You read Why Being An Expert Will Boost Your Sales Results & Improve Your Business and wanted to be one. Then realised that it’s not an easy option in Why You’re Not An Expert… And Why That’s Killing Your Sales Success & Your Business. So, okay, here it is. The article that you’ve been waiting for, “How To Be An Expert & Make More Sales In 10 Simple Steps” and, while you’re at it, gain more respect, win more clients, add more value, charge more and crush your competition.
This article is not complete. It never could be. Being an expert is a moving target and learning how to be an expert requires different strategies for different people and in different markets but I have built up my business and expertise from scratch and I have helped others to do the same and I want to help you too. I’m going to outline the nuts and bolts of how to be an expert. Read it, try out the strategies, adapt them. Find a way of making them work for you. And then share your experiences. That’s what experts do…
Strategy 1 for how to be an expert… Commit to being an expert.
Learning how to be an expert is not easy. It’s not the right path for everyone. Most people prefer an easier route and there are easier routes through life. Okay, so they’re not as much fun and they’re probably not as rewarding… but they are easier.
And that’s okay. Not everyone has to take the hard route. Not everyone has to put the hours in. And not everyone can or even wants to be an expert. Learning how to be an expert requires commitment. Learning how to be an expert requires focus. Learning how to be an expert requires activity. Lots of activity. You don’t just fall into being an expert. You don’t get up one day and realise that you’re an expert. It does not happen by chance. It happens by design.
In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the magic figure of 10,000 hours. How you need to put in 10,000 hours to be an expert in a field. Is 10,000 hours THE magic figure? Is it the same figure for any industry or any subject? Do some fields require more or less? Do some people require more or less? I don’t know. I didn’t do the research. But I know that being an expert requires a lot of time and a lot of commitment. Experts are the people that put the hours in.
I often talk about “the moment”. The moment when people make the decision to live a life somewhat less ordinary and somewhat more extraordinary. This week I got an email from someone who was a delegate on several of my sales courses about 10 years ago. He was writing to thank me for my part in helping him to make a decision to live a life less ordinary. And he remembers the moment that he made that decision. Perhaps now is your moment?
Do you want to learn how to be an expert? Enough to put the hours in? Enough to take the knocks? Enough to keep your head focused and motivated through the hardships that are sure to come your way? If you do, make the decision now. Don’t wait.
Make your moment… NOW!
Strategy 2 for how to be an expert… Decide what you’re going to be an expert in.
You can’t be an expert in everything. You can’t… right? You need to get that fixed in your head now. You cannot be an expert in sales and management and IT and creativity and blah blah blah. You can be pretty good at all of them. You can be pretty awesome at some of them. But you cannot be an expert.
By it’s very definition, expertise requires you to be an expert in something of a narrow field. That way you can be an expert. That way, you can add more value in that area than anyone else.
Some people are scared of this narrowing of their “specialism”. They think that it means less opportunity for them… but they’re wrong. It means more. But you have to make that decision. I cannot make it for you.
Over the years, as I have become more of an expert in my field, I have narrowed down and narrowed down what I do and what I offer. 10 years ago I would agree to do many things that I would not do now. Ironically, I could do them far better now than I could do them then… but not well enough. Not well enough to add the kind of extraordinary value that I want to add. So I stick to what I am an expert in and know that I can add huge value for my clients.
Start now and thing about what you are going to be an expert in and why that is important to you.
Strategy 3 for how to be an expert… Be passionate.
Be passionate about your subject. You’re going to be spending a lot of time talking about it, reading about it, helping people with it, researching it, mulling over it and dreaming about it. You’d better be passionate about it!
True experts who are not passionate about their subjects are rarer than hen’s teeth. I’m not saying that there aren’t any as there probably are but it’s not the best way to go. Who’d want to devote their life to something that they’re not passionate about? Who’d want to give thousands of hours to something that they found somewhat dull? Where’s the fun in that?
One of the things that we have a lot of in this world is opportunity. More than any previous generation. So, if you want to be an expert, make sure that it is in a subject that you’re passionate about.
What? How do you know when you’re passionate about something? If you have to ask the question, you’re probably not… but, to answer anyway, you know that you’re passionate about something when you wake with a smile knowing that you’re going to be working on it, when you’re animated when you talk about it and when you miss it when you’re doing other things.
Strategy 4 for how to be an expert… Work out how you add value.
Let’s face it, you could learn how to be an expert in something pointless. And that’s fine. If that floats your boat and makes you happy, who am I to argue with you? Ultimately, life is about being happy. If you live a long, happy, healthy life, you’ve cracked it. No debate.
But for the purposes of this article, I am assuming that you want to achieve more through your expertise in your career, your business and your life. And to do that, you need to learn how to be an expert in an area where you can add value. Huge value. The more value you can add, the more you can charge. The bigger the problems you can solve for your clientele, the more in demand you will be. The easier you can make things for your clients, the more they will want to work with you.
You need to know what problems your clients have, why they have those problems and you need to know ways of solving them that others never even think about. And the better you do that, the more successful you’re going to be.
Strategy 5 for how to be an expert… Study, research, train, interview, read…
Having narrowed your focus, worked out what you want to be an expert in and thought about how you add value, you need to increase your knowledge. I have read over 1000 books on sales, motivation and success… plus quite a lot more on how to make great presentations. People walk into my office, look at my bookshelf and ask, “Have you read all of those?”
