Sales Enablement: The Difference Between Experience and Expertise

March 13, 2017 | PJ Carter
Sales Enablement: The Difference Between Experience and Expertise

You’re hiring a new salesperson and you’ve narrowed it down to two candidates:

  • Candidate A: 20 years of sales experience and a solid record of meeting quota.
  • Candidate B: 10 years of sales experience, broke sales records at several companies, wrote a well-regarded sales book and regularly speaks at sales conferences.

Who would you pick?

If you chose Candidate A, you likely have a penchant for experience. If you chose Candidate B, you probably value expertise. I’d be willing to bet that more people will choose Candidate B, because in sales, success is measured in revenue.

While watching sales expert Jim Keenan explain the difference between experience and expertise, I realized that sales enablement technology exists to bridge this gap. To understand why, we need to first understand the