Could It Be the End of the Road for the Product
Knowledge Retail Salesperson?
By Bob Phibbs, The Retail Doctor®
Editor’s note: This article ties in nicely with the “Sales Talk” series that has appeared in the NARDA E-Newsletter over the past several months. The message that is repeated here is that unless a salesperson is able to form a meaningful relationship with the prospective customer, all of his or her product knowledge is relatively meaningless.
Years ago, manufacturers of retail products had one path – especially for more complex sales of products such as appliances, consumer electronics, luxury watches, cameras, hot tubs or even flooring.
They would bring in dealers – or call on them directly with knowledgeable sales representatives – and give them all the knowledge they had along with their marketing materials. Those dealers were to carry the knowledge back from the brand directly to their stores.
From there, the retailer would be charged with making sure his or her crew understood all the parameters of the brand, from its history to the methods of manufacturing, and of course, all the specifications. In time, these highly knowledgeable retail salespeople became veritable geniuses when it came to a brand’s products.
Those product knowledge specialists were revered, prized and compensated for their extreme knowledge. Some even called them “brand ambassadors” before the phrase was used to include anyone with a smartphone. That’s all changed. All of that product knowledge – and then some – can now be found online.
Those unique product specs can be judged and reviewed by everyone from the best writer for Mashable to some blogger with Cheetos fingers. What used to be a retailers’ defining unique selling proposition has become a commodity – and that’s a big problem for retailers. The very thing these retailers and brands were built on – product knowledge – is now readily available with a casual Google or Siri search. And it gets worse.
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