You’re in business for yourself! Congrats on choosing a job in sales. “But wait, I didn’t choose sales!” you might say. Actually you did. And now your whole livelihood depends on your sellability. *cue panic*
“The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell.
And the funny thing is, you’re a salesman, and you don’t know that.”
— Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman
Why is it we cringe when we hear the word “sell”? It’s not a dirty word but it conjures up thoughts of door to door solicitors and pushy MLM sellers.
It’s our history with the sell that makes the word a little less than palatable, but here’s the truth. If we chose the path of entrepreneurship, we need to end up pretty good at sales if we want to survive our journeys. And, it’s within each of us to change the way the sell is done. It must be a helpful, authentic, compassionate act. There must be a great deal of trust and the buyer will only feel that trust she sees you as an expert.
Let’s talk about establishing expertise in your messaging. But first, there’s some interesting history to understand.
Sales strategist and author, Daniel Pink, talks about information concepts a great deal in his expert work. I’ll share them, because I think they are perspective gold in understanding what anyone wanting to be seen as an expert needs to do.
Since the beginning of time, humans have been selling across the globe. Until the invention of the World Wide Web In 1989, we lived in a world of information assymetry. Sellers had more information than buyers, so the person you had to trust the most was also the person who could also dupe you. Hence the “buyer beware” feelings developed around the whole idea of sales. Sellers held the upper hand, and this assymetry persisted for thousands of years.
With the invention of the World Wide Web, information access shifted, and very rapidly we moved from information assymetry to information parity. The access is now far more equalized. Think across any industry- healthcare, automotive, and fashion to name a few. The consumer has access to loads of insider information through a variety of accessible channels and direct access in many cases to obtain products and services as competitive prices, but here’s what you need to be aware of as a sales person in order to be successful in the age of information parity.
Your audiences are information rich and context poor. Don’t believe me? Look at the social media fights and people sharing one poor article as fact and basing whole life decisions and strong opinions on it.
The information lies at their fingertips, however they consumer does not have the industry understanding that you do. No longer is it the seller’s job to provide information to make a sale. People are quite information overloaded actually, so spitting more facts to them is a sure way to not sell- in one ear and out the other quicker than you can blink. Most people presume because they have access that they know more than they really do. Everyone knows friends who are Google doctors and YouTube financial analysts. I’m sure you can think of a couple friends in your circle!
People think access gives them expertise, and they couldn’t be more wrong. Your experiences and your education in your industry give you expertise, and your job above all else is to curate all that is out there to the people. Just like a museum curator has to sort through thousands of artifacts to bring the right pieces to a museum, it is your job in the information age to bring the right information to the forefront and show your customers the wrong information that will hurt them.
It’s when they see, feel, and realize they have too much information and can’t sort it. It’s when they see you are expertly guiding them through the landmines of fake news and junk drawers of information to what will help them. It is when these things have happened, that you have moved someone to see that they can’t DIY their whole life, and you are viewed as the expert worth paying.
Your ability to curate establishes your expertise. Your curation skills are largely dependent, however, on your true level of industry expertise. I can’t emphasize two things enough- find your lane and stay in it and always be in the pursuit of learning from credible sources to deepen your expertise. Invest in your continuing education. Invest in information access to which your audiences DON’T have the same access. Take paid information classes from those knocking it out of the park in your field; read or listen to the books of industry leaders; go to seminars and workshops. You can’t curate well if you’re not learning expert information. If you’re not learning from sources beyond what your audience can access, they’ll have no need to listen to you. Mediocrity of work has no place for success in the long-term game of business.
Next week, I’ll tell you a little more about how and where to move the curated information to your audiences.
But really start thinking about what your audience thinks they know and what you, as the expert you are, really know. If you need to sharpen your knowledge, jump off this blog and take a course or buy a new read! If you’re doing too many things in your business, pare down and go deeper. Get specialized. You have access to enrich your expertise and leverage your expert status to sell confidently and authentically.