The Difference Between “Know-what” and “Know-how”

[Posted by Mike Scher July 10, 2015]

In the world of sales, there is no shortage of advice out there for anyone who wants it.   Countless books have been written on sales and sales process. There are experts upon experts on LinkedIn and numerous sales blogs.   In fact, you are reading a so-called “expert” right now.

A lot of people come to me and FRONTLINE Selling for advice because of the studies we’ve conducted and how we have documented our experiences.   If that makes us an expert, then so be it.

I love to make people think.   I can tell you what to do, but that doesn’t mean you will do it.   If I can get you to think about a problem or a challenge a different way, I have 100% faith in your intelligence and ability to take that thought and run with it.   The best way to incorporate a new idea or technique is to understand why it works and internalize it.

This all leads me to a discussion on the ‘advice’ that you get from various online sources, even if you don’t ask for it.   Unfortunately, most of this advice is what I like to call “know-what” which is not nearly as valuable as “know-how.”

Know-what – is a compilation of a lot of the advice that is out there. It is there to tell you “what” to do.   For example, I recently read a blog post from an “expert” titled something like “Do’s and Don’ts of Prospecting”. One of the pieces of advice was “Don’t overload introductory emails with too much information. Channel your inner Hemingway – use the bare minimum of words to get your point across.”

Surely this is great advice but “how” the heck are most people going to accomplish this?   If we were all Hemingway, we’d be living in Key West making money writing ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’. Last I checked, mimicking Ernie H is a tall order.

What would be valuable is knowing not only “what” to do but “how” to do it.

Here is an example of “know-how.”

Frequently, there are blogs posted about making the ‘gatekeeper’ an ally. Who wouldn’t want to do that? It sounds like a good idea and it is. But if you don’t know how, then what good is it?

The so-called ‘gatekeeper’ isn’t there to necessarily keep you out. They are there to ensure their boss maximizes his or her time. When you call, the ‘gatekeeper’ reacts the same way you do someone rings your phone. The question that pops into the subconscious is “who is calling”.

When someone calls us, knocks on our door or approaches us in a crowded airport, our Limbic system activates. We naturally make a subconscious “friend or foe” judgment and subsequent “fight or flight” decision.

Knowing there is a naturally high level of suspicion when you call, the best way to lower that suspicion (and begin the process of creating an ally) is to simply state your name, your company and how you got to them (referral etc.).   This lowers, but doesn’t totally eliminate, the natural level of suspicion.

Now that you have lowered their guard by being forthright in who you are, simply ask the admin assistant their name, repeat their name (everyone likes to hear their name being said) and ask them for help (this implies you value their input).

These two steps are a “how-to” approach into turning a gatekeeper into an ally.

Try it! You‘ll be shocked at how well it works!


Want to know more – so that we can show you the ‘know-how’?  Click below now!

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