Sales-Knowledge-in-Service-Companies

Any business struggles with knowledge accumulation and making it transparent to all employees. Especially this is critical for sales departments in service companies.

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Markets change fast. Huge amounts of information, impossible to retain in all entirety, come in every day. Technologies become outdated quickly. In services, every client and situation is unique with their own set of preferences, needs and goals. And in all this chaos, sales people have to react almost in real time to have any chance of retaining a client who requires their service.

Because sales people have to retrieve information fast, it needs to be arranged properly by business, technology and process, demonstrated in the graphic below:

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When you know the business, you can match the client with a particular group that you already have information on from previous documented interactions.

Knowledge of the technical platform or technology to be used on the project or already owned by the client is critical for project evaluations, such as available experts, person-hours, budget, etc.

Finding a business-technology match in the existing matrix can help sales people use relevant information more efficiently to secure deals faster.

But if everyone knows how vital knowledge accumulation is and uses sales knowledge best practices, why isn’t every service company on the top-earners list of Forbes?

Because when it comes to huge amounts of information characteristic of our present moment, processes easily become bottlenecked. Most companies run into one or all of the following problems when it comes to sales knowledge:

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Many things can and do go wrong. For example, if there is no centralized knowledge accumulation point, valuable information will not reach every employee it is intended for. If new information is not passed on and retained properly, sales people will lag behind, which in turn hurts business. If employees lack basic knowledge of process skills or disregard set rules for conducting searches, even the best portal can produce confusing results, misguide salespeople and harm sales.

So what should service companies do to solve these problems?

In order to be efficient, every business has to implement the three following solutions.

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A knowledge space with a single access point can serve as a ‘brain’ of an organization where all valuable knowledge is stored and organized. All employees involved in the knowledge accumulation process should have automated access to it, available to them at any given moment. Examples include intranet portals, documents management systems, data repositories and so on.

Qualified knowledge experts must gather, store, manipulate, classify and retrieve information. Some businesses choose to hire expert help sporadically, but it is critical to have an in-house team. Small firms can use a data officer or knowledge master and larger companies may require a whole department. Knowledge specialists share information with the right employee at the right time and help them expertly navigate a sea of information. Besides, they are responsible for keeping information full and updated.

At the end of the day, no matter how great the knowledge team is, all employees should take part in the process of knowledge accumulation. However, it is impossible without ensuring that processes are transparent, organized and documented. This may be achieved by:

  • making the processes identical for everyone
  • educating employees on using the right search criteria and techniques
  • sharing new information regularly
  • controlling knowledge retention
  • tracking changes in key information and reporting to management for data-driven decision making
  • receiving employee feedback on lacking information and gathering missing knowledge to eliminate gaps.

Using knowledge in sales can help differentiate one service company from another. It is easy to see that trying to reach that goal is not always a piece of cake. Do you agree with our three problems and solutions? Do you have any of your own sales knowledge lifehacks to add? Please share your ideas below.