How to Become an Expert

sales presentation
Share your expertise.

It's sad but true that people don't want to talk to salespeople. That's what makes cold calling a generally unpleasant experience – so many of the leads you call lose interest and shut down as soon as you identify yourself as a salesperson. On the other hand, people are usually quite interested in talking to Experts. If you're an expert on a given topic, you get respect even from people who don't need help on that subject.

And the people who are interested in that topic will line up to talk to you and get your advice.

That's why rebranding yourself from salesperson to expert can have a huge effect on your sales and particularly on how pleasant you find the selling experience. The process of turning yourself into a subject matter expert isn't complicated, but it does require a commitment of time and energy on your part. However, you'll find that your investment of time and energy is amply repaid in additional sales, a stronger business network, and plenty of referrals.

The first step in this process is deciding on your area of expertise. No one can be an expert in everything; at best you'll have a basic understanding of many different subjects. You're much better off specializing and than focusing on those prospects who have a need for information on that specific subject. That way, instead of having a lot of prospects with lukewarm interest in what you know, you'll have a smaller number of prospects who are vitally interested in what you can teach them.

Obviously, you'll want an area of expertise that is connected in some way with your prospects and existing customers. If you sell computers and are an expert in golf, you'll struggle to make the connection between your area of expertise and actually selling anything. On the other hand, your specialization doesn't have to be a perfect match with your product – it just needs to be a subject that someone who buys your product is likely to be highly interested in.

The aforementioned computer salesperson, for example, could be an expert in using certain software programs for maximum effect.

While you're looking at your possible areas of expertise, consider subjects with which you already have at least a strong familiarity. You might as well take advantage of your existing knowledge and talents, and save yourself unnecessary work. Make a list of all the things you know about that are in some way related to the products you sell, then go through that list and pick out one or two that are most likely to be very important to your best prospects.

Once you've picked out your one or two topics, the hard work begins: you need to actually become an expert in those topics. Being an expert doesn't mean knowing everything there is to know about a subject. It means knowing everything your average prospect would know, plus a little more, and also knowing how and where to quickly find anything that you don't already know. Depending on the nature of the topic you choose, your best sources of information might be your coworkers, your existing customers, magazines and newspapers that focus on your subject, the Internet, taking classes on the subject, or a combination of the above.

As you gain knowledge on the subject of your choice, you can start making your expertise public. You can write social media posts or blog posts about various aspects of your subject; include articles in your e-newsletter; speak at related events such as trade shows, or even write a column or series of articles in a newspaper or magazine. The idea is to let people, particularly prospects, know that you are an expert on your subject and that you're happy to help them. The wider your reputation spreads, the more prospects you'll have coming to YOU and asking for your help.

Always be generous with your knowledge. You want prospects and customers to think of you as an expert first, a salesperson second. As an expert called in to diagnose and resolve a prospect's problem, you'll have a lot more credibility than just another salesperson.

If your product is indeed the solution to his problems, and you present this solution from the standpoint of an expert, he's far more likely to trust you and give it a try.