Do I take John from I.T., or not? A variation on this question will be asked thousands of times today by sales leaders as they consider who should be in the upcoming call or meeting with a prospect. The sales leader knows he or she needs the expertise, insight and details the person brings…but…they are a little worried about what the SME might say.  No doubt, there is reason. Some past experience externally or internally tells the leader that John might do or say the wrong thing.
You have to take your SMEs, so perish the thought of working around them.
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Here’s what to do to get the most out of their participation:

  • Do not have them sell – SMEs are good at solving problems and understanding details. Tell them that is the role, not selling, and they will be more willing to come and relaxed in the session.
  • Structure – Provide a structure for each SME that is specific to the meeting. I use the model of 3 points, 3 questions, 3 props. No more than 3 for each of these categories is how I prepare an SME. Easy to remember and easy to rehearse.
  • Preparation – SMEs can wing it in their environment of day-to-day work, but probably not in yours of selling. So don’t ask them to wing it. Rehearsal is for them; don’t use yourself as the standard. Take the time to get them ready to do well.
  • Direction – I encourage that you have the SME focus on one person with whom to connect from the prospect’s or customer’s side in the meeting. This is not the exclusion of everyone else, but it provides a point of concentration when presenting. That person is most often selected because they are subject relevant peers.

Complex sales mean SMEs in the collaborative discussion. Prep them to win and you can relax a little.

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