I never knew watching Television channels like Discovery or National Geographic Channel could come to great use in my sales career.
Back in 2013, I received an inquiry from Chrysler, an automobile company. Now, I had never worked with an automobile manufacturing company before.
Hundreds of thoughts racing through my mind, the first one was– how auto companies manufacture cars (thanks to a show I watched on Discovery channel).
Though a greenhorn at in-depth knowledge about automobile technology, I had read a few articles from McKinsey Quarterly about basic technology in the Automobile industry.
I began picturing various solutions in my mind immediately, upon hearing about the challenge of moving from manual data entry to digital.
My first call with the client was a success. I actually got a chance to visit their plant in Detroit and eventually sign the contract.
Sounds like a good ol’ happy ending? It sure was, but was only able to do this because of the following reasons:
- A high-level understanding of the industry
- Being able to know certain keywords and jargon used in automobile manufacturing
- Understanding of solutions and how they can solve a particular challenge for that industry
On average, out of every 100 salespeople I interview, just about 2-3% have some understanding of a particular industry or processes involved.
Whether you are working in a company that focuses on niche industry solutions or a company that provides industry agnostic services, it is imperative for sales and marketing people to understand how a specific vertical or industry works.
Now now, before the heavy judging begins, I am not saying that I am perfect. Or that you should become perfect, or know every jargon and vernacular used in industry, but it’s good to have a know how.
Here are a few reasons why you need to learn how organizations in different industries work –
1) Always prepared
Every time you get a new industry lead or you’re assigned a new vertical by your boss, you are already ready to get started from Day 1 without having to take a lot of time to prepare.
This means you can start showing results faster. Like the Boy Scouts say, always be prepared!
2) You speak your prospects language
Knowing about various industry processes helps you speak the same language as your prospects.
This helps them in relating to you immediately and it also makes you sound like an expert– an expert who understands their pain points and suggests the right approach to a given issue every time. Win-win, eh?
3) You send the right message to your prospects
You will be able to draft your sales and marketing messages as well as your presentations, specific to the industry.
Will also be capable of presenting solutions that fit your prospects’ organization and solve their challenges. You will immediately stand out in an RFP or RFI process when your competitors are bidding with generic messaging.
4) The Right Fit
Knowledge of the industries to target and drive business from, along with the ones to avoid.
This saves a great deal of time for companies following an industry agnostic approach.
5) The Wise Owl
Knowing various industry processes and following a solution-centric and consultative approach puts you ahead of your colleagues, and your team will start looking up to you as the person who knows what he’s talking about.
Doesn’t it sound amazing to fit into all the five reasons mentioned above?
Well, you have to start somewhere. I am going to share a few resources that helped me learn whatever little I’ve learned over the years.
1. Television and Youtube:
The idiot box sometimes also helps us gain interesting insights about happenings around us and a wealth of knowledge. Watching channels like Discovery Science, National Geographic Channel, TLC, BBC, CNN, Fox Life, etc. can help you gain lots of knowledge.
Youtube: There are more than 1 Billion videos on YouTube and thousands of videos on various industry topics. You can subscribe to channels like “How it’s Made.”
The obvious one. Various online resources provide a plethora of knowledge on different subjects.
Here are a few top websites that I closely follow to obtain industry information. Please feel free to add any other websites that have helped you, in the comments section.
This is a management consulting company working with a majority of industries. You can sign up and subscribe to their newsletter. McKinsey provides high-quality strategy articles across various industries.
The Harvard Business Review has information and articles across a wide variety of subjects and industries. And the best part?
You can access the information for free, although they have paid access if you want exclusive content in print and online.
The Aberdeen Group is a research organization providing research information across various verticals and topics. You can access several reports for free if you sign up to their website.
You will also get complimentary access to particular reports if you participate in their periodic surveys. Fun and knowledge on the go!
Gartner is a research organization trusted by top companies around the world.
Their research reports are highly valued, and several companies base their predictions and business decisions based on these reports.
You don’t want to miss out on their blogs, articles, and research papers.
This is a brilliant website and resource pool for strategy articles across various industry domains. Here is a good example.
This is a challenge every organization faces.
Although the differences in classification systems of an industry may appear subtle, they can be significant for your future prospects.
Training salespeople and building internal vertical-specific competencies is no easy task.
Having motivated individuals with a passion for learning what you want is crucial to the success of your organization.
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