Become an Expert: How to Make Prospects Come Begging for You

Providers of professional services come in many roles and titles, but the truth is, professional service customers exercise a brutal taxonomy — to them, any given provider fits one of UFABET ราคาบอลดีสุด

two categories: expert or salesman. Now, we’ve all met so-called “experts” who were little more than very clever salesmen, and we’ve all worked with salesmen who’ve surprised us with genuinely helpful expertise. But again, it’s our customers’ perspective that counts, and in their minds, the distinction is simple: Salesmen are people who chase after us, hungry for work; experts are people we actively seek out, money in hand.

Obviously, we want to be experts. While ordinary service providers spend inordinate amounts of time prospecting, experts enjoy the enviable task of cherry-picking the opportunities that come to them. But there’s a huge gap between how we’d like to be seen and how our prospects and customers see us. To close the gap, we have to “walk the walk and talk the talk” — we must fulfill the expectations that customers have of experts. Here’s how:

Publish! Speak!

Consider this scenario: Two competing Internet security firms make their presence known in a hypothetical trade journal, Data Defense. One spends a fortune on a full-page ad touting its “proprietary” security protocols. The other is named in the small, italicized print under a by-lined article, submitted by its president, about emerging trends in global encryption schemes.

In the minds of the reader, which company is the expert, which the salesman? A no-brainer, right?

We may not know squat about a given subject, but ever since elementary school, we’ve learned how to identify the experts: They’re the people who write books and articles; they’re the speakers in front of rapt audiences. If you want to be taken seriously as an expert, you need to do the same.

Ask questions before giving answers

The copywriter Bob Bly, author of 61 books and countless articles, is one of a small handful of direct response writers who unreservedly qualify as an expert in the field. A short time ago, he launched his own blog and — funny thing — almost every post features an open question thrown to his readers.

Crazy? Like a fox. For starters, his questions draw comments; comments draw hyperlinks; and hyperlinks draw higher search engine rankings. He also gleans important insights that become part of his own personal databank of wisdom. But most important of all, his questions position him as a leader, a man willing to test unfamiliar waters.

Sales people always have answers — and their answers are always (surprise!) whatever they have to sell. Experts ask questions, learn, and share what they learn.

Position yourself as a problem-solver

Suppose you’re a corporate attorney with an expertise in due diligence. You could try to impress your prospects with your degree, your years of experience, your deep knowledge of bewildering legal arcana — and most likely, you’ll be answered with a shrug of the shoulders and an indifferent, “So what?”

Or you could tell your prospect that you can slash the completion time of their next merger in half. Or save them hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary filing fees. Or intercept troublesome regulatory interference. Chances are, your prospect will raise her eyebrows and say, “Tell me more.”

Same knowledge, different packaging. Whenever possible, transform your expertise from “knowledge you have” into a problem-solving power that materially benefits your customer.

Speak from experience

At a trade conference for catalog marketers I attended many years ago, the keynote speaker was an utterly unprepossessing middle-aged man — bald, short and almost as wide as he was tall. Yet he captured our attention and respect almost instantly. How?

The previous speakers recapped what we already knew: recent economic trends; rises in paper, printing and postage costs; the emerging threat of strange new beast called the World Wide Web. But the keynote speaker had something no one else add — the results of a survey he conducted personally with the owners or presidents of the country’s leading catalogs.

He turned his access into exclusive knowledge, then applied his experience to interpreting the survey’s responses. The result: In a ballroom half the size of a football field, you could hear a pin drop. He spoke from experience none of us had (or few us could approach) and completely cemented his credibility as an expert worth listening to.

Watch the company you keep

As an author, consultant and speaker, Alan Weiss pulls in a seven-digit income each year. Much of that money comes from speaking engagements. He actively solicits work, but he never participates in “showcase” previews, group auditions in which a dozen or so speaking talents are presented to hundreds of potential customers — an opportunity many up-and-coming speakers would give their teeth for.

So why won’t Weiss join the showcases? To Weiss’ way of thinking, if you participate in a meat market, then you’re just another piece of meat. A commodity. Not a premium talent. Not an expert.

People judge us by the company we keep. Be selective about the events you attend, the clients you nurture, even the online forums in which you participate. If you’re not choosey, it’s unlikely you’ll stand out as a person worth choosing.