Industry Knowledge is Power in Sales

Devon-McDonald by

Attention all sales reps: read, read and read some more. Some of the best advice that I can give to a sales rep (particularly as a newbie) is to stay as educated as possible when it comes to the industry that he/she is selling into.

It sounds like a no-brainer, but unfortunately, it often gets overlooked. Why? It takes time and patience to sort through all of the information on the web, etc – and let’s be serious; most of us sales reps have a serious case of A.D.D.

So what is the value of taking 20 minutes out of your day to stay up to date on your target industry’s news? Here are just a few examples:

  • Your findings may help you better understand the pains of your prospects, thereby helping you shape your call script and email templates
  • You may learn about a new key player in the industry — this could be your next big sale if you execute a proper plan of attack
  • You will be able to “small-talk” with your prospects about key trends, etc. and they will certainly notice that you are not a typical sales rep – you really know your stuff. You are an expert and you can truly add value

Talk about competitive advantage


Here are some tips to help you easily stay on top of industry news:

  1. Do research (online yourself or speak with a Marketer on staff) to find out top publishers and blogs in your buyer’s industry
  2. Ask customers whom you have good rapport with what publications they read to stay abreast of their industry
  3. Begin following the publications/contributing writers aka “thought leaders” on their social networks (Twitter primarily)
  4. Subscribe to the Bloggers’ RSS feeds
  5. Now here comes the part that might take some getting used to… Every day, as you’re sitting down to your desk and taking your first swig of coffee, spend 20 minutes reading the top stories in your target industry in your Twitter and RSS feeds. Twenty minutes of reading (even thorough skimming) on a daily basis will help you become the industry expert that you want to be, and that your prospects expect you to be.

On a final note, if you find a groundbreaking article that incorporates your customer’s industry, a trend, using technology, etc — share it with a marketer at your expansion stage company so that he/she can incorporate it into content such as a newsletter, blog post, whitepaper, etc.

Here at OpenView Venture Partners, I spend a least an hour a day reading through sales thought leaders’ blogs and articles. I digest it, often times retweet/share the best content, and then pass it along to our marketing team to post on OpenView Labs for our network to benefit from it.