“Being an expert does not require a title; having a title does not make you one”
In every sector of our economy you will find a host of experts that form the commercial order, that in turn drive the wheels of industry.
When you buy a car, you would expect that the sales person carries a driver’s permit. A yoga instructor might give you peace of mind, offer you a warm hug, but is he or she qualified enough to be coaching you on employment law or advanced marketing strategies?
CBC’s the DOC ZONE aired an excellent program on the subject of Experts, Coaches & Sales Executives.
The documentary is insightful and eye-opening.
Thought provoking issues were introduced; some of the questions that presented themselves included:******
Who crowned these business archetypes with their exalted titles?
How do you really know who is credible and who is not?
What steps can you take and what methods can you employ to choose the expert or sales support you need? ********
I assembled a host of professional advisers and conducted face to face interviews. There is a great deal of information on this subject. I gathered together some of the most well known books, articles, and on-line programs to assist you in finding the best for your operation.
All the information provided is referenced and linked for your convenience. You should find these resources very functional and practical.
THE PROCESS & THE PLAN –
FINDING THE BEST EXPERT FOR YOUR PROJECT:
You want the right person for the job. When you begin the selection process, everything that I came across suggested you adopt an investigative approach. Adopting this attitude and holding firm will help you avoid those situations where you’re own natural defenses are compromised. There are experts that count on you to be distracted just long enough and use a masterful strategy in order to “seal the deal”.
Avoid the shock “little red riding hood” faced.
Do your homework.
Most of all “beware of wolves in disguise!”
CREDENTIALS & EDUCATION:
Depending on where you live in Canada, aesthetic professionals, massage therapists etc., all carry some kind of professional designation or accredited educational title, diploma or provincial license, but are not necessarily governed by an independent body.
If your expert or coach holds a professional license or belongs to a professional association ascertain some information about their governing body. Review the “code of conduct” that applies to the candidate’s membership. Membership is a privilege and it comes with a responsibility.
Confirm the credentials belonging to the expert are authentic and applicable.
Validate these credentials by directly contacting the University, College or School.
Ask the expert to provide his or her own references, insist on seeing a resume or a copy of their most recent curriculum virtae.
Compare the educational documentation against the consulting work you are pursuing.***
All the research suggests you obtain a minimum of 3 quotations before you enter into a binding agreement. I spoke to advisors that adopt a forensic approach when they want the best and want to weed out the worst.
Ask the expert to provide 6 references. Next, it is recommended that you randomly pick out three of the proposals first. Apply this method as a standard prerequisite prior to any face to face interviews.
Always cross reference the candidates in terms of their experience and references. *********
(Check out Mike Holmes, www.makeitright.ca for quote guidelines that apply to even the most basic projects)
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you really know”. *
THE SALES EXECUTIVE:
Examine their portfolio.
Find out about their sales and support team. Who do they surround themselves with?
How does the team appear to you? (If the international sales director or expert’s “business costume” or their general mood is in stark contrast with the rest of her team, this could be a sign that the leader conducts his or her operation using a micromanagement approach. ( Perhaps you were told the team is happy and yet the physical observations are in direct conflict to these rumours. )
Ask detailed questions about the product and get a written response. (If the response seems to have changed or the individual is behaving in a different manner or is coming across as less authentic than when you met them originally, you might want to move along.)
If the team leader, or director of sales appears and acts impeccably yet her team seems to be lost, unable to provide basic information or seems to always avoid conversation about your contract or file, this is a clear sign of poor management practices or manipulation tactics.*
Gauge where the sales executive leads you in conversation. (Often a salesperson will claim to be an expert about the product they are selling and yet they have less education than you).
Be on guard when the sales representative repeatedly reminds you that “the buck stops here” or that their company is “independent” and they are the boss. This may be a clue you are dealing with an unorganized company or a narcissistic individual.*
Another clue that things may not be going so well is when the sales director discourages you from or forbids you from speaking to the actual owner(s).
Examine their business card and the letterhead. For example the company might have an office in “Anjour”, Quebec but the people pulling the levers, making all the profits and making all the decisions are in “Remie”, France.
