the advancement of cloud-based CRM platforms, the integration of social media channels, and the ability to access all of this information via an app on my smartphone or tablet have revolutionized the way I prospect for new clients as well as maintain relationships with existing customers. One of the core beliefs I have held throughout my career is that to obtain long-term, trusting relationships with customers, sales consultants must continually educate themselves "above-and-beyond" what they are selling. I firmly believe in personal improvement. This starts with understanding as much as you can about your cus- tomer's business, the unique needs they may face, and the various solutions available to assist them, even if they are not your own. I have gained some of my best customers from walking away from contracts where what I had to offer was not the best solution, instead offering advice on other solutions that may better fit their needs. By doing so, I may have lost that initial sale, but gained much more in the long term through positioning myself as a trusted advisor that they can call on for their needs. The advancement in technology, social media, social selling strategies, and the integration of said technology into CRM platforms has made this information easier to find and the entire process much more efficient. 130 CHAPTER 5: Adaptive Selling for Relationship Building

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