The curse of knowledge in action. As you now know from my previous post, we all suffer from the curse of knowledge. To help you better understand its power, here are a few examples of how the curse of knowledge impacts various groups of individuals.

As you read through them, keep this one thought in your mind.

“If you confuse, you lose.”

Sales professionals

I’m sure no one would argue that being in tune with the needs of your customer is a critical component of success as a salesperson. Knowing the right questions to ask and matching customer needs to products and services, are primary requirements.

Usually, when the curse of knowledge impacts a salesperson, it's during the upsell. For some reason the prospect of a higher sale causes some sales folks slip into insider speak.

They try to “sell” a product based on its features or worse, the company’s “storied” history of providing quality products.

“At company XYZ, we've been providing superior quality products since 1888. This history of craftsmanship continues with our latest model, the X234. It has 78 features and can be configured to perform 19 different functions in 36 different states and 12 countries.”

Buzzer sound – You lose. The customer is no longer listening. Why?

Because you stopped talking about the customer's problems. When you stop talking about your customer's problems, they quit paying attention, to you as the salesperson and to your overall brand.

Always talk about the problems your customer is trying to solve. If the upsell product is a better fit explain why without mentioning the product specifics.

Tell a story of a similar customer who used the product to solve the same (or similar) problem. Then once you have their attention, they will be more willing to listen to what you have to say next.

Senior Leaders

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the higher up in a company you go, the more the curse of knowledge affects you.

Whether you realize it or not, as you move up the corporate ladder, your language begins to change. You say things like EBITA and EBITDA in a conversation like you’re asking someone their first name.

You start to only see the benefit of activities and projects in terms of an ROI or a CAGR. If people (read as those below you on the org chart) can’t explain to you what the ROI or CAGR is for a project or initiative, you might get frustrated and might hold up the project.

Worse, you may think to yourself, “How did this person get their job?”

The real impact of the curse of knowledge on senior leaders is empathy goes out the window because you've forgotten what it's like to not know the definition and application of the acronyms you use on a daily basis.

To correct this, the next time you say EBITA (or any other fancy financial term), stop yourself from continuing and say the words for each letter out loud like this, “EBITA or Earnings Before Interest Taxes and Amortization…”

Everyone including the seasoned veterans listening to you will appreciate the reminder.

Career professionals

For career professionals, the curse of knowledge tends to apply itself as you look at your career. It rears its ugly head when you want to update your resume, your LinkedIn profile or answer the question, “Tell me about yourself.”

Test this out now. Take a minute and think about your last job or your current role. What did you do?

When asked this question, most people tend to think about what they did. They focus on the tasks of the role and overlook the accomplishments. There are two reasons for this.

First, the corporate mindset of what have you done for me lately forces you to forget about the past and instead, focus on your tasks much like a Gantt chart for a project.

Second, as you look back at your career, your experiences are so ingrained they have become second nature to you. You view your achievements as “normal” and therefore push them to the back of your mind.

Because of this, identifying your achievements is difficult. To you, they are “just part of the job,” nothing to write home about, yet it’s your accomplishments that get you noticed.

On our websites

Our websites should be the one place where people can go to learn about how your products or services help them solve a problem. Instead, 97% of the time the information on a website is 100% uselessness.

In my experience, websites more often than not become a repository for everything. Instead of having a focused message that invites people into the story we are telling, we tell them everything.

And I mean everything.

Nothing is off limits including when you started our business, why you started it, who works for the company, the goals for the year, and in general how great, and wonderful you are. You do this because the curse of knowledge says you should.

So, if any of the statements above describe your website, here’s a quick tip.

Your customer doesn't care about your business or your story. They care about their own.

Your business only becomes relevant when you solve a problem for them. If you’re not clear about the problems you solve for your customers, then you are confusing them, and you lose.

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