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Enhancing product and service knowledge

From: Thinking Like a Leader

Video: Enhancing product and service knowledge

I once surveyed thousands of business owners about what traits they felt made an employee invaluable. One of the common traits was that the most valuable employees know the products and services of the business better than anyone else. We've provided a simple worksheet to help you analyze each of your company's products or services. You could do this for a variety of products and services, but let's start with the top three. These could be the three that sell the most or the ones you're most directly involved with.

Enhancing product and service knowledge

I once surveyed thousands of business owners about what traits they felt made an employee invaluable. One of the common traits was that the most valuable employees know the products and services of the business better than anyone else. We've provided a simple worksheet to help you analyze each of your company's products or services. You could do this for a variety of products and services, but let's start with the top three. These could be the three that sell the most or the ones you're most directly involved with.

For example, let's say that I'm selecting bottled water as my first product. I will enter sales for the last year in the next column. If you don't have easy access to this information, you might want to ask someone for the total volume of sales for this product in the previous year. Next, describe the product in your own words. There may be a product description on the company web site or brochure. You can use that as a starting point, but it's important to use your own words.

This is a great opportunity for you to get more familiar with the product. So, I might say that we provide delicious bottled water in environmentally friendly containers, with a hint of essential nutrients and vitamins. Next, consider the greatest benefit to our customers. Remember that features are really what I just described, but the benefits are how the product improves someone's life or affects them emotionally.

I might say that our water provides instant refreshment plus helps people stay energetic throughout the day. Next, think about the greatest area for improvement. Do you have any ideas about how to improve your product or service? Perhaps you've heard customers complain about an aspect of the product, or you see a way that it could be better. Use the worksheet to identify one or more suggested areas for improvement. In the bottled water example, perhaps we'd use more attractive labeling or packaging.

The final question is the toughest. It asks, what can I do to improve this product or service? What can you as an individual do to make that improvement? Perhaps it's as simple as making a suggestion. In my example, I might make a suggestion to the graphics department for a possible improvement to the labeling. There's no right or wrong answer here, but try your best to come up with an idea for what you can do to improve the product or service.

Repeat this process for at least two other products or services that your business provides, completing the worksheet as you go. This simple analysis of the products and services can contribute to your value because you'll be able to speak more confidently when asked about those products and services, and you'll see opportunities to improve your company's market position. Employees who can do this are often perceived as more valuable.

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Thinking Like a Leader

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Dave Crenshaw
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