>Prospects need a reason to choose you. They need valid points, benefits and value in order for them to choose to do business with you. Why not? For them, moving services or changing a product they use is a hasstle. It is an interruption to their daily routine and their habits, so their has to be a purpose to make the move.

You can sell the features and benefits of your products and services all day long, but in the end the decision will be made based on who you are and what you, personally, bring to the table. We talked in earlier blogs about the importance of being a resource, someone that your prospects and customers can rely on for good information and quality advice. Now, we need to take that up a notch, you not only need to be a resource you need to be an expert. You need to know more about your industry, your product or service, and your market then anyone else. You need to be confident in your ability to both use and teach the benefits of your product and service. You also need to be recognized as an expert in your field. Building your reputation will significantly increase your ability to turn your prospects into customers.

No I do not mean you need to be written about in magazines, featured on television and publish books. I just mean first you have to believe you are an expert, and second you have establish that reputation among your peers, competitors and your customers.

So how do you become an expert. There was a great article in the Harvard Business Review a few years ago entitled “The Making of an Expert,” which talked about the fact that experts are almost never born they are developed. How great is that? What it means is with dedication, hard work and focus anyone who has the desire can become an expert.

The article went on to say that real expertise must pass three tests:

  • Performance that is consistently superior than that of their peers – this is simple enough, if you want to be an expert you have to outperform others in your company and your field.
  • Produces concrete results – to be an expert you need to be able to produce. What would be the point of listening or taking advice from someone who does not meet goals, build the bottom line, or produce revenue.
  • Can be replicated and measured– without the ability to measure it you cannot share it or improve it

So what does this mean for us in our quest to be viewed as experts in terms of the products and services we sell. How do we become experts in our industry?

  • First you need to study and master your craft – there is no magic bullet here, you have to do the work. You need to dedicate yourself to consistently learning about your product or services, and learning about your industry. You need to read books, listen to CDs, attend conferences, watch DVDs. You need to know what information is coming out that is valid, what works and what does not, and the latest trends. If you want your prospects and your peers to view you as an expert then you need to be able to offer credible ideas, resources and information. In other words, you need to know what you are talking about.
  • Second you need to practice. Yep you heard me, there is no way around this one. If you want to be good at something you have to practice it. Sales calls, sales planning, networking events and opportunities. You need to prepare and you need to practice. Spend time role playing, working in front of the mirror and even “performing” for the family pet. If you want to be an expert at something you need to devote yourself to the age old art of practice.
  • Third you need to measure and improve. Track and measure then review. We have discussed this before, the importance of tracking and measuring your performance. However, in your quest to become an expert this becomes even more important. Why? Experts need to constantly improve. If you want to become and remain an expert, you need to understand your results and be consistently looking for ways to improve them. Measurement helps you remain at your peak performance level.
  • Fourth you need to promote. What good is being an expert if no one knows you are an expert? You need to make an effort to establish your reputation as an expert. No, you do not need to be obnoxious or bold about it, but you need to subtly take action. How? One of the easiest is to help people (on a small scale) free of charge. When you are out networking or on a sales call, find out what issues people are dealing with in regards to your product or service and give them advice, a tip, make a connection for them. In other words do anything that is helpful free of charge. Second, offer free seminars, write articles or produce online workshops – again free of charge. This will position you as the go to person in your field of expertise. Third, use social networking to share great articles and ideas about your subject. People will come to see you as a leader. Lastly, over deliver when working with clients. Give them more than they asked for and give them something to talk about.

Becoming an expert takes time, dedication and focus. In the end however, it is worth it. You feel proud, confident and secure in your abilities to take care of your clients. All of this moves you one step closer to turning your prospects into customers!