Become a Must-Have Expert Everyone Wants to Work With

There are two assessments buyers make that can put you into nice-to-have status. First comparison: our insights vs. what they already know. I call this the invisible Vulcan mind meld. Decision makers invest in what they don’t already have. So the question buyers ask themselves is do you know something they don’t?

Must-have experts show the market that they have something not readily available. Many talented, nice-to-have folks focus on the clever title or analogy. Buyers see right through that. They are looking at the insight, the point you are making. The analogy, the story, and the cleverness make your point come alive. If your writing is better than your insights, you are a nice read but not worth reaching out to. If you give a speech and hear, “Hey, nice reminder of what I already knew,” you failed the invisible Vulcan mind meld and are in the nice-to-have category.

After passing that test, buyers make a second comparison: your high-end services vs. information they don’t have but can easily get from you. The second bias—all things being “good enough,” the low-cost or free route will prevail. Notice what I didn’t say: equal. Even if you are better than the free resources you provide, even when prospects have a budget, buyers want to make sure they are getting the best option for their money. So another question they ask is can they get your insights from other free sources such as your book or white papers on your website? Is that “good enough” help for them?

This economy has created a lot of free and low-cost education. And it’s good stuff. A must-have expert provides high-quality content but always leaves the impression that “there’s more where that came from.” My favorite example of this strategy is Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics. His way of thinking appeals to so many situations that folks can’t get enough of him. And yet everyone knows that if they want their situation examined, they have to pay him his fees.