Once upon a time, companies held most of their value in the physical things they owned and produced.

From the machines that create products to the products themselves, from the equipment workers use to get their jobs done to the building in which they work, physical capital made up about 60% of a company’s total value. The other 40%? That was the intangible stuff, like customer relationships, organizational culture, employee skills, and so on.

That was back in the 80s. Things are very different now.

Today, the vast majority of an organization’s value lives in those non-physical, intangible assets – upwards of 80% by some estimates. 

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that your company’s tribal knowledge is incredibly valuable. In fact, it’s a critical competitive advantage. But if it’s locked away in the heads of your team, you simply can’t tap into that value. You might even lose it altogether.

While we can’t put a dollar sign on those risks, we can shed some light on the common places where tribal knowledge sucks up your resources – and what you can do to keep things in check.

  1. When employees leave

Losing an employee isn’t cheap to begin with. Think of all the costs: HR, time filling out paperwork, working with a recruiter to source new candidates, pulling managers and teams away from selling to interview, training and ramping that new employee up to full productivity. The list goes on.

Then there are all those nuggets of knowledge that walk out the door with those employees. (Some estimates say that employees take up to 70% of company knowledge with them when they retire or start a new job.) The worst part is, you don’t know what they’re taking with them until it’s gone. Or you might never know it existed in the first place.

That leaves your team scrambling to get the information they need. What happens now, when that one rep who always seemed to have the answers is gone? 

  1. When new reps join

New reps go through a lot in a short amount of time when they first join your organization. training and onboarding, some job shadowing and mentoring, and a ramp-up period where they’re not quite at full productivity.

That period can be as short as three months or as long six (or more) depending on the length of your sales cycle. During that time, new reps need a lot of support and ask a lot of questions.

If your tribal knowledge lives in the heads of your reps, you bet that new team member will be tapping shoulders and pinging chat to find the answers they need. That pull other reps away from their work, too, so even fewer people on your team are running at 100%. 

  1. When reps underperform

Okay, so there are lots of possible reasons a sales rep might miss their targets. Without getting into the weeds, let’s think about the kinds of support they might be missing.

Maybe they’d benefit from that cold-call script your best rep uses or that objection handling tactic that always seems to work for reluctant prospects. But if they don’t know these things exist, it won’t do them much good. Same goes for other tips and tricks others on your team develop with experience. 

Long story short, if you haven’t captured what makes your best reps tick, you can’t expect to bring others up to their level of performance.

  1. When reps can’t find what they need

Actually, reps are pretty much always busy. If they take time away from selling to search for information that may or may not exist, it’s a waste of valuable time.

And when reps can’t find that nugget, they’ll ask around, which takes other people from your team away from selling, too. It’s a vicious cycle of productivity drain.

If they still can’t find the answer, most reps resort to creating content on their own, which can lead to inconsistent messaging and even inaccuracies when dealing with prospects. All of this can hurt deals further down the road.

Squeeze the most value out of your tribal knowledge

Your goal is to capture that departing employee’s knowledge before they even think of leaving. To give that new rep everything they need to work independently and confidently when they’re learning the ropes. To give those underperforming reps the support they need to sell like the best. To give your whole team answers at their fingertips when they need them the most, not after hours of searching.

And to get there, you need to do three things:

  • Identify the knowledge you want to capture. What do your best reps do? What questions come up most often for new recruits and seasoned sellers? What gaps are in your current Playbooks™? 
  • Find a place to put it. Chances are, you’ve got a bunch of this knowledge captured already – it’s just scattered across different systems and repositories. A platform like Kiite can help bring all of it together in one place so reps don’t need to search far and wide.
  • Make sharing the norm. The most successful teams make sharing a part of the process and even reward those who dig into their knowledge banks the most. With management and sales leaders leading the charge, change really can happen.

So what’s your knowledge worth? Don’t let 80% of your value slip through your fingertips.

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