A thorough knowledge of the product helps the salesman to increase sales, obtain larger orders and render better services to the customers. Up-to-date knowledge of the existing products as well as the new products is essential for the salesman to sell efficiently in competitive situations. Following are the reasons as to why a salesman should have perfect knowledge of the products.
(i) Personality is not enough
Sales personality without product knowledge is just like a body without soul. A salesman having excellent personality can ensure sales. Though personality is the staring point of any sale, perfect knowledge of the product backs the salesman in dealing with the customer and impressing them.
(ii) Ensure better sales
A salesman sells benefits and utilities of a product. Unless he knows the product in detail he can not provide information to the customers about the product and its utilities, for which the customers are not impressed and may even suspect about the product and its service. Thus thorough product knowledge helps a salesman to satisfy the customers and ensures faster and better sale of the products.
(iii) Strengthens self-confidence
A thorough knowledge of the product, its capacity, performance limitations, helps the salesman to speak with self-confidence and courage. He can not be defeated either by the customers or rivals. Detailed knowledge of the product helps the salesman to overcome doubts and suspicions about the products.
(iv) Makes selling a pleasant task
The salesman feels something lacking without the perfect product knowledge and he can not find his job satisfactory. A self- satisfied salesman naturally ensures better sales. He finds his job enjoyable only when he has complete mastery over his products.
(v) Ensures satisfactory meeting of objections
Generally buyers enquire about the nature, function, design, price of the product from the salesmen. Prompt answers from the salesman make them impressed. A salesman without adequate knowledge about the product may not be able to meet questions, objections, or suspicions raised by the customers about the product.
(vi) Enables to stand competition
Products now a day are becoming complex and are changing day by day. Thus the victory of selling over competitors depends on the up to date detail and technical knowledge of the products. A competent salesman remains well equipped with information about the products like a warrior in the field of selling.
(vii) Figures the perfect image of the product
An ignorant salesman is not able to reflect the perfect image of the product in the minds of the buyers. He is only able to confuse the buyers by his guesswork, general statements and bluffs. On the other hand, products are sold automatically if the salesman is able to make a clear picture of the product in the minds of the buyers.
(viii) Multiple earnings
With complete product knowledge, the salesman is able to sell more. With increase in sales, the income of the salesman also increases. If the salesman works on commission basis, the salesman is able to increase his earnings.
Some of the important points which the salesman should know about his products are:
(a) Knowledge of the organization
Knowledge regarding the history, owners, plants, technicians, sales figures, etc. of the firm helps the salesman to present the image of the firm before the customers. In advanced countries, the customers are influenced by the reputation of the firm. Apart from having the perfect knowledge of his own organization, the salesman should have sufficient knowledge about his rival firms so that he will able to guard the prestige of his own firm.
(b) Knowledge of products
The salesman deals with three types of products, i.e. (i) necessities, (ii) comforts and (iii) luxury articles. The salesman does not require much effort to sell the staple commodities or necessitates like food grains, salt, cloth etc. Rather he has to show them the quality and price. Comfort articles like radio, cycles, wrist watches are sold for their usefulness. The salesman should acquire technical knowledge in selling the comfort articles. This will help him to point out to customers the durability, service and usefulness of the products. Much selling efforts as well as thorough technical knowledge is required to sell luxurious articles. Generally the salesman is expected to have knowledge about the different aspects of products. They are: (i) uses and advantages of products, (ii) composition and construction of products, (iii) service and guarantee of products, and (iv) knowledge of compacting goods.
(c) Knowledge of market condition
The market is always changing and the salesman should closely note these changes. The changes in fashion, taste, habits, etc. should be observed and the salesman should also change accordingly. Otherwise he can sell in new market condition. Experience in market conditions also helps a salesman to forecast for future.
(d) Knowledge of Government policies
The salesman should have latest knowledge about sales tax, and surcharge rate which vary from products to product. Government policy regarding price control and distribution system also affects sales. Therefore, a detailed knowledge of Government policies helps a salesman to sale the products with least difficulties and objections from the customers.
(e) Knowledge of competitors’ strength
In the modern age of keen competition, the salesman must be aware of the competitor’s strength. A detailed knowledge of the price and products of the rivals enables the salesman to guide and advise the customers about the superiority of his products than those of his competitors. Sources of acquiring product knowledge.
(i) Personal experience, (ii) Reading in libraries, (iii) Trade journals, (iv) Senior and fellow salesmen , (v) Advertisements, (vi) Sales manuals, (vii) Sales bulletins, (viii) Salesman’s portfolios,(ix) Visit to factories, (x) Meeting and conferences, (xi) Motion pictures, visual aids, etc.(xii) Education and training and (xii) Travelling and demonstrators.