Today’s Lesson: Experts are easy to spot if you know how to look.
We have been shopping for Stand-Up Paddleboards (SUP’s) lately. It is a lot like shopping for new cars. If you are not already an expert, you can be taken for a lot of money and you will feel lost in the jargon.
SUPs can be a fairly expensive venture, too, costing about five grand for a pair of decent boards, car mount, protective covers, paddles, fins, leashes, etc. Just choosing the right type for your needs is a big challenge. We have been taking our time, asking questions, reading reviews, learning the jargon, and even taking lessons.
What I have learned so far is there is a wide gap in knowledge between people who like to Stand-Up Paddleboard and people who know how to Stand-Up Paddleboard well. Everyone we have spoken to so far seemed knowledgeable and helpful, but then we came across an expert, and I realized I have seen this in other areas. If you have walked into a cell phone store, for example, it is easy to distinguish the people who are good at sales from the people who love technology and want you to be as excited about it as they are. Their passion comes through instantly and they want to show you why everything is so cool.
Good salespeople know the facts, prices, and talking points… until you stray away from what is printed on the label or box. They can not dive deep or offer advice–only choices. Passionate experts consider your questions, offer relevant options, and have an opinion and advice no matter what direction you head in the conversation. Most importantly, experts can not help but teach you along the way.
We talked to one salesperson who knew her stuff. She asked a few questions and guided us to a few boards she felt would work for us. Her sales process was spot on. She was really good. Salesperson number two was also quite good, able to assess our needs, offer a few choices, and asked for the money without pouring on the pressure. Very good. Then we came across Mike from Urban Kai.
Mike LOVES Stand-Up Paddleboarding. Within 30 minutes, we knew where this leisure sport began (Hawaii), how Polynesians typically use their paddles, why inflatables are not for us (which I was leaning heavily towards), how to use our hips to minimize effort while paddling, what indigenous fish we can spot in the area, and more.
This guy is clearly an expert. Mike’s passion is clear from the second you meet him. His excitement is contagious. He took us on the water and was so excited to teach, he grabbed a stranger passing by (twice) and showed them how to hold their paddle correctly.
In 30 minutes with Mike, we learned more than we had in nearly a month of research and shopping. Not surprisingly, we will be purchasing our new Paddleboards and accessories form Urban Kai.
This is not an ad for Urban Kai or Mike, by the way. I do not think he would even recognize us if we ran into him again. There is definitely a teachable moment here, though, if you are in sales, management, or leadership.
There is always room for people who are good, but finding people who are passionate about learning and becoming experts… those are the people who will take your business far. Customers will flock to those people like mice to a Pied Piper.
Seek out experts (or burgeoning experts) out. Pay what they are worth to you (they are worth as much as you can afford–if they are not worried about money or benefits then they are free to pursue passion). Teach them because knowledge is as important to them as money, reward them in clever ways (knowledge and time are great rewards), recognize their efforts, encourage them to share their knowledge, and watch them soar!
If you are not passionate about what your company does (or what you do), then probably don’t send this article to your boss. She might start looking for someone who is!