Acquisition of knowledge is a pleasure and the urge is there with every interested self improving employee. For a person who believes in the statement “work is worship”, information seeking and finding solutions is in his blood. It his unfading curiosity, deep interest and sizzling enthusiasm that make him to learn and build his personality. Knowledge is a treasure of wealth but the judgement of the knowledge is the key to the wealth. Sources of product knowledge are many and varied. However, these sources can be classified into two major blocks as ‘fundamental’ and ‘collateral’ or ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’. What is important to note is that both ‘fundamental’ and ‘collateral’ sources are important and should be traced and tapped.
1. Education and Training:
As salesmen are ‘made’ than ‘born’, education and training are the imperatives. Professional salesmanship warrants certain amount of education as minimal after which he is admitted for specialised training either in house training institutes or external training houses. Education is formal while training is informal, In other words, education is ‘general’ but training is ‘specific’. It is a sound training that brings about change his level of knowledge, skills and attitudes,
2. Personal Experience:
Experience is the first and authentic source of information, There is no perfect substitute for experience. His ability, competency, performance improve with more exposure to his line of work. There will be deeper interaction between himself, the produces he handles and the customers he meets, It is more a matter of trial and error and under most natural situation that he is put or acid test of cold facts. However, experience takes time. Experiencing is the product himself can give him good deal of product knowledge.
Salesman learns a lot and widens the horizons of his knowledge through his colleagues particularly sessions and colleagues and juniors. His seniors are the rich source and act as living bundle of information as they are to unfold their out successes and failures. Regular discussions with colleagues, customers, suppliers, retailers and wholesalers with give him the necessary gun-fodder for firing effectively and electrically. He should have the knack of brushes the shoulders with his session who should spare time for such guidance. A shrewd salesman takes every opportunity to convert his leisure hours in fruitful discussions and discourses.
4. Sales Literature:
Sales literature is readily available from trade journals, sales manuals, sales bulletins and sales post folios. ‘Trade journals’ are the technical formals containing technical points and details about such products. In each trade, such magazines are published at a definite time interval. such magzines gives product updates and details of engineering and electronic party. Even the manufactures of drugs and medicines do publish these firms so many selling points on which salesman can capitalise. A “Sales Bulletin” is one which is a supplement giving full details about the latest products the company has introduced or is planning to introduce. These also portray changes in marketing policies. A ‘sales portfolio’ is a sales presentation in the form of pictures and story bound in a book form. It arranges sales points in a logical sequence, develops a single idea at a time and uses illustrations freely. It includes testimonial letters, illustrations of product installation, names of users, dappling, diagrams of construction, features, advertising and swatches.
Each advertisement relating to his company products is based on a definite theme. It has a story to tell; it is built on the solid and valid psychological principle of A.I.-D.A. A wise salesman studies not only the advertisements of his company products but more those of his competition. Each advertisement studies and compared, gives a stock of selling or talking points. The salesman is better placed, to position his product or products in the minds of consumers or prospects. The work of salesman is made easy in that the customers are already exposed to the advertisement which has already sold the product mentally. His sales-talks reinforce his stand and confirm the sale because, desire leads to action by his personal persuasion.
6. Sales Meetings and Conferences:
Companies arrange for the periodic meetings and conferences that make possible interaction, discussions and deliberations. Conferences, under the direction of trained conference-leader, enable the exchange of ideas, pooling of experiences and working out solutions to the common problems, Each salesman is given an opportunity to be heard as a participant, simulating individual thinking. The topics likely to be covered in sales conferences are the current selling problems encountered by the salesman such as price competition, objections, close of sales, handling claims and adjustments.
7. Visits to Factories and Show-room and Exhibitions:
The manufacturers welcome the salesmen to visit their factories which is a rich source of information as to how the raw-materials and other inputs are combined, processed, quality standards of inputs, quality control of output, packing and packaging and so on. The actual conversion process is a good stuff for the salesman to be used as and when the consumers ask questions relating to these areas.
Similarly, they are advised to visit show room and industrial fairs and exhibitions, These sources provide new entries in product line or lines, product varieties, competitive products, substitute products and so on. This also enriches the product knowledge c: sales people.
The salesmen of these days are really fortunate to have internet facilities when ever they fend time. Internet surfing gets detailed information of the product or product line of the entire world wide. The information is authenticated and documented giving full details and further reference. Almost everyday, all over the world at least. One new idea, new product, new process, new method is presented. Hence, timely and regular internet surfing makes a salesman well equipped with the latest sales information from which he can have selected selling points.
9. Motion Pictures and Visual Aids:
Progressive manufacturing houses use motion pictures and talking slides to show the product features, uses and benefits of all, sound motion pictures are most useful in giving the product knowledge to the salesmen, though quite expensive. Instead, slide pictures with the sound track may be cased. The films are shot on an ideal or model salesmen presenting the company and, hence, company products to his customers. This gives vivid account and enable taster understanding on the part of the learners. For any really interested salesman, every bit of information is valuable on which the encash.
10. Training Schemes and Courses:
With a view to train the salesmen in the basics or fundamentals of selling namely, themselves, products and customers, special training programs are arranged by the manufacturing houses, on addition, correspondent courses are also designed and implemented to enable those salesman who can not attend training programmes in person. Some salesmen learn while they earn during leisure of training known for imparting the desired and suitable training.
11. Travelling Demonstrations:
Travelling demonstrations are the moving company squads visiting various branches or bops of the company guiding and assisting the counter salesmen as to how to succeed in -demonstration or presentation and exposing the products to the consumers. Expert guidance expended by specialised and experience demonstrators develops good deal of improvement in , jelling skills of salesman and their efficiency and effectiveness at work unproved to a considerable extend. These measures help in building self-confidence among the newly joined raw-hands and a kind of refresher in updating the knowledge of those who have been on the roll.
12. Public Libraries:
An inclined salesman finds sometime because of his line managing ability and keen to gather or more. Public libraries are rich source and profit source of information useful his line. At his command, there are countless books, journals, papers, reports, hand boo bulletins, news-papers and news letters. Much depends on a salesman as to how much is hunger for the knowledge and much he wants to take advantage in improving his sales ability.
13. Best Solutions Schemes:
In order to make the salesmen to think and use their brains, many manufacturing houi have these “best solution” schemes. It is a scheme under—which good many questions are asi relating to products, customers and salesmen. The salesmen are asked to answer these in his own way. The best answer to the questions entitles him a prize — may be in cash or kind, motivate others, a wide publicity is given of such ‘best answer salesmen’ through house org; It is to create an atmosphere of healthy competition in sales force of a company. It inject: sense of being active than being docile. Though one or a few are getting prizes, the entire sa force gets motivated and performance is improved.
Regular and indepth contacts with the customers can be a reliable and rich source information. It is the customers who buy and use of not only one selling house but of competit houses. Through product trials, repeat purchases cultivate and this trial goes on hill they j the best product as they purchase a company’s product as the best. It is the customers w decide either through their own experience or the experience of their friends and relatives a colleagues. Here, the salesmen hear through horses months about desired or expected prodi features, performances, successes or failures and the like. This supplements their knowledge no less measure.
Each company, in the sales line, has to prepare its own sales literature, advertisemei news letters, house organs, sales meetings and confer aim. Therefore, by tapping all these source the competitive ability of competitors is, perhaps, the best source of developing strate competitive over the rivals. It is also true that nothing wrong in understanding one’s competit as every thing is fair in war —business or politics and love.