GENERAL WARNING SIGNS:
When choosing an expert normally the most conservatively dressed and well balanced are your best bet.******
Therefore, dismiss the urge to be drawn towards those glossy images. Avoid being swayed by those eye lifts, perfect hair, “bling”, pointy shoes, shoulder pads and fancy dresses.******
Watch out for tenacious forms of attention, such as repeated handshakes, insistent hugs and too much enthusiasm. Be aware of your own instincts. Observe their body language and listen to your own body.*******
(Check out the Nature of Things- “Body Language Decoded”, on CBC hosted by David Suzuki and learn how to read faces”)
BE ON GUARD IF…
The individual talks about themselves in great detail and yet fails to ask you enough questions about your business and your own achievements.
The expert or sales person displays a significant or imposing manner or appears to be overbearing, this could also be a sign you are being “hoodwinked.”*
The expert is dismissive or slow to provide written information or references.
The expert is very secretive or they immediately become defensive or dismissive when you ask direct questions.
The expert dazzles you with compliments and yet behaves differently when you ask them for evidence to support the claims they have made.
The expert seems to be “busy” all the time, always on the phone or in a meeting or running too and fro.
You find yourself having conversations with these archetypes as they walk away from you, or
You find yourself chasing them in order to get their eye contact; this is a clear signal that something is not quite in order.
DOES THE EXPERT…
Listen to you and do they echo your concerns? If not, this is a very negative sign.
Repeats the same message over and over again?
Have a solid relationship with their distributors? (Making a few calls to these major distribution centers is an excellent way to see how your expert or your suppliers handles business relationships.)
Display signs of anxiety when you insist on speaking to these other contacts.
BY-LAWS & HEALTH SAFETY CONCERNS
If we have to follow the law, so should the expert that is giving you advice.
For example; lets say a sales director, who also claims to be an authority in the field of microbiology makes the statement :
“When you use our product “double dipping” is now perfectly acceptable.”
This kind of statement carries a dangerous message and it flies in the face of the medical community and most municipal laws and provincial laws.
Many companies are completely unregulated or they are marketed and manufactured outside of Canada and therefore do not follow Canadian health standards. Do your homework and make sure you an satisfy your local authorities.
Beware of claims that seem exaggerated. All products and procedures come with a degree of liability. Care Custody and Control come part and parcel with every service we provide including cross contamination exposure to the public at large.
There are three groups of concern; Bacterial, Fungal and Viral, all of which require individual attention to avoid a lawsuit or a fine.
Before you allow the coach to address a team in crisis, make sure you possess credible information so you are secure in knowing that the coach has handled large complex issues.***
If the coach takes too much time to respond to a conflict you should re-evaluate the situation before you invest any more time or money with the individual .***
If the coach insists you need not worry or avoids sending you written updates to gauge the development of the project, it may be time to bring in another advisor.
Avoid getting caught up in Social Media trends.
Coaches love to use “Buzz Words” yet this type of wide birth form of ideology may have very little to do with the real process of your project or your profits.******
Read all the information you can. Look at what the expert has posted on their Linkedin account. Articles containing more pictures than words is sign of concern depending on the project at hand.
The end result is your success, your happiness, and knowing that you are creating something lasting and pleasing. Your work is important, the investments you make not only effects the lives of other people but adds to the general wellbeing of your life and your community.
When you are choosing an expert or coach, or your about to buy something expensive, listen to your body, follow your instincts, make your notes and look over all the results of your labours.
If you employ an investigative and a forensic approach you can avoid problems, this way you will not require the services of the woodsman to rescue you from the wolf that was hiding in
grandmothers house !
“Seek the helpers, just as they seek out you’re help in return.” (P.M.Bell)
Written by: Douglas Alexander Coburn AIIC (CIP) RAC Hon. cert., BSc.Pod
(RITMA Province of Québec; NATUROPATH & PODOLOQUE, RIBO Level II (ret)
Thanks to so many others that made this article possible; my alumni and networking groups for their input and assistance including:
The Montréal Small Business Network Group
The Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, Carleton University, NASP & I Spa USA.
Layout Designing and Pre Edited by: Mr. Kelsey Cooper of Victoria British Columbia and the Staff of Spa Canada & Spa Québec, and the Atlantic Insurance Brokers Magazine. Partners Publishing Ltd. Fredricton, New Brunswick Canada.
EDITING by: Miss Phyllis Mary Bell, Teacher (Retired but more active than ever !)