Experts, Expertise and Engagement!

Posted on 20th November 2021

We all need experts. Experts need experts.

It’s interesting to see how experts engage experts. Lawyers need accountants, entrepreneurs need, marketing experts, management consultants and so on.

Recently a client shared a story about her difficulties struggling to find an expert and her rather interesting experiences in her search. Her experience showed some interesting experiences and case studies.

1.     The Bulldozer Expert

The expert with a clear sense of their expertise area and the deficiencies that need to be resolved. This expert may not necessarily wait for the invitation to engage but will quickly set out their unsolicited observations about what they perceive as numerous deficiencies, and areas for improvement and compare these shortcomings with their well-developed skills in this area. They consciously or unconsciously seek to bulldoze or shame a client into engaging their services. They will reference their expertise and ‘expert’ status with relish. Unsurprisingly they leave a somewhat sour taste of irritation, inadequacy, and an unwillingness to engage.

2.     The Sugar Coater

The expert with the lovely manner. The key characteristic is a refusal to offend. They will introduce their services with the right protocols and work very flexibly to meet clients’ needs. Unfortunately, their concentration is too focused on their presentation and not getting into the nuts and bolts of the issues of the prospective client. This can make them come across as bland and reduce confidence in their expertise. It may be initially pleasing to have a positive introductory meeting, but if their services are engaged it can become frustrating.  Their work can feel very one dimensional and superficial.

3.     The Miracle Worker

The miracle worker expert thinks all problems can be resolved by ‘belief’. That is the belief that his/her expertise and solution is the only answer to your problem. Their confidence is initially fantastic, it inspires confidence, but eventually, they can sound like a cult leader. They may lack in depth and up to date knowledge because they’ve been too busy shining their own halo. They may have a naturally charismatic nature and rely on this. They may also try to diminish you, their competition and elevate themselves to get you to sign. Unfortunately, this can backfire as feeling ‘cornered’ is not the best way to start a business relationship.

4.     The Desirable Undesirable

The most complex of experts has a lovely introductory meeting, they have the expertise and experience and are a great asset. It’s usually easy to sign up a DU.  The problem comes when there is an unforeseen or planned change. This tends to bring out fear and a host of undesirable behaviours including hostility and a rapid toxicity. This may be because this expert works best on known terrain and may be resistant to change or feedback. Unfortunately, it can create difficulties as the change can create distrust on both sides and can lead to a relationship breakdown.

5.   The Avoider

The avoider is the expert that provides all the information in very general terms but evades specific questioning. The outline tends to be the best they have to offer in terms of an invitation to engage their services. They actively discourage too many questions. Ironically, they may also have sign up processes that make it difficult to decline their services. Indeed, the simple presentation of their service offer can be a very straightforward proposition to many.  Their signup process tends to be linear and closed and focused on providing as little information as possible. For some low-risk services, this may work, but in other situations, this can lead to confusion and if one is not careful a breakdown in trust. This tends to happen in ongoing situations where information or support is needed outside the norm.

6.     The Balancer

This expert has an array of tools which can be used for different clients.  They tend to give generous pre sign recommendations and tips and only after seeking your permission to do so. They tend to have very good insights and can provide a balanced expert perspective. The striking aspect of dealing with a balancer is that they leave you with enough information and time to think and there appears to be an absence of manipulation in their engagement process.  This can create trust and good long-term relationships. The downside of the balancer is that they may not appeal to those that like to make decisions quickly. They’re so intentional about leaving space to think and tailoring services that they may appear to offer too much choice.

Now, in the real world, there are a mixture of approaches but very often there is a dominant pattern. From a service providers point of view, there is no room for complacency, it’s good practice to  regularly review your sales funnel and client engagement process.

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