Passion - Not Product Knowledge

Gaetan Giannini

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In our work with growing businesses we see a recurring theme when it is time for one of the founding members to hand over the reigns of sales and/or marketing to an employee. They say to us, “This new person just isn’t getting the job done like I did. Well, I guess it’s because they don’t know the product like I do. " While it is true that the new person probably doesn’t know the product as well as one of the founders, that’s not the problem. The problem is passion!

When you talk to a small business owner you can see, hear, feel, smell and taste their passion for their product. In many cases we could almost say they are inseparable from each other. When the new person arrives we make the transition from a person for whom this product or service is a life’s passion, to someone who is doing something because it is their job. Knowledge of a product’s features and benefits can be taught, but passion needs to be imbued into the fabric of the organization as it grows.

To do this, two things need to occur. First, the sales and marketing employees need to have a stake in what’s going on, and have an inbred tendency toward passion. All good salespeople have this passion. Typically, the passion is viewed, by the customer, to be a passion for the product or service that the seller is peddling. In reality, the passion stems from the monetary and intrinsic compensation that the salesperson receives for doing his or her job well. Second, the owners of a company need to take special care, and use intense creativity to ensure that their passion is communicated internally and externally, and that this zeal permeates the entire organization. It is in this area where it often useful to find an outside creative team that will get to know your organization inside and out, and work with you over the long term to assist in transforming the enthusiasm of the founders into the culture of the company.

Gaetan Giannini is the Department Chair and Assistant Professor at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa. He is also an independent, marketing speaker and consultant. He can be reached at 610-606-4666 x 3427 or


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