Become an Expert in Your Industry- Part 1
There is an adage mentioned in numerous texts that says that you must help yourself first so that you can then help others. This has application in many different arenas. If we spin it for our purposes here, then I will state that before you can sell anything to anyone, you must first be an expert in whatever it is that you are selling. You must first help yourself by studying and researching the field, technology, service, or offering you will be representing. Only by doing so can you truly become an industry expert and be in a position that you can advise and guide your buying market.
If we look at this on a broader scale, this happens in most professions. For example, a doctor will go to college and medical school for years prior to practicing medicine. Not only will they go to school and study their specialty for years upon years, but after they are practicing, they will continue to research, study, and engage in further development of their field and expertise so that they can stay up to date and current on any new findings. Can you imagine if someone had the ability to decide that they wanted to be a doctor without studying? What if they could open a practice without credentials? How would you feel going to that doctor for help? How much confidence would you have in their ability to perform, guide, or advise? Would you feel safe and secure with their support and help? I’m sure not! We put our faith in doctors who are proven professionals, are open to learning more, and are experts in their field.
Another example is that of a financial planner. You may have today, or have plans in the future, to utilize a financial planner to help you manage your money and portfolio. You may have a combination of assets, retirement plans, and stocks which you need to ensure are secure and in a position to grow in value in the future. The stock market is a very tricky thing with many variables that can offer great rewards or significant losses in the blink of an eye. International market activity, trends, news, politics, economics, and many other things can cause great fluctuations in pricing from one second to the next. Your financial planner needs to have the background of how the market works from a global perspective. They need to know details about market leaders and trends, as well as key components that can affect your investments. They need to have expertise in the history of the markets as well as a concept of how general future projections will impact your overall financial plan.
Placing something as important as your financial future in the hands of another to manage takes a great amount of trust and confidence in that person. This person needs to be an expert in their field with a proven track record. They must have a wealth of knowledge so that they can make the best decisions to support your goals. Would you trust this to someone who was not an expert in their field? Would you give this responsibility to a person who was not qualified? I hope not, as doing so could lead to financial ruin.
How do I become an expert?
The most efficient way to become an expert is to focus on a few different key areas; market trends and economics, end user group similarities and differences, competitive offerings, and future development plans and projections. In part one of this blog, we will focus on market trends and economics, and end user group similarities and differences. In part 2, we will touch on competitive offerings, and future development plans and projections. Let’s review the first two topics so that we can get an idea of the meaning of each and pose questions as to how to relate it back to what you are selling today.
Market Trends and Economics
Here is a list of questions to ask and topics to research to ensure that you are thoroughly familiar with your market trends and economics:
How has the market changed in the last ten years?
What were the key business metrics that judged market success?
What were the top priorities of the market players? How had technology changed their business operations?
How had their customers changed?
How did they reach their customers?
What was the stability of the current market?
Another key item to consider was the economic status of the buyer.
Were they profitable?
Were they more profitable today than in years past?
What were they spending money on in their business?
What were their margin levels on their offerings?
What was constantly being developed inside of their business, and how did that affect their budgets?
In your sales environment, you can approach the market in the same way. You may have variations to some of the questions above if you are selling directly to an end user as opposed to a vendor or business. If this is the case, then you can simply apply the questions to that group. For example, when I first worked in telecommunications, I ran a retail store where I would sell directly to the public. I reviewed the market in the same way but applied each of the questions directly to my customer.
How has my customer base changed in the last ten years?
What were their expectations of a vendor?
What was important to them as they made their buying decision?
What was their economic status?
What were they spending their money on?
End User Group Similarities and Differences
In many industries, there are different customer types as well as user groups. Through research, you can quickly identify trends of each segment and learn the importance of the elements of each. Some areas to focus on are buying cycles, decision makers, budgets, functionality requirements, service expectations, integration availability, and unique characteristics of these groups. Conversely, there are also many commonalities as well, which need to be considered in any sales cycle.
Who is using this product or service?
How are they using it?
What solution can it provide for them?
How large or small is this purchase of your solution to them?
Do they have a budget for this service?
Does this an impulse buy or is this a planned and budgeted asset purchase?
How are other people or groups similar to the purchaser using the product or service?
By discovering the answers to these questions, you will identify the true needs of your customer base which in turn will match up to your products or solutions offered.
Why is this important? Becoming an expert will position you as a trusted advisor and authority in the industry. This will add credibility to your offering, present you as someone who people should talk to, and lead to further success!
In our next blog “Become an Expert in your industry – Part 2” we will cover competitive offerings and future development plans and projections in more depth. Happy selling!
Excerpt from “Capture Your Power in Sales and Business” ©2018