What Makes Someone an Authority in Today's Market?
What makes someone an authority in today's competitive market? It's a combination of knowing your field as well as sharing knowledge with others — and writing a book is a key way to do that.
a person falsely claiming to have a special knowledge or skill; a fraud.
one whose views on a subject are taken to be authoritative and influential.
While sales is often a lucrative and fulfilling career, it most definitely comes with its share of challenges. It’s no secret that the general public can view salespeople in a negative light. The word charlatan is a nicer way of saying “quack” — which is how many people unfairly view a salesperson. Meanwhile, other professionals — doctors, nurses, engineers — are given credibility in society right away, with many viewed as thought leaders or authorities in their fields.
In fact, according to a 2019 Gallup Poll, these three professions are ranked at the top in trustworthiness, whereas car salespeople are ranked at the bottom. It’s no secret that most people would consider a doctor or engineer to be a thought leader over someone working in sales.
However, if you have a career in sales, you can still overcome the preconceived notions of the public by giving yourself an “edge” in the market and positioning yourself as an authority, rather than simply another salesperson trying to make a buck. There are a few different ways to accomplish this, but it boils down to the following two main ideas:
- Educate yourself as much as possible.
- Share your knowledge with others in theory and practice.
What does it mean to educate yourself? Put simply, being educated means reading informative material and learning everything you can about your particular field. If you’re a real estate agent, you likely have already done a good bit of this — you’ve passed the courses for your license, and you regularly keep up with what’s going on in local and national markets. You probably know a good bit about real estate law, escrow, closing procedures and everything else that a smooth real estate transaction entails.
Likewise, if you work in another sales field, such as auto insurance, you probably have knowledge of the insurance laws in your area, what your competition is offering and other particulars. Having a thorough arsenal of knowledge is key for converting more sales; “glossing over” a topic will not help you at all. When people decide whether they want to work with you, they will undoubtedly ask questions, and you will need to be able to answer them.
So how can you ensure that you have the right amount of knowledge? Here are our suggestions for staying on top of your field.
Read books and magazines on topics relevant to your field.
Have you picked up a book or magazine about your field lately? If not, do it right now. Information is a two-way street, and if you’re going to work with the public based on your knowledge, you also need to keep learning when possible.
Keep up with relevant trends, news, etc. online.
Part of your daily routine should be reading relevant news online. From stats to trends that pertain to your business, don’t get caught not knowing what the “big scoop” is.
Know what others in your field or sphere are saying.
Other experts and important figures in your field should be on your radar, and you should always know what they have to say. Don’t ever make the mistake of being an island.
Now, for the second point. What does it mean to share your knowledge with others in theory and practice?
First, sharing in practice simply means shepherding a successful transaction with your clients, in whatever sales field you happen to be in. This is likely the kind of “knowledge sharing” that you’re used to — but it’s important to note that being able to share your knowledge in theory is a great way to get new clients in the door so you can also share in practice.
Here are a few ways to share knowledge in theory:
Publish a regular newsletter, blog or other informative source online or in print.
Are you blogging or posting to social media about your field? Are you sending out print or email news? This is a great way to earn new clients even before you work on a transaction with them.
Present information in workshops or other venues.
If you speak out loud at a chamber of commerce event or invite others to a class, workshop, etc then you are sharing your knowledge and earning respect.
Write and publish a book.
Most experts and thought leaders have written at least one book, and this is one of the best ways to have others look up to you as a knowledge source. If you’re in sales, a book can take you from “just another salesperson” to someone who has all the information a potential client might need.
Why Having a Book Enhances Your Position as an Authority
Yes, sharing knowledge is one of the keys to becoming an authority. But sometimes, what we know gets “lost in translation” when we try to explain it to someone else. Anyone who has sat through a college lecture — or any kind of presentation — can probably vouch for this. People aren’t perfect at talking, and they also aren’t perfect at listening. It’s great to have something in printed format, and it is even better if that format is a book, since brochures, magazines and other printed materials aren’t always salvaged the same way a book is.
Books are particularly useful for establishing yourself as an authority in your field. Unlike other methods of sharing knowledge, books are timeless and easy to refer back to.
Here is a breakdown of reasons that books are preferable to other methods of sharing knowledge with others:
A book negates note-taking.
Trying to remember everything someone says to you is difficult. Sure, you could take out a piece of paper and a pen and write it all down (or type it), but even then, you’re bound to miss a thing or two. A book means any information you want to share with prospective clients — or that you offer in a class, workshop or presentation — is in one convenient place, making it simple for anyone who reads your book to have all your knowledge at their fingertips.
People can come back to a book when they’re ready.
Have you ever forced yourself to attend a class or event when you were a little bit tired, grumpy or just not “on top of your game?” Have you ever come back to something later and enjoyed it much more? A book works the same way for your prospective clients. Having your book at their disposal means they can return to it when they’re feeling ready to learn.
A book represents a larger amount of knowledge and resources.
When it comes to making an impression on people, there’s nothing like a book. In fact, according to a 2019 study done by the Pew Research Center, “print books remain the most popular format for reading, with 65 percent of adults saying they had read a print book in the year before the survey.”
There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that a book takes work. Not only does it require more money to print a full-length book (more than a postcard or pamphlet, and certainly more than any kind of digital medium) it also requires more knowledge to fill a book than it does to craft an email or newsletter. A book represents resources, both financial and intellectual.
People keep books or pass them on to others.
A book has a lifespan unlike other print media. There’s a reason people collect rare books, have bookcases piled with their favorite stories and pass down books to family and friends. When a person receives a book, they view it as something valuable. Even in the case that they don’t need it for themselves, people don’t throw a book away — they pass them to someone else who will find it useful.
Books aren’t just for writers.
What do the following business people, celebrities, musicians, politicians, athletes and spiritual leaders have in common?
- Michelle Obama
- Joel Osteen
- Gary Vaynerchuk
- Patti Smith
- Andre Agassi
- Demi Moore
- Gary Keller
If you guessed they’ve all written a book, you would be correct! A book is something that all kinds of people want on their list of accomplishments - not just novelists, poets and writers. As a salesperson, having a book is a good way to show the world that you aren’t all about the bottom line; you also care about the theory behind a sale and teaching those theories.
Furthermore, many well-known sales books stay in cultural consciousness. Think about “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie or “How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling” by Frank Bettger. These books are widely respected because they deal with everyone’s dream: finding success as an entrepreneur and not working for anyone else.
If you have a book, you’ll rise through the ranks and become more than a salesperson - you’ll become a knowledgeable entrepreneur.