A subject matter expert, or SME, is a person who is an authority in a particular area or topic (Wikipedia). A SME’s responsibility in a managed services sale is to fully vet a qualified lead, and close the opportunity by educating the prospect on why managed services is a critical need for the prospect’s company. It’s impossible to be in expert for every lead’s vertical, but it shouldn’t stop you from trying.
A great SME should create a vertical sales repository they can go back to reference, add notes to, and use to build their experience. This will make them more knowledgeable in their prospect’s field, increase their credibility and position them as a true technology advisor.
As a SME in technology, you have to be knowledgeable in IT. Seems pretty straightforward, right? It can be if you are prepared and have the material needed to give you credibility. So what do I mean by that? Let me paint you picture of 2 different managed services SMEs who are working to close the same prospect:
You are a SME for managed services, and you have an upcoming appointment with a dental office as a prospect. You have some knowledge of the dental industry, but no real experience.
You prepare the same set of questions you typically do for any managed services sale, and head to the appointment with your new prospect. You meet with the office manager and start probing them on their business.
You gain good information that allows you to put together a solution that meets all 5 prerequisites of a managed services sale.
You first call your own dentist to learn more about their business in preparation. From this discussion, you have a general idea of pain points and processes a dentist office needs to run efficiently. In addition, you research the dental office to determine their company mission, culture and history. You document all of this information and store it for your records going forward. You use this knowledge and experience to help advance your conversations with your new prospect. You go on the appointment with the new prospect, and meet with the office manager. While at the appointment, you start probing them with more questions, but this time it is positioned differently.
You gain great information that allows you to put together a solution that meets all 5 prerequisites of a managed services sale, BUT you also gained credibility with the new prospect that you are an expert in their industry. You are headed in the right direction to becoming their trusted technology advisor.
(Hint: SME 2!) One of the keys to SME 2’s success closing the managed services sale is using a vertical sales repository. SME 2 has a vertical sales repository, that now includes the dental industry, that they can continue to build on and reference when they have managed services opportunities. Continue using your vertical sales repository for every one of your managed services appointment, and before you know it, you will have a knowledge base for dozens of different verticals. Start enhancing your credibility by building your vertical sales repository today.
Hannah Erb, Director of Sales, is responsible for building the strategic vision for sales and marketing while providing business planning, education, training, and sales assistance to partners. She is also responsible for originating new partnerships for Collabrance. She was recognized as one of 2019's Women of the Channel by CRN, a brand of The Channel Company. Hannah started at Collabrance in 2013 as a Strategic Business Advisor. In 2014, Hannah was nominated by her peers and won Rookie of the Year, and in 2015 became a member of the 100% Sales Achievement Club at GreatAmerica. Hannah earned her business degree in Marketing and Management Information Systems from the University of Iowa.