Every industry is seeking a voice of innovation and the platinum standard of best practices that will provide insights for gaining advantage. As gaining advantage and MAINTAINING advantage has become harder because of the ease of gathering information and so much transparency, this effort has become intense. For sales people, gaining a reputation as the best source for best practices in your customer’s marketplace and the industry in general allows you to stay relevant and valuable, gaining you access and face to face time. Being the best source for best practices is a part of being the best sales person.
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1) Define your area of expertise – You have to become known as the answer person regarding a definable segment of your collective customers’ and prospects’ business issues. Choose a segment about which you are passionate and curious. One of my clients sells to big box stores. She became an expert in store layout psychology and its impact on purchasing patterns. This gained her lots of access because it was valuable to her clients. 
2) Stay current – Being current is not hard if you leverage technology. The internet and available tools will scour data and present it back to you regularly, giving you insights on trends, changes, regulations and technologies. It’s your responsibility to keep up by making it a regular part of your weekly work. 
3) Implications trump data – Just knowing the data makes you annoying if you can’t translate the data into actionable recommendations. By mapping data to implications you become conversationally more relevant and valuable to buyers, which means you get more attention and access. 
I believe becoming an expert on best practices is a major differentiator of the best sales people today. 
Our friends at the RAIN Group recently posed the question: “What are the winners of actual sales opportunities doing differently than sellers who come in second place?” They have presented their findings in a new book, Insight Selling: Surprising Research on What Sales Winners Do Differently, where bestselling authors Mike Schultz and John Doerr teach you exactly how sellers do it. Mike and John share the results of their research and introduce a three-level framework that will help you inspire buyers, influence agendas, maximize value, and use insight to win more sales. If you buy the book this week, you will receive bonus materials, including “What It Takes to Succeed in Sales Today,” an exclusive expert interview series featuring myself, as well as international marketing and sales experts Jill Konrath, Charlie Green, John Jantsch, Mark Roberge, and Andrew Sobel.
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