Expert Advice

Five Fast Ways to Boost Your Sales Expertise

Google the definition of “expertise,” and you’ll find all sorts of references to special skills or knowledge. But I only found one online dictionary that defines “expertise” the same way I do. BusinessDictionary.com states that the term describes the “basis of credibility of a person who is perceived to be knowledgeable in an area or topic due to his or her study, training or experience in the subject matter.” 


The emphasis on “credibility” is mine. Why? Because credibility equates to expertise almost every time. Consider that having credibility enables you to do each of the following: 


• Persuade people more easily, showing them new ways of thinking and allowing your expertise to help buyers make up their minds between that Softail Fat Boy and the Breakout.


• Influence more people both directly and indirectly, generating a naturally positive effect and demonstrating your expertise when, say, explaining safe riding behavior and maintenance tips to first-time buyers. 


• Reduce conflict, allowing your track record to speak for itself and proving you’re a top-notch professional. Which means that when it comes to waxing wise (and perhaps even philosophical) about such motorcycle related hot-button issues as helmet laws and loud pipes, your expertise allows your voice to inform, educate and prevail. 


Note how expertise levels in a motorcycle dealership can fall into multiple categories, leaving room for certain employees to step in and fill observed voids. Regardless of whether you’re plugging a knowledge gap within your store or expanding your own knowledge base to meet sales goals, you can quickly achieve a level of expertise by engaging in one, some or all of the following five activities on a regular basis: 


1. Read (and reread) literature for the products you sell. Build time into your busy schedule to do this, and you’ll quickly become the most knowledgeable salesperson on the floor. 


An overlooked Latin phrase, Repetitio mater studiorum est, translates to: Repetition is the mother of all learning. And that statement still holds true today. Study what you sell. Learn as much as you can about the inside and outside of motorcycles and other products. Quiz yourself. Better yet, challenge your colleagues to prove you know more than they do. 


Another way to increase knowledge of what you sell is to read trade publications like Motorcycle & Powersports News (which, obviously, you’re already doing) and consumer magazines, particularly Motorcycle Consumer News. 


Considered the Consumer Reports of the powersports world where MCN independently tests and rates bikes and products, and then verifies the true measure of performance for every machine it tests. That’s a lot of expertise right there, but the real gems are the letters from readers. Be sure to check those out, too. Then, the next time a new rider begins a conversation with the words, “What can you tell me about …?” you can reply confidently: “I can tell you lots of things about … ”


2. Subscribe to Email Alerts and other similar services. The trend appears to be shifting away from Google Alerts — a recent redesign rubbed some users the wrong way, plus lots of people just don’t like Google these days — and toward such crisp alternatives as Mention (mention.com) and Talkwalker (talkwalker.com). But regardless of what alert services you use, they allow you to — in real time, or on a daily or weekly basis — track news about the brands you carry, find out what your competitors are doing, read blogs covering industry events and developments, and learn more about any other topic you think will help boost your expertise.


I have alerts set up for, among other things, “persuasion,” which allows me to further my expertise in the art of professional persuasion even as I’m writing a book about that specific topic. 


You might, for example, want to set up alerts for “helmet laws” or “motorcycle sales.” Be too broad, and you’ll become frustrated with the vast amount of results. But be too narrow, and you won’t receive any results. 


3. Understand, and not just know, what you sell. Ride the bikes on your showroom floor. Try on new helmets. Understand how specific aftermarket products work and why your customers might be interested in purchasing them. Doing these things will give you a greater knowledge of what you sell — and why you sell them — leading you to a deeper understanding of the reasons people want to buy them. 


Maybe you’ve never stopped to consider why a lawyer who rides to the county courthouse on a regular basis might prefer saddlebags instead of a luggage rack for his briefcase. Well, now’s your chance to do just that. Strap one of each onto your bike for test rides and see which option works better. Then leverage your newfound observations when working with customers that commute. Open-mindedness is one significant stop on the road to expertise.


4. Present both sides of a discussion, and then take a position. Speaking of being open-minded, come up with lists of three pros and three cons for particular options facing your buyer. 


For example, here’s how to approach the situation if one of your customers is considering a radical (arguably too radical) custom paint job: “That fire-engine red with all-over neon blue, yellow and orange flames and fringe handgrips certainly would be one-of-a-kind and draw some attention to you and your bike. It also would set you apart from every other rider on the road.


But will you really dig that design scheme two or three years from now? And what might it do to the bike’s resale value? Those colors could be a distraction to other motorists, too, increasing the risk of an accident. Personally, I would tone down the paint job just a tad.” 


You’ve stated what you consider to be the facts and shared your expertise. If your customer still decides to desecrate his new motorcycle with an ill-conceived design, you have done what you can. 


5. Talk to your techs and existing customers. Find out what works and what doesn’t. You’ve never ridden a Goldwing across the country in August and don’t know how it holds up on long journeys in heat and humidity? Find someone who has and ask him to share a story or two. Then file it away for use with a future Goldwing prospect. 


Not sure about the details of the latest product recall? Ask your favorite tech in the shop to give you a crash course about the problem, the remedy and how future models will avoid similar recalls. Share that info with your colleagues and customers. 


Before you know it, your expertise will expand. So will the circle of buyers and buddies who turn to you for the answers and solutions they don’t have. That’s high-value credibility burnished with pure expertise. 

An award-winning author, top-rated trainer and founder of Peak Dealership Performance, Mark Rodgers holds a master’s degree in adult education and the National Speakers Association Certified Speaking Professional designation. Email [email protected] to improve your performance. 

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