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What are Subject Matter Experts and Why Do They Matter?

by Kat O'Brien | March 23, 2017

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We are a society that uses acronyms and the business world is no different. Keeping track of which buzz words are trending and how they impact small businesses is a continuous process. For instance, we’ve all probably heard, or even used, the acronym SME. SME stands for Subject Matter Expert and these people are the new trend in town. But what is a subject matter expert anyway and why are they becoming so popular in business today? According to The Balance, a subject matter expert is “an individual with a deep understanding of a particular process, function, technology, machine, material or type of equipment.” Often subject matter experts are people who either have degrees, experience and/or certifications in a particular field. This definition is broad. Lawyers, computer engineers and social media experts could all be considered subject matter experts. In a Forbes article about upcoming trends in 2017, contributor Ian Altman predicted that “subject matter experts will become the new rainmakers.”

This is because subject matter experts are typically more sought after by customers because people want to feel that they are being helped by someone who really knows what they are talking about. When you are doing business with someone who has real knowledge of a specific industry, area, process or all of the above, it is very reassuring.

Altman discusses the role that SMEs play in “integrity-based sales”. This kind of selling is different than what a traditional salesperson might do. While a great salesperson may know all the prices, potential discounts and talking points, an SME has the knowledge to provide insight along with more traditional sales techniques. Think about you and your business. As a business owner, you likely have expertise that the general public may not possess. What kind of knowledge can you provide to your customer in addition to what your business already provides in a sale? Do you have any degrees, certifications or experiences that could make you a subject matter expert? Think about your expertise and your current sales process. Think about what you could add to your customer’s experience.

Being an SME can expand past just the sales process. For example, your knowledge could be turned into valuable content for your customers. Does your business have a newsletter? Does your business post on social media? Think about how you could integrate your knowledge into not just your sales process, but also your marketing. If you think you could be considered a subject matter expert or if you would like to become one through continued education, think about how your knowledge could benefit your customers and their experience with your business.

 

Sources:

  1. Understanding the Role and Purpose of the Subject Matter Expert
  2. Top 10 Business Trends That Will Drive Success in 2017

 

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