How to Sell Your Expertise to Powerful People

Do you ever have to sell yourself or your ideas to someone in power?

It can be intimidating.

I recently had a conversation with Dr. Chip Bell, the world-renowned authority on customer loyalty and innovative service. Bell is North America’s #1 keynote speaker on customer service and he works with CEOs in the world’s largest companies. He’s wildly successful at getting powerful people to adopt his innovative ideas.

I’m also fortunate to say he’s been a mentor of mine for fifteen years. I asked him the secret of success to working with CEOs. His advice (below) applies to anyone trying to sell their ideas or expertise:

1. Be wealthy and wise
Bell says, when you’re talking with powerful people, you need to get yourself in the headspace that you are wealthy, you’re not scrounging for a deal. You’re also wise; you have something to offer. The space you have to come from is, I know what I talking about, and not be intimidated by the fact that this person makes $20 million a year. You need to believe, I know more about my topic than this person is likely to know.

2. Come from a place of love
For Bell, no matter what level the person, you need to see this is “your spiritual brother or sister,” He says, when you think that way you are coming from a very different place; it takes you into the realm of love. There’s an unconditional quality to it. Therefore I don’t want to be judgmental. I don’t want to prove I’m smarter than you. That messes up the relationship. You are seeking to help this CEO or senior leader be the best they can be.

3. Create real rapport
Many people try to force rapport, what they’re really trying to do is be liked.  Bell says, “Rapport is a cool word, it comes from an old French word that means kinship, the literal meaning is how do you bring kinship.” Trying to be liked is about you. Instead, Bell suggests, “The question is, how do I get all the dark images out of the room? This is all about joy and about light. It should be a fun trip.”

4. Risk being honest
If you want your client to take risks and make changes, you have a role in the partnership. Bell suggests if your client is going to take the risk, you both need to be taking risks, and the way you take a risk is by saying, I am going to be totally honest with you and totally real. Bell points out, “Learning is a door that only opens from the inside. I want to guide them to a place of discovery, I may have wisdom, but the first charge is to get them to open the door.”

5.Start with turn on
People often choose their areas of expertise based on what looks good on a resume or pays well. Bell says the first criterion should be: What turns you on? Then the second criterion is: Can you make a living at it? The third criterion is: Will it really differentiate you? The only way you can discover that is to read and keep learning. Bell says, you’ll change over time and so will the market.

I’ve watched Dr. Chip Bell change and grow for over a decade, he’s the real deal. His advice will make you more relevant and successful, and you’ll also have more fun.