As a sales professional, you’re always working to earn attention. One of the most effective ways to earn attention is by establishing a reputation as a trusted industry expert. When you’re recognized as an expert, you can enter into a business relationship as trustworthy resource and peer. Trust is gold, because you must establish trust before you sell anything.
It’s not enough to simply call yourself an expert. Sure, a lot of people do, but giving yourself a nickname doesn’t necessarily mean it will stick. If you’re the only one referring to yourself as an expert, you probably aren’t one. It’s best to leave the monikers for other people to bestow upon you, while you do the work necessary to earn them.
To earn the “expert” title, you must embrace your role as a teacher. It is your responsibility to educate your prospect about what you bring to the table and why it’s useful to them. It’s not enough to simply know about your product or service. You must demonstrate your expertise by not only telling but also showing and doing.
Your expertise is best displayed when you take the time to understand your prospect’s needs, tailor a solution for them, and educate them on why its valuable. Acting as an expert takes you out of the role of “salesperson” and places you in the role of trusted advisor throughout the sales process and beyond.
So, how do you establish yourself as an industry expert?
Teach your prospect something
Your responsibility is to show your prospect what becomes possible by working with you. Your solution is either new to them or it’s unclear to them how it will help them achieve their goals. Until you’ve demonstrated what your offering makes possible, you’re not going anywhere.
Your talking points can’t just be about your product. If you have a prospect’s attention, you have it because they want to hear how your offering will help them reach their desired outcome. To keep them interested and engaged, you must focus on teaching them something about your product or service that demonstrates how it will help them achieve their goals.
Tailor your solutions to their needs
Your pitch should be specifically tailored to the context of your prospect’s goals. When you speak about your solution in their terms, you become a resource for them. They will look to you to provide additional context for different situations.
During your initial calls, you won’t have time to make every point you want to make, and you may stick to the feature/benefit bullet points that you’ve been taught. That behavior is for amateurs, not for a professional salesperson like you. You’re capable of more, and quite frankly, you have to be. Ditch the bullet points and use your first calls to ask engaging questions. Take what you learn from their answers and apply your solution to those newly uncovered needs. Then, take it a step (or two) further, and talk about the specific outcomes you can help achieve.
Embrace your role as an adaptable advisor
You have to be a chameleon, not a one-trick pony. Otherwise, the product is the star of the show, not you, and I think that’s backward. Not to mention, your prospect won’t feel you understand their needs. You need to earn your prospect’s trust and respect to earn the “expert” title. When you’re the expert, your prospects will trust your product as an extension of that expertise. If they don’t trust you as a valuable resource, they likely won’t view your product or service as a valuable resource either. Embrace the advisor role and be in tune with your customer’s needs before you start talking about your product.
Be in-tune with your customer’s journey
In order to become a trusted advisor, you must understand where the customer wants to go next. That means assessing the pitfalls and challenges standing between your customer and their desired path forward, and demonstrating how your solution can help them overcome those pitfalls and challenges. It helps to demonstrate that you understand their business environment, not just your product or service.
Understanding the customer’s journey is crucial, but to be effective, you must also understand your own journey. Where do you need to go next? The best fits exist where your best interests are aligned with your customer’s. That’s the definition of a true partnership. When your paths run parallel, your advice benefits both you and the people you advise.
It’s best not to have any dissonance here because you want this to be a win-win situation. On a long enough timeline, any relationship that isn’t win-win becomes lose-lose. So, ask for the next step confidently, knowing that your customer’s success is closely tied to yours.
Not everybody becomes an expert. Most are shortsighted. Expertise requires big-picture perspective. The truth is, it does take extra work, but it pays dividends. Most salespeople would rather just punch in and punch out, do a (mostly) respectable job, and get on with life outside of work. But that’s not you, and that prevailing attitude opens the door for you to really separate yourself from the pack. When you become recognized as that expert, the rest of the day-to-day tasks of selling become infinitely easier.
Want some help getting out of your own way? Download my free ebook “Rethink The Way You Sell: A Guide To Owning Your Sales Process”
I’m Jeff Bajorek, and I challenge people to rethink the way they sell. There’s no doubt in my mind that you and your team would perform better and sell more if you got out of your own way, and I show you how every week in my newsletter.