When I was a young girl in grammar school, my mother used to tell me to learn as much as I could. She said, “Learn every subject like it’s your favorite.” That worked for the subjects I was interested in, and I got good grades in those; however, there was so much other instruction that I just couldn’t even pretend to enjoy. Geez I hated science!!!
Fast forward to today. My skills and expertise in business process improvement, technology and documentation are well recognized, but as for cybersecurity and web development, don’t ask me a thing. I know that I must outsource those services.
The act of “selling” when you’re known as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) is very different than when you’re new to the field, or you are a Sales Representative that is excellent at “selling” but without the influence afforded to individuals with a more robust background in the subject. In fact, SMEs are the new sales superstars in their companies.
This situation has caught some businesses off guard because the SME in the company has not been brought forward into the Sales arena. Smart companies are changing the paradigm in recognition of the change in the marketplace. Does this shift make sense for your company as well?
Something to ponder:
Many technology companies have Sales Reps to get the first appointment and close. They also have a Technical Sales Rep who works inside daily except when a technical voice is needed on the product to perhaps help educate or close the sale. Having this approach enables the customer to get the best knowledge, allowing them to ask all of the questions of the Tech Sales Rep and feeling confident in the company’s sales approach.
Here are (2) two very important questions that you must ask yourself:
If you allocate more of the selling to your SME, can your company effectively produce the work? Oftentimes a company’s SME is busy “doing” the work at hand versus going out and getting more of it (aka selling!).
Does your SME want to be a rainmaker? In many cases a SME is more comfortable and better suited to executing the work versus going out and getting new clients.
Reflecting upon your internal sales culture and resources and the market into which you sell will help you decide which direction you should go. There are many companies that do expect a SME to execute all of the steps in the sales process and others that limit the SME’s involvement in selling. For instance, SME’s might not do the prospecting whereby potential clients are screened and qualified for interest and sales potential. Instead, they are brought into sales meetings and presentations at the point when their deep understanding and knowledge can help a prospect to see exactly how the product or service provides competitive advantages and they can do so in a very compelling manner because of their knowledge. They’re selling and the prospect may not even realize it!
Make sure that you know all of the pros and cons before making any changes to your selling operations. You’ll find that’s good advice regardless of who is responsible for revenue generation in your company.