CCA 5.1 Lesson 1: Product Knowledge

The Power of Knowledge

Therefore, I say, know the enemy and know yourself.

In 100 battles you will never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril.

–Sun Tzu, The Art of War

In scanning over a ranking by selected marketing executives of major firms dealing with qualities needed for selling, one quality always was listed in the top five. The quality is product knowledge. If sales professionals don’t spend the necessary time doing their homework or learning about the products and services of their company, they will eventually be another number added to the high turnover that exists in the selling industry. Why is it so important to know your product? Why should you know information about your company? If you don’t, the following things will happen to you in your selling experience:

■ You will lose sales and encounter more than average sales resistance.

■ You will lack self-confidence.

■ You will find selling unenjoyable because of the fear and stress that will emerge.

■ You will give poor sales presentations.

A sales professional becomes a very important source of information to the buyer during the buying process. Necessary time should be spent learning about the products, services, and company information so the sales professional can fulfill the role of an assistant and consultant to the buyer.


This first item of discussion is, “what really makes up a product?” When customers buy a product, they buy much more than a physical, tangible item; they buy a package of benefits. People buy products that will make their life more comfortable and satisfy their wants and needs–in essence, products provide personal benefits. People also buy numerous services. Customers expect their life to be benefitted from their purchases. Besides receiving a physical product or service, the customer also purchases credit, delivery, installation, guarantees, warranties, advertising, customer service, maintenance, and all other services that are involved in selling the product or service. Customers may not initially realize it, but they pay for all these additional items when the product is originally purchased.

What is a product?

A package of benefits.

A tangible, physical good.

An intangible service.

Any value-added services.


A thorough knowledge of your products and services is essential for sales success. The most successful sales professionals are those who can communicate the value of their product offerings to their potential customers. Customers depend on sales professionals for information. Sales professionals of all industries and products should acquire product information in the areas that are listed below.

  • Research and development history of your product. Many companies spend a great deal of time and money in the development of their products. Products are researched, developed, tested, modified, and retested many times before they finally are ready to hit the marketplace. This information can be useful in assuring the customer that your products are well-suited to the customer’s needs and problems.
  • Manufacturing facts. You will need to know exactly how your products are made, what materials are used, and what characteristics they possess. The materials in the construction of your products can often be translated into important selling points and features.
  • Product warranty and guarantee. Learn what your product’s warranty and guarantee really consists of and educate your customer in this area. This can be one of the strongest selling tools you have to reduce the risk in the mind of the buyer.
  • Know the performance characteristic of your products. When customers buy a product, what they are really buying is the performance of the product. Successful performance examples should be solicited from happy customers through case histories and testimonial letters. A customer will be more confident in buying your product knowing that it has a successful performance history for other users.
  • Know the servicing and follow-up support of your company. An important concern for many customers is what the company and sales professional will do after the purchase has been made. If your products require servicing over time, your customers should be informed of service contracts and assistance that are available. Know the company policy regarding repairs, replacement parts, and returns. Your customers will want to know this information, especially if your company excels in these areas. When customer assistance is needed after the sale, you should not pass the buck; customers expect you to have all the answers.