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8 Keys to Coming Off as the Expert in Whatever You Sell

Solve their problem instead of simply selling them something.
8 Keys to Coming Off as the Expert in Whatever You Sell
Image credit: Reza Estakhrian | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Sales Strategist and Author
5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The most successful salespeople in the world don’t come across as salespeople at all. Instead, they carry themselves as experts in their industry who can solve key challenges for their ideal prospects. Simply put, if you’re in the business of selling, then you’re an expert in whatever you sell. It’s up to you to make sure your prospects know it.

While your prospects only see what’s going on at their own companies, you can offer them a valuable bird’s eye view of trends across the entire industry. But do your customers see it that way? If not, it’s because you’re coming off as salesy instead of as an expert.

Related: The 15 Characteristics of People Who Succeed at Sales

The following eight simple keys will help you build a reputation as an expert in whatever you sell, so you can earn prospects’ trust and start to crush your sales goals:

1. Don’t think like a salesperson.

If you want to come across as an expert to your prospects, you must first stop being salesy. That means you have to stop thinking like a salesperson. When you think like a salesperson, you jump at any chance to pitch your product or service. Instead, slow down and listen. Strive to identify if your prospects are a fit in the first place. Thoughtful intentionality is the first step towards being viewed as an expert in the eyes of your customers.

2. Adopt a doctor’s mindset.

Instead of thinking like a salesperson, try adopting the mindset of a doctor. I’ve never met a doctor who used a pitch like, “We have this incredible new procedure that I just can’t wait to tell you about! It’s going to change everything!” Rather, good doctors ask questions to make sure they truly understand your pain before making a diagnosis. Mimic this approach by making it your goal to fully understand your prospects’ deepest frustrations before you ever propose a solution.

3. Lose the P.E.P.

Most salespeople are full of P.E.P. -- Persuasion, Enthusiasm and Pitching. They’ve been told that this is the key to closing more sales, but it simply isn’t true. If you have to persuade a prospect, then that prospect probably isn’t a good fit for what you sell. Enthusiasm comes off as salesy and insincere. And pitching is the opposite of trying to understand a prospect’s problem. Instead of turning your sales meeting into a P.E.P. rally, adopt a genuine approach that seeks to understand and diagnose key challenges. When you do, prospects will view you as an expert they can trust.

Related: You Have 3 Goals the First Time You Meet a Potential Client. Popularity Is Not One of Them.

4. Share challenges you’ve observed.

As an expert, you have valuable industry information that your prospects would love to know. Capture their attention and increase your perceived value by sharing some of that information at the start of your conversations with prospects. Try listing a few examples of challenges you’ve seen in their industry. This will provide value, give the prospect something to relate to and serve as a launching-pad for some great discussion. 

5. Ask about their challenges.

Once you’ve shared a few common challenges you’ve observed, simply ask, “Do any of these challenges ring true to you?” Simple questions like this create more value when you sell, in addition to engaging prospects and encouraging them to open up to you. If you can get someone to articulate a challenge that they’ve yet to share with anyone else, you’ll immediately gain respect as an authority in your field who can tap into, and ultimately resolve, big problems.

6. Know when to walk away.

What do you do if you ask, “Do any of these challenges ring true to you?” and your prospect answers “no?” Well, if a prospect doesn’t have the challenges you can solve, then it’s probably not a good fit. When this happens, you must be willing to disqualify. Walk away without looking back so that you can spend your time with qualified prospects instead. Customers will respect and trust you more when they notice you aren’t trying to push a product they don’t need.

7. Remember the 15 percent rule.

Salespeople should never talk for more than 15 percent of a meeting. Talking doesn’t put you in control of a conversation; great questions do. Engaged body language, thoughtful questions and small prompts such as, “really?” are all great tools to keep the customer talking. Follow this rule, and prospects will view you as a thoughtful listener and an expert.

Related: How to Close Deals Without Coming Off as Salesy

8. Never need a sale.

In all fairness, there may be times when you really do need a sale to pay your bills, but prospects should never be able to tell. When you come across as successful and confident, prospects will believe you don’t need their business. Instead, you’re simply meeting with them because you think your offering will truly help them. Relaxed confidence is attractive to prospects, and an air of success will suggest that you’re an established expert in your field.

You’re already an expert in your industry. Now it’s time to act like one. Which of these keys will you use to establish yourself as an expert in the eyes of your prospect? Take this free 1-Minute Sales Strengths-Finder Quiz for even more insight into improving your sales strategy.

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