You may understand the benefits of transitioning to a new technology or system, but chances are many of your prospects do not. You can make statements like, “You will experience virtually no downtime,” or, “The cost-savings you will achieve will be worth the initial implementation costs,” or, “Your information will be kept secure,” but if prospects don’t exit your conversation with at least a basic understanding of how downtime will be prevented, how cost-savings will be achieved, and how their information will be kept secure, they will exit having to base their purchasing decision on how much they believe and trust you and your organization rather than on solid facts.
Technology vendors tend to enter into conversations with prospects with a long list of benefits. They then perform a little Q&A session with the prospect, and hang up or walk away hoping that they’ve been convincing enough to make a sale. As founder of AwesomeCloud Services, Jess Cobum, wrote in an article on selling Cloud computing services, you can market and sell technologies more effectively by “approaching your clients from the position of a service provider and technology educator.”
Somewhat ironically, sharing knowledge and information with prospects freely and efficiently is one the most effective ways to get people to believe and trust you.
What exactly is knowledge sharing? Gartner describes knowledge sharing as, “an activity that spans three components of the knowledge management (KM) process — knowledge capture, knowledge organization and knowledge access — to enable people to share knowledge across the boundaries of geography and time.”
Knowledge sharing with prospects is most easily done when an organization has already adopted an internal knowledge sharing strategy. When knowledge sharing is part of a company culture, sharing information with prospects and customers happens more naturally. It’s easier to develop a knowledge sharing strategy that you can use for sales purposes and insert into the phases of your sales cycle.
There are several KM process models out there, so the good news is that you don’t have to develop your knowledge sharing strategy completely from scratch. Do a little research, and find one that will work well for your organization.
In the meantime, the Vendere Partners team has put together a few questions to help get you thinking about how your organization can start becoming “a service provider and technology educator.”
- What prospect-facing information and collateral do I already have in place?
- Do I need to take an inventory of my organization’s case studies, white papers, sales presentations, infographics, videos and other pieces of collateral?
- What information do I need to gather in order to give prospects the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision?
- Do members of my team have direct knowledge that could be cultivated or refined by management?
- Would there be benefits to conducting internal and/or external surveys?
- Do I need to perform internal data analyses or hire third-party data analysts to generate accurate, sharable reports?
- What media outlets or online resources should my team be accessing regularly in order to stay on top of market trends and the latest technology news and updates?
- How can I use my team to continue to gather current information that is relevant to prospects and customers?
- Should I implement new learning approaches, such as e-learning?
- Should I set up a new Web portal or dedicated areas within my corporate intranet that allow for easy sharing throughout my organization, and clearly define which items are prospect or customer-facing pieces of collateral?
- In what ways should I present or deliver my information?
- Considering my target audience and the nature of the information, should I host a webinar or event, develop an e-mail campaign, create stand-alone printables that can be shared by sales reps as needed, or simply publish the information online via my company blog? (Make a list of all of the ways your customers might access or receive information.)
As we explained earlier, successful knowledge sharing programs start at home. To learn a little bit about how Vendere trains team members and shares information internally, visit the Vendere University page.