The Curse of Knowledge

Like any good idea I have this one is somewhat stolen from a book I read many years ago and reread while on vacation (a real one, no kids this time) last week. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath has a number of great ideas that are focused on making ideas work. A marketing bent for sure (I have my much smarter than me wife to thank for that interest) but some really applicable reminders for sales people and especially sales managers trying to motivate, lead and train their teams. So, you ask, when is knowledge a bad thing? The answer is when you have so much information and context in your head but forget to or don’t share it with your prospect on the phone. If you are having trouble with consistency in your sales team or sales funnel, this may be a part of it. This is worth taking a look at and listening to some calls and seeing if perhaps your reps are a little off the beaten path and suffering from this dreaded curse.

If you work with scripts or outlines of key questions and a sales voice then this could be an issue as reps become more senior and comfortable. Each day or week they make a small tweak to the approach leaving out a question, perhaps a particular benefit or stop using their lead in phrasing. While alone, each change may be 1 or 2 degrees off center but the combined effect can be far larger than that.

So how do you figure out if your reps have the curse of too much knowledge and what can you do to fix it? Here are some easy ways to diagnose, followed by tips on how to repair it:

    • Ask a manager in another division to listen to some calls. See if they can follow the pitch or have an idea of your products benefits if they do not already sell it. If not, then imagine how your prospect would feel.
    • Listen in calls for lots of questions early in the pitch from your prospects. Are they re-asking the same questions multiple times? Are some of their questions so remedial you think they may be multi-tasking or not paying attention? Chances are the prospects are paying attention, your reps may just not be.
    • Follow along in your pitch, script or any other sales playbook you armed the team with on each call. Make sure you practice what you preach and follow along and not give your reps any leeway when reviewing them. If they are not selling and not following your playbook then the best solution is get back to how they sold when they just got out of training.

Fixing it can be as easy as listening to two calls back to back. One from an early sale and one from an early loss. In most cases, you will figure out that your rep is off track and they will hear it for themselves. They will be confused just like their prospect.

So, is the curse of knowledge the only reason that reps will have lumpy sales? No, wish it was that easy. That said, it is a common issue within a team, especially if you have a singular and straight sales process.

Another tip, pick up Made to Stick. It is a good read and there are additional ideas on how to work with your team and get your ideas through to them as well.

Happy Selling.[/fusion_text][/fullwidth]