The Curse of Knowledge

Posted on April 29, 2020

Ryan Stewman



In any field of work, I believe we should be striving to become an expert. If we are constantly honing our craft, seeking new skills, and staying up to date with the latest innovations of our industries, a by-product of our efforts should be expert level status.


There is, however, a problem I’ve seen arise when business people know so much. It’s what I call the Curse of Knowledge.


Knowledge is great. The application of that knowledge is even better (in fact, it’s useless without action). When we’ve been doing something for so long, in my case fitness & nutrition coaching for 18 years now, we forget what it’s like to NOT know what we know.


We also tend to forget the average person, not in our line of work doesn’t have a clue about 95% of how we operate.


Nor do they care.


People want a result, and most people don’t care how we arrive at that result (obviously we want it to be legal, ethical, efficient, etc). In the sales process, it’s easy to start flexing the knowledge we possess with the intent to appear intelligent.


We’re trying to make a good impression with our prospect, and it’s often an ego boost for us. Unfortunately, this is where we can easily talk ourselves OUT of a sale.

The Curse of Knowledge

Years ago I was very guilty of this. Someone would come to me wanting to lose weight, a very common goal as you know. Assuming someone knows the basics of weight loss (poor assumption on my part), I would start talking about shit they don’t care about.


The energy systems we use and Oxidative Phosphorylation and ATP and blah blah blah! I’d feel super smart, meanwhile, my prospect had that glazed look on their face like “Look dumbass, I just said I wanted to lose weight.”


I’m sure there are plenty of times I ruined what could have been a great working relationship.


It’s great when we know our shit forwards and backward, and there is a time and place to put that on display. But for many of us, we have to keep in mind everyone doesn’t know what we know.


They don’t have the knowledge we have in our respective line of work, nor do they care about all the details. They have a goal, and it’s our job as the “expert” to help facilitate that goal as painlessly as possible.


When talking to a prospect, dumb it down to a 1st-grade level. It doesn’t mean you’re talking down to someone, it means you’re going to make it so easy to understand that even a 6-year-old would grasp the concept.


If during the course of the conversation you feel your prospect wants more information or a deeper level of understanding, then ask them! Some customers will be more knowledgable than others and will appreciate the details.


THAT is when your large arsenal can come into play. Otherwise, stick to the basics, get the deal done, and get out of your own way.


Knowledge can certainly be power, and even more powerful is knowing exactly how to use that knowledge. Give your customers the experience they deserve, and let simplicity work its magic.


Aaannnddd GO!

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