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Knowledge Is Not Power—Wisdom Is Power

There was a time when knowledge was power. Knowledge was power because so few had it and because so little was known by anyone. Then knowledge was power because so few had access to education, to facts, and to information. And then it was power because it was hard to find, hard to access, hard to organize, and hard to understand.

None of this is still true.

Now knowledge is something less. The Internet has made knowledge ubiquitous. Facts and information are easy to find, easy to sort and organize, and easy to understand. And it is portable.

What used to serve as a differentiator and a source of power is now neither.

In sales, knowledge was something that the salesperson possessed. It was something that made them necessary and useful to the client. They understood their product, competing products, the options that were available, and could rattle off the features and benefits of their products.

Unless you sell something very new or very, very complex, your knowledge is widely known, it is indexed, it is searchable, and your clients have the same access that you have.

If Not Knowledge

Knowledge isn’t worth as much as it once was. It isn’t enough to know the facts, the options, the features, and the benefits of your product or service—especially if I can Google them.

What is increasingly valuable is wisdom. In sales, wisdom is found in business acumen. It is the advisor in “trusted advisor.” That makes wisdom rare, and it being rare is what makes it power.

Wisdom is made up of knowledge, experience, and understanding. Wisdom is what allows a person to make decisions, to offer advice, and to achieve the best possible outcome in a given situation. It is a deep understanding of how things work.

Salespeople who possess wisdom know what choices lead to what results, what risks are worth taking, and what risks should be avoided.

Wisdom is insight. It’s the ability to diagnose and to size up a situation where much is unknown, discerning what is wrong, what is missing, and what might improve it. It is also intuition; it is what feels right when no knowledge or experience is available.

What Now for Sales?

This is why business acumen is required to succeed in sales, and why sales acumen alone in no longer enough. Business acumen is wisdom, and wisdom is what is now required of salespeople.

To create value for your clients and to help them achieve the outcomes that you sell, it isn’t enough that you provide them with knowledge. It is critical that you provide them instead with wisdom.

What you provide needs to be the wisdom that comes from experience, and not just yours, but that of your entire organization and all its partners. You need to provide an insight that knowledge of the facts alone doesn’t provide. You need to possess the ability to take knowledge, experience, and understanding and turn them into insights that get your clients results. You need to apply your wisdom to your client’s business problems, challenges and opportunities.

Wisdom is a differentiator. Wisdom is the new power.


Knowledge is cheap, ubiquitous, indexed, accessible, and portable. It is no longer power. The new power is wisdom. It is the ability to make choices that generate the best results and outcomes.


1. In your industry, is knowledge still power? Are you mistaking knowledge for power?

2. Are you collecting the experiences (and your company’s experiences) to couple with your knowledge to build the wisdom necessary to really be a trusted advisor?

3. Are you spending as much time learning your clients businesses and acquiring the business acumen necessary to diagnose and prescribe solutions that get your clients the outcomes that you sell?

4. Are you collecting a network of contacts that supplement your wisdom and business acumen by filling in the known gaps you have in yours?

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Filed under: Sales 3.0

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