It’s one thing for your sales team to leave the office every evening. It’s quite another for all the knowledge they hold to go with them.
We’re not talking about the documents they read, the processes they’ve learned, the product details they’ve memorized, or the selling tactics you trained them on. We mean the mountains of information each individual rep learns from experience and keeps in their heads, like which clients need a little more TLC, that great closing tip they read online, or how they dealt with a new objection the other day.
We call that stuff dark knowledge, and if you aren’t using something to capture and share it, you’re running a few risks:
- It’s not available when you need it. Dark knowledge goes on vacation when your employees go on vacation. It gets sick when your employees get sick. It’s busy when your employees are busy. If the person with all the answers isn’t available when the questions are asked, it forces your whole team to wait.
- You might lose it forever. When people leave a company, they take an estimated 70% of their knowledge with them. Along with that goes the knowledge that their knowledge existed in the first place.
- It’s a huge distraction. Guess who gets asked a lot of questions? The people who have the answers. Reps already feel like they don’t spend enough time selling, and fielding questions is just another non-selling task that pulls them away from high-value ones.
- It’s a time-waster. Reps search, on average, somewhere between four and 11 separate repositories for information before they realize it isn’t available, according to an IDC report. In total, searches like this account for over a quarter of their total time at work.
Stop dark knowledge from walking out the door
So what steps can you take? First, don’t panic. Whether you realize it or not, you’re probably capturing at least some dark knowledge in one way or another.
Your CRM system is a goldmine for information about prospects and their interactions with your reps. The playbooks your reps create are a solid go-to for tried-and-tested sales tactics. Your team chat is chock-full of insights, stories, and experiences your reps informally share with each other. Your mentorship program encourages the transfer of dark knowledge, even if it’s not fully documented.
A thoughtful approach to knowledge capture and management means starting from the source, though. Here are three steps to get the ball rolling:
Step 1: Step back and take stock
Pinpoint where there are gaps in your knowledge, and the people who know the answers. Most likely, these will be reps who have lots of experience, experts in a certain field or process, or top-performers who have honed their craft.
Step 2: Document and record
Some teams record their top reps giving elevator pitches or handling objections, turning them into bite-sized videos for others to watch. Others create wikis that house information ranging from company history to who changes the coffee filters. Then there’s those playbooks, which can be updated and shared between colleagues. (Just don’t hide information in a 17-page PDF.)
Step 3: Share it
Unify all the information that’s out there already and the resources you just created. Integrations can help bring scattered information together, or there are systems like Kiite that can do the heavy lifting for you in an easily searchable way.
Most importantly, you’ll need to keep the sharing alive. Build and encourage an ongoing culture of sharing, and you’ll shed light on that dark knowledge before it even thinks about walking out the door in the first place.