One of the main topics in my speeches has been being an expert and having knowledge of your business. I always preach the benefits of expertise – how clients and customers will seek you out as a source of information. The goal is to have knowledge of your products,industry, etc., and to also be perceived as “the Source” of information about anything relating to what you do and sell.

A few questions to ponder. What does it take to be an expert? Is it product knowledge? Is it industry knowledge? What defines you or your company as an expert? Here are six ideas that may help make you position you as an expert.

1. How long have you been doing what you are doing? Consider how long you’ve been in the business. Would you rather have open-heart surgery from someone six months out of medical school or the doctor who has been “Head of Surgery” at a major hospital for the last fifteen years? The company who has been in business for a long period of time, with obvious growth, has a level of perceived expertise and success.
2. Do you and/or your company participate in industry events such as association meetings, trade shows, etc.? It takes more than attendance. It takes participation. Are you on panels? Do you write articles for the industry publications? Consider being involved in industry events - maybe even being on the board.
3. Are you recognized with awards by your peers– or even by others outside of your industry? Have you received industry awards? How about a quality or service award? Or one of the biggest awards of all, The Malcolm Baldridge Quality award? Think about how this positions you with your customers.
4. Are you sought after as an expert in your business and industry by public media? I have a friend of mine who is in the wrecking business. When there is a disaster, such as a collapsed building or a fire, he is always appearing on news shows as the expert in how to clean up the “mess.” What strategies are you using to get media to recognize you as the expert of what you do? Think about how your customers might perceive you if they saw a news story that looked to you as an expert or source of information.
5. Do you have loyal customers? This is an indicator that you and your company deliver quality products with good service. Customers won’t do long term business with companies that don’t treat them right or have a product/ service that doesn’t do what it was promised to do. A track record with repeat customers speaks volumes.
6. Are you a trusted advisor? I first heard the term “trusted advisor” at a financial planners meeting. The attendees were financial advisors, and I thought it was a clever way to create an image of trust. Since then, I’ve seen and heard the term numerous times in numerous industries. The bottom line is that customers trust their vendors to help them with what they need. They show the expertise in all areas mentioned above, but they add one more important element to it all. They exemplify the highest level of moral and ethical behavior. They always
take the “high road.” They are known as fair and honest. They go the extra mile. They are not only good at what they do. They are trusted!

Expertise does not come easy. It is earned over time. And, while it may be a powerful concept that helps differentiate you from others in your field, it is not the final answer.
Remember what Gerhard Gschwandtner (Personal Selling Power) once said:

“Your customers don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care!”

Author's Bio: 

Shep Hyken, CSP, CPAE is a speaker and best selling author who works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. His articles have been read in hundreds of publications, and he is the author of Moments of Magic, The Loyal Customer and the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestsellers, The Cult of the Customer and The Amazement Revolution, which was also recognized as a New York Times bestseller. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus program which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset.