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January 29, 2018

26 ways to success - K for Knowledge - " Knowledge Is Of No Value Unless Put Into Practice" article published in The Hans India on 15th April 2016

Knowledge Is Of No Value Unless Put Into Practice

One of the things that separates the haves (the successful people) and have nots (not so successful average people) is knowledge. Many of the have nots might have many ways to get along in life but miss the cutting edge for success – knowledge. Knowledge is what separates a winner from an also run.

Knowledge is the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association. It could be the knowing or understanding of a science, art, or technique. Being knowledgeable should be a life time obsession.  What are the areas in which we should aim to have good knowledge?

1. Subject knowledge: Let’s take a case of a hotel management graduate applying for a post in a reputed hotel. The candidate should have in-depth knowledge about the hotel operations, the different areas for which positions have been advertised, the job description and job expectations from the candidate. Apart from this the candidate should also know the dress and the demeanor that is expected. He should understand the jargon and the nitty gritty of running a hotel business. In short the company expects that the suitable candidate to be job ready and join as soon as possible. Gone are the days of extensive on the job training. In the modern world one has to be ready to get down to business as fast as possible.

2. Customer Knowledge: “If there is 24 hours’ time to cut the tree, sharpen the axe for 23 hours and thirty minutes”. The time spent with the client is short and precious. Try to research and find out as much as possible about the company and about the customer. Find out the company’s turnover, its product range and the possible motive for thinking of buying the new products. In-depth knowledge about the buying process and people involved is very important. With better research it is quite easy to get the customer to think positively about the products on offer. Understanding the consumer behaviour, his buying style, the objections raised and the buying signals would go a long way in making the life of a sales person become easier and more profitable.  

3. Competitor Knowledge: “No man is an island”. Man is a social being and thrives in other’s company. Similarly, none of us can operate in isolation. Knowing about the competitors’ products, their prices, their selling strategies and their plans will go a long way in blunting their competitive edge and swinging the deal in our favour. Respecting the competitors and not being too patronizing or being too contemptuous is the best way to tackle the situation. Realize that all days are not going to be ours. They win some, we win some and the life should go on.

4. Cricket Knowledge: Most people think that all business transactions are very rational and cold blooded. But the reality is very different. Each one of us is a bundle of emotions and one emotion that binds all Indians is the love for cricket. All aspiring business students and people who want to be in public space should inculcate a love for cricket. What better way to get past the defence of a reluctant customer than to have an excited discussion about Virat Kohli (knowing pretty well that the customer is a huge fan of Virat Kohli). Once he opens up the chances of a business deal with the customer become brighter.

5. Movie Knowledge: Indians love movies and India produces the most films in the world.  Indians are captivated with the story, the emotions and the song and dance. Thus whether we like it or not working knowledge of films, the latest blockbusters and the stars is very essential. This might not be very useful in business scenario but could provide talking points in social gatherings and parties.

6. Political Knowledge: India is the 7th biggest country in the world and the biggest democracy. Indian politics are a melting plot of contradictions, surprises, intrigue and drama. Developing political knowledge by watching good English channels and reading reputed newspapers and journals is imperative. Let not disassociate ourselves from the political cesspool. Like Mahatma Gandhi said “be the change that you want to be”. Being political aware and knowledgeable would make us less tolerant to political mistakes and may shower in cleaner politics and better governance.

7. Self-Knowledge:  Before we know about others it is better to know about ourselves. What is our SWOT? (What are our Strengths, weaknesses, and what opportunities and threats do we face?). It is better to build on our own identifiable strengths and try to minimize the weaknesses. If a person is good at social interactions and not very good at numbers, it is better to do the sales and marketing functions and leave the accounting function to a person who loves numbers.

8. Kinesics Knowledge (ability to read non-verbal cues): All of us display non-verbal cues. Popularly called body language, Kinesics is the art of reading body language. In many cases the customers might say something and mean something else. “I will consider your offer”. When this is said with clenched teeth means that the customer is not at all interested in the offer. A sales person talking without meeting the eye is signaling that what he is saying is a lie. A person sitting in a chair with arms folded has become defensive. Learn to read non-verbal cues and see the difference it makes in your life.

9. New Knowledge: Process of acquiring new knowledge has to be continuous. Peters Principle says “A person rises to the level of his incompetence in the organization”. Yes dear readers there is no printer’s devil. You have read it right – every person rises to the level of his incompetence. If a person is extremely good at sales and marketing function, he would rise to the level of a regional head and stagnate. He is incompetent to grow any further. Once the person has acquired all the skills related to sales and marketing, new knowledge has to be acquired and only with new Knowledge can the person grow to the next level. He has to acquire Knowledge about accounting, finance, Human resources, legal issues and strategic Management to fast track his career to the next level.

10. Effective Demonstration Knowledge:  product demonstration is a very important aspect of selling a product. Most of the products/services that the customers are thinking of acquiring are new to them and there is the fear of the unknown and skepticism.

Skepticism that the product would not work and fear of ridicule that if a wrong purchase is made that people could make fun of them. A sales person struggling with the product demonstration leaves a very bad impression. The prospective customer would think “oh my god the trained salesman himself is finding it so difficult to use the product, what would be my fate if I were to buy it?”

The product demonstration must be so smooth that the customer should think that using the product is easy and convenient. An effective product demonstration will ally the fear and will make the customers more receptive to the product and make them seriously consider procuring it.

Two of the best product demonstrations are the making of the Indian rumali roti (rumal in Urdu means a handkerchief) and that of the making of the pizza base. The Indian rumali roti is a big flat chapatti. The dough is rolled on a platform and then the chef would throw the dough into the air. The dough would spin circularly and would get bigger and bigger all the time. It is quite magical to watch.

Same is the case with the Pizza base which is thrown in the air. Indian street foods sellers have mastered the art of product demonstration. The product demonstration is so good that even causal passersby stop to have a tuck in.

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