“Of course not, they just look great,” I reply. Muppet! Have I read all of those? Of course I have. I’ve read the good ones, the bad ones and the indifferent ones. I’ve read the obvious ones, the bestsellers and the ones that no-one has ever heard of. I’ve even tracked down and once paid £277 for a book (yes, that’s right, a normal hardback book… £277) that I just had to get my hands on and had no other way of doing so. And I’ve read far more than they see because I’ve been donating books every time I buy new ones for years as my bookshelf is full and I don’t want to extend it!
I’ve attended courses on my own time at my own expense. Not just now, but when I was an employee too. I’ve interviewed experts, I subscribe to major players in my industry, I have searches set up that mail me on all of the keywords that are relevant to me, I read the industry press, I attend events…
You get the idea. If you want to learn how to be an expert, you have to put in the hard yards. I am not going to knock anyone in particular but I do believe that one of the greatest opportunities of our time (the ability to get your ideas out there cheaply and easily) is also one of the most abused in that it lets any Tom, Dick or Sally read one book and call themselves an expert. You probably know one. They’re the ones that talk tosh.
Anyway, back to the point, if you want to be an expert you need to read, study, and learn everything that you can about your subject, about how it applies to your clients and about how you can help to add value for them using that knowledge in a way that no-one else can. Remember, it’s not knowledge that is power but how you apply it to change peoples’ lives.
Strategy 6 for how to be an expert… Harness your thoughts.
Experts have structure. They are not mad geniuses who spark off in a million different directions. Those people are “experts” too but their inability to harness their expertise prevents them from using it to help others in a commercial way.
So you have to harness your thoughts and there are many ways of doing this. Create courses, write books, start a blog, draw a mindmap, brainstorm, create a document. You work out what works and what is appropriate for you but the key is to draw together everything you know into something usable, repeatable, understandable and valuable.
Strategy 7 for how to be an expert… Get out there and add value.
And now it starts. You need to get out there. People have to see you. Clients need an opportunity to benefit from your expertise. Make it easy for them.
Look at offline opportunities… speaking, writing, industry magazines, newspapers, radio, TV, trade events…
There are a myriad of opportunities available to you and the ones above barely scratch the surface. You need to work out which work for you and for your business and why. You don’t have to do all of them but you do need a structured concerted plan.
Don’t listen to people who say “you must…” write a book / speak / go on Facebook etc. Just because it worked for them does not mean that it will work for you or that it’s right for you. Gary Vaynerchuk set the world alight with a web TV show before writing Crush It. Dani Johnson hangs her hat on her radio shows. Tim Ferriss started a storm with his 4-Hour books. Many corporates I know issue white papers, produce newsletters, offer free seminars… the choice is yours and the opportunities are endless.
Think about how you can start to get yourself seen and start to add value for potential clients. Don’t wait to take the first steps, do something about it today.
Strategy 8 for how to be an expert… Be true to yourself.
This is a broad subject. Probably too broad for this article but that doesn’t make it any the less important. True experts are true to themselves. I’ve quoted Act I, Scene III of Hamlet before…
This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!
Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.
And I will probably quote it another dozen times on this blog but it makes the point elegantly. Experts do what they know is right. They take the right course of action not the easy course of action. They always seek to add value for their clients, they don’t just agree to jump yea high. Experts are prepared to walk away from business when it’s not right for them, when they can’t add enough value and when someone else would be a better fit.
Experts have integrity.
Strategy 9 for how to be an expert… Seek Mastery. Don’t believe you’re the finished article.
Nothing frustrates me more than people who say, “That’s it. I’m done. I am the real deal. I am the best there is.”
I’m good at what I do but I have loads to learn. If I am not twice as good in 10 years time as I am now, I will be disappointed. If I cannot help people more in 5 years than I do now, I will be sad. When I look where I have come from and where I want to be, there’s still work to do. Lots of it.
And that’s a part of what makes me good at what I do… a constant and never ending quest for mastery over my subject and the way I can add value for my clients.
The problem for many is that their ego gets in the way of their development and their ability to be an expert. They think that they cannot admit to still having things to learn because that is some kind of weakness. They’re wrong. Knowing that you still have lots to learn is a strength.
If you’re not growing, you’re shrinking. If you’re not learning, you’re going backwards. If you’re not seeking to add more value for your clients, then you’re adding less.
Find others who do what you do. Find others who will help you forge your path. Find others who you can learn from. Find others who will challenge you to be the best version of yourself.
Being an expert is about constantly learning, constantly evolving and constantly striving for mastery. It’s a fabulous and rewarding journey.
Strategy 10 for how to be an expert… Add your own sauce.
Learning how to be an expert gives you freedom. Freedom to do what you want. Freedom to be the best version of yourself. Freedom to work with who you want, where you want, when you want.
And part of that freedom is working out how you stand out from the crowd. Part of that freedom is working out what is special about you, what is unique about you and what you bring to the party that no-one else can. Everyone is special. Everyone is unique. Everyone has something that sets them apart.
What is your special sauce?
The art and science of being an expert is a huge subject and one with may strategies, facets and permutations. It is in itself a constantly changing journey but it is also an enjoyable one and one that can reap rewards from the moment that you set out on the journey.
In today’s competitive markets, being an expert and having the ability to add uncommon value for your clients is something that every salesperson, every business person and every entrepreneur must consider because of the huge advantages that it can deliver. If you haven’t already, join my success newsletter where I share more strategies and ideas for sales, success and life…