Once you are known as the expert in your field of sales there are other benefits in addition to having customers actively seeking you out and having an easier time closing business.
A good friend of mine called Michele sells computer software to fortune 500 companies. Michele allows her sarcastic, dark humour and love of extreme sports to trickle into every conversation. She’s known both as an expert in the software space as well as a motocross riding nutter who will do anything to support her customers.
I grabbed a coffee with her last week to have a catch up and I asked her what she thought the side benefits of being well known as a sales person in her industry were – Her reply shocked me.
The benefits of becoming a sales expert
“Money. I’m now seen as a rock star.” she said, eyes wide open with a grin growing across her face.
Expecting a deeper and more in depth reply I quizzed her on this further, “More of it? Closing more deals so more commission? Better base salary?” I shot back.
“Money from sales managers fighting over me” she whispered as she peered down into her coffee. The funny thing was she wasn’t being sarcastic this time.
Michelle gets head hunted every 18 months by whoever is the new up and coming brand in CRM software with venture capital money to burn. However she hasn’t moved companies in the past 6 years. Each time she gets approached she just goes to her sales manager, explains the situation and asks them to double her basic salary. Her sales manager is that scared that all of her customers will follow Michelle to whatever company she moves to that they can’t let her go. Even if that means paying way over the going rate in both salary and commissions (which pales into insignificance when you look at the money regularly brings into the company) year on year.
Michelle went on to explain that she’s also treated differently in the company because of her personal branding as an expert in her field.
“I’m treated more like management now, if there any non-programming, practical usage questions about our software from anywhere within our company, they usually end up in my inbox”.
“Plus because I have a pretty big following on twitter, I have my feelers in most of our competitors through my conversations on there. I know about their updates and new features before their sales teams do most of the time.”
Other benefits of being the leading expert in your industry include more respect from customers during your daily interactions, invitations to industry events that would otherwise be above your pay grade and an opportunities to progress within your own company.
Taking the leap into sales management has been the historical next step for salesmen who want to earn more money and have more responsibility. It could be that becoming known as an industry expert is now a viable alternative to this move.