People will almost always defer to and draw their opinions from the expert. This is true even if the expert is completely wrong.
We like to adopt and follow the lead of “experts” because it’s easier. Someone has done the work of thinking for us and we are freed from this tedious and heavy burden. The lure of appealing to authority in our business decisions is similar to the lure of fast-food in our diet decisions: everything’s ready for us and it goes down easy. Even if it’s crap.
Why You Need to be an Expert
Simply having the appearance of authority increases the likelihood that prospects will trust you, believe you, comply with your requests and follow your lead. Isn’t this reason enough to become an expert?
The Shocking Experiment that Revealed the Power of Authorities
A famous experiment conducted at Yale University by psychologist Stanley Milgram asked ordinary people (we’ll refer them to the shockers) to shock ‘victims’ when the victim answered questions incorrectly. The shockers were instructed by people in white lab coats who gave the appearance of high authority. Little did they know that some of these authorities were just students.
The shockers were told that the shocks they administered increased by 15 volts in intensity every time the person answered incorrectly. Of course, as the experiment went on, the shocks did intensify. And the victims started to scream. Some victims even begged the shocker to stop. Some screamed that they couldn’t breath or that they had heart problems. But, the shockers continued on whenever the white lab coat “authorities” told them to do so. Incredibly, about two-thirds of the shockers ignored the cries of pain and inflicted the full dose of 450 volts.
The truth is the shocks were completely imaginary and the victims were acting. This did teach us a very valuable lesson:
The real culprit in the experiments was the [participants’] inability to defy the wishes of the boss, the lab-coated researcher who urged and, if necessary, directed them to perform their duties, despite the emotional and physical mayhem they were causing.
The lesson for anyone in sales or marketing: when people are unclear or uncertain, they’ll seek out “authorities” to help guide their decisions. Given the undeniable and powerful influence of authority figures, “it would be wise to incorporate testimonials from legitimate, recognized authorities to help persuade prospects to respond or make purchases”. Better yet, it’s about time that you made yourself an authority.
How to Become an Authority: You Should Already Be Doing it!
There’s too much evidence to ignore: becoming an authority is necessary to attract clients and will fill your pipeline with qualified people who want to your help. While becoming an expert is hard work, it shouldn’t be “another thing to do”. Rather, it should already be integrated into your daily work life. After all, it’s no secret that success only comes after significant effort and after gaining significant knowledge. Here are a few tips which, again, should be part of your routine and strategy to succeed:
- Don’t be afraid of learning. Take courses from legitimate bodies and get designations.
- Write for various publications relevant to your industry. The publications don’t have to pay you or be massive. They just have to be legitimate.
- Deliver excellent work, pay attention to the details and place knowledge and service over money.
- Speak at any events – small or large. And then have attendees write testimonials about your knowledge and put these testimonials on your website.
- Interview experts in your field and write articles about those expert’s opinions.
Taking on these tips will not only elevate your status, but it’ll also help you learn and boost your confidence. What is more, you’ll become the source of knowledge for your clients. No longer will you be sending “just following up!” emails. Your knowledge will be in demand and can be used as a legitimate reason to reach out to prospects and subtly remind them that you are the (ethical) expert.