In previous blogs, we  have examined Holden’s Four Stages of Sales Proficiency and the Holden’s Model Intent Holden’s Model Focus, Holden’s Model Relationship and Holden’s Model Value The fifth dimension and final dimension within Holden’s Four Stages of Sales Proficiency is Holden’s Model Knowledge.

Holden's Model Knowledge

Holden’s Model Knowledge

Stage I Emerging Sellers spend most of their time amassing large quantities of data, which consist of specific facts and figures, for example, a long list of customer executive names. Today’s online world has no shortage of data. Websites, blogs, social media sites such as LinkedIn, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems all contain millions and millions of data points.

Stage II Solution Sellers differ in that they are able to turn data into information, which is data with a purpose. For example, a customer organization chart takes the data from the list of executive names and places it into a structure that conveys the level of authority of each person, along with who reports to whom.

Stage III Compete Sellers have the ability to rapidly derive significant value from the right information to produce insight. An example of this would be to combine the organizational chart with other information to determine the degree of influence that certain individuals have, independent of authority. This provides sellers with insight into the people on whom they should be calling within the account.

The most advanced Stage IV Customer Advisors have the rare ability to discern what information is important to developing insight, as well as how they can effectively use and apply that insight. This is wisdom. For example, once the wise seller has identified a powerful customer individual, he or she will politically align with that person to fuel a competitive strategy. In fact, by doing so, it is sometimes possible to even determine how the competition will most likely respond to the strategy. As such, insight—and the application of wisdom to insight—almost always leads to enhanced insight, which, in this example, is predictive in nature. Directionally predicting the future is the most powerful manifestation of insight.

It is critical to gather information that allows us to develop insight—particularly non traditional insight that is counterintuitive for most people. The 80/20 rule applies here; that is, 20 percent or less of all information we could gather on an account is essential to developing important insights. The problem is that most people aren’t able to determine which 20 percent subset of information is important. As a result, we see many CRM systems and traditional account plans focus on all available information. This approach is born out of ignorance, as people are not able to identify key information and, therefore, want the seller to collect all known information.

Regarding knowledge, look at the Holden’s Model Knowledge figure above. At which stage would you objectively place yourself? Where would you place your sales organization?

Source: The New Power Base Selling: Master The Politics, Create Unexpected Value and Higher Margins, and Outsmart the Competition by Ryan Kubacki, Jim Holden