Posts Tagged 'networking'

The year of the experts

Former Solicitor Gen...
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I’m not going to beat around the bush. I may call myself an IT consultant, but really I’m a sales person. ALL consultants are sales people. In whatever guise they wrap up their advice, they are essentially selling their clients their opinion. And the most effective consultants are the ones who are the best sales people. However, this is not a bad thing. Too many times I hear friends, family and colleagues whine about being sold too on the phone, via TV adverts and over the internet. That’s the mark of a bad sales person. If your client knows he’s being sold too, you’re no longer a consultant.

So what’s the difference between a sales person and a consultant? In my humble opinion, the clue is in the title. Consultants consult with their clients. They find out what problems they’re having. They understand how that is effecting their business. Then on the back of this, they recommend a solution, either theirs or someone else’s, that they are confident will resolve the issue at hand.

This is all common knowledge. However, one thing that distinguishes good consultants from great consultants is the fact that some pursue clients, while others attract them. And the reason? Because the latter are perceived to be experts within their field of knowledge. Think about it. When was the last time you received unsolicited communication from a lawyer or solicitor? Usually, lawyers and solicitors position themselves as experts within their field of knowledge to attract the bulk of their clientele. I’m not saying they don’t advertise, but I’m sure in your day to day life you will see more adverts for second hand cars and double glazing than you will see for law firms.

So how do we position ourselves as an expert within our field? First off, here comes the mandatory disclaimer! I’m no expert and am always on the lookout for people who have techniques that I can try. However, I have already learnt a lot about self marketing and positioning to have picked up a few tips that stand me in good stead.

1) You will very rarely find an expert who is anything but wholly confident about the information they are giving. Whether it is derived from their own research, or from learned colleagues/mentors, the majority of experts exude confidence when they communicate with others. So I guess my tip would be BE CONFIDENT when talking to potential clients. Whether this means learning back to front the technical aspects of what you are talking about, or whether through various visualisation techniques and self empowerment methods you become more self confident as a person. The end results will be your clientele will have more respect and assurance  in you and your opinions.

2) Once you are confident in your self and your offering, network. Network like mad! Pick up the phone, go to trade shows, participate in online discussions, go to relevant seminars. The more visibility you give yourselves, the more people will start to recognise you. And if you are constantly doing the rounds  at various shows, the more expertise they assume you have taken in. If you know how to network (and to be honest, I’m still learning…) then this skill is invaluable, as the more influential people you can attract into your mastermind group, the better. This will give you the benefit of having a rich source of knowledge to tap into when you need it most. In some circumstances, this can also act as an accreditation for some clients to validate you by.

3) Never ever stop learning. EVER. It’s all well and good going out to lunch with big executives, but if you do not know what policies have recently been implemented within your industry, or do no know the recent movers and shakers within your vertical, then you will only look out of your depth. This is NOT a good look. Confidence and networking can only take you so far. If you don’t know about the bigger picture, then you need to learn and QUICKLY. And if you’re one of those big executives who think they’ve learned everything there is to learn within their sector, as Jay Abraham so eloquently puts it, “you’re probably losing business and don’t even know it!” In a nutshell, if you think you’ve learnt everything about your product, learn everything about your clients. Or learn everything about your industry. Or learn everything about your competitors. Or learn everything about your governing body. Or learn everything about successful consultants. I cannot stress this point enough.

There are many many more ways in which you can become an expert within your field. I have only highlighted the 3 main ways in that I have used in my industry. Is it working? Only time will tell! However, one thing that I am sure about is that in this downturn, many more consumers will be nervous about parting with their money. If you are able to offer them unbiased, qualified advice, they will be a lot more susceptible to following you and your opinions.

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