On a basic level, it’s true that a great salesperson is a great salesperson. If you’ve got the gift of the gab you can sell stripes to a tiger whether you know what you’re talking about or not. It’s all in how you relate to customers, how well you speak of the company you’re representing and the general impression of confidence that you give; chances are that even if you’re not actually an expert on what you’re selling, you will still know more than the customer does and be able to give an air of authority to what you’re talking about.
However, there are a few notable exceptions to this as there are some industries where knowledge really is everything and your customers will probably know as much as you about a product; in these situations the salesperson is selling the brand and themselves as much as anything else. This means they need to make it clear that the whole company knows what they’re talking about, and more than that they need to be able to discuss the real nitty gritty of what they’re selling – because they’re going to get some difficult questions thrown their way.
So what are the areas you need a specific salesperson in?
You won’t be able to sell just anything to a discerning, experienced construction company, in terms of equipment they already know exactly what they need and are looking for you to sell them what they ask for at a good price and with great service, not to blag to them about irrelevant services they don’t need. Similarly, on this occasion they are going to understand their project much better than you, and you need to be able to respond to their needs in an authoritative and effective way.
Anything technical is going to need someone who is fully in command of their knowledge of the subjects – almost for the opposite reason of construction. The thing with technology is that the vast majority of people don’t know how it works, and the minority that do know know it pretty well – so you either will need to be able to converse authoritatively with someone on the same knowledge level as you, or understand the technology well enough to be able to explain it in simple terms. A generic salesperson with little technological understanding will not be able to blag it as well as they expect. A really good resource to find the right person for the job on this is to make use of technical recruitment agencies to help you hit the nail on the head.
So there you have it – though salespeople can turn their hand to any product in a way the rest of us can only admire, there are still times when you need to pick someone who really knows their niche.