Blog for Building Materials Companies

The Problem with Product Knowledge in Building Materials

  |  Posted in Sales

The Problem with Product Knowledge in Building Materials

Knowledge is a good thing. The challenge is knowing what types of knowledge have the most value.

That’s the problem with product knowledge. Building materials sales and marketing people often have a lot of it, but it doesn’t provide as much value as it should.

Yet they continue to rely on it, at the expense of other forms of knowledge that have much higher value.

Product Knowledge Isn’t Enough

Salespeople will tell prospects why their product is better. They’ll talk about technical specs, the innovative process that went behind creating the product and they’ll go over all the features it has.

Usually, the prospect doesn’t care. It’s not that they can’t see why the product is better – they can. They just can’t see how it’s better for them.

Marketing people tend to make the same mistake. Just look at the messaging on most websites and trade show exhibits. They’re all about the product.

In addition to product knowledge, sales leaders are improving their knowledge of sales tools, like CRM platforms.

Likewise, marketing people strive to improve their knowledge of the best ways to communicate with customers.

Those are all steps in the right direction, but something’s still missing.

What I don’t often see is an appreciation of the value of intimate customer knowledge.

If more sales and marketing people became students of customer knowledge, they would quickly see greater success from their efforts.

The Value of Customer Knowledge

Customer knowledge is the most valuable type of knowledge you can have. Once you have a basic level of product knowledge, you should focus on acquiring customer knowledge.

The More You Understand Your Customer:

  1. The more likely they are to trust and believe you
  2. The better you understand where to focus your time and effort
  3. The easier it is to sell new customers
  4. The more loyal your customers will be
  5. The easier it is to get paid for the value of your product
  6. The less important the competition becomes

Keep Up With Your Customers

For the most part, product knowledge is like basic math. Once you learn it, you know it.

Customer knowledge is more like studying current events. There is always more to learn.

Your customers and the challenges they are facing are changing everyday. To do customer knowledge well is to be a lifelong student of your customers and their business.

Product knowledge also has diminishing returns. Once you know the basics, you gain less and less value from studying it more closely and in depth.

That’s not the same for customer knowledge. Learning more about your customers always translates to higher value.

Architects, builders, contractors and your other customers are changing daily. They need you to keep up. The more knowledge you have about the problems and challenges they’re facing, the more successful you will be. 

“Mark, one of your finest points as of late. So perfectly stated.”
Jeff Wedge
VP Sales, Residential and Light Commercial
HENRY COMPANY

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About The Author

I am the leading sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, I identify the blind spots that enable building materials companies to grow their sales and retain more customers.  As I am not an ad agency, my recommendations are focused on your sales growth and not my future income.

My mission is to help building materials companies be the preferred supplier of their customers and to turn those customers into their best salespeople. Contact me to discuss your situation.