We live in a world where all the basic information about your products and services are available on the web.

Your prospects have done most of the research on their own.

When they engage you for a conversation, they are not looking for someone to repeat what’s already available on the web.

They are looking for someone to educate them over and above what they gathered from their self-study.

Being knowledgeable is not a luxury; it is the minimum requirement for you to meaningfully engage with your prospects and customers.

If you are not, you will be wasting their time and most probably setting yourself up to lose  credibility and any hope of moving your opportunity forward.

Not being knowledgeable hurts your personal brand; hurts your company’s brand and might just make your competition look very good.

Here are three things to consider on this topic:

1. Have a Beginner’s Mind

Here is a definition of the beginner’s mind (from Wikipedia): Shoshin is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind.” It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese martial arts. 

You not only need to be curious but also invest in learning about the following and more:

  • The macro trends that will impact your target market
  • The worldviews of key players in your target market
  • The shifts in the industry dynamics that will impact your target market
  • Use cases for your products and offerings across the industries
  • Latest writings from thought leaders that players in your target market respect

2. Learn to Capitalize on Effectutation

Effectuation, according to Darden professor Saras Sarasvathy, is “a logic of thinking, discovered through scientific research, used by expert entrepreneurs to build successful ventures.”

In the insightful paper, “What makes entrepreneurs entrepreneurial,” Prof. Saraswathy outlines his research on the major difference between the mindset of the entrepreneurs and the mindset of others.

Quick summary: Others will identify a goal and look for resources to help them reach the goal.

Entrepreneurs identify all the resources they have and look for goals to reach with those resources.

This kind of thinking is called effectuation. 

You are in a conversation with a prospect about a particular opportunity. With the power of effectutation (using your prospect’s resources + your offerings) you can paint a compelling future that will show the prospect “how mch more” they are getting if they make the deal with you.

3. Teach Something Relevant

Your prospects are intelligent but they are also busy.

Their “busy”ness is your opportunity.

Since they don’t have a lot of time, there is always something that they want to do and learn but it is only on their “to do” list for now. 

Many times these gaps are something they want to fill to further the agenda of their business unit.

Your job is to quickly identify what those gaps and teach something relevant.

One thing that you will achieve by doing this is that you will keep the conversation to keep going strengthening your relationship to move the opportunity forward.

Other Posts in this series 

A is for Alignment (title changed on Salesforce.com blog) 
B is for Bonding
C is for Confidence
D is for Detachment
E is for Excellence in Small Things 
F is for Follow Up (On Huffington Post)
G is for Grateful
H is for Hunger to Succeed
I is for Intent to Serve 
J is for Judgment (On Huffington Post)
K is for Knowledgeable
L is for Likeable
M is for Margin
N is for Nurturing (On Huffington Post)
O is for Onward
P is for Please
Q is for Questions (On Huffington Post)
R is for Resourcefulness (On Huffington Post)
S is for Storytelling
T is for Teaching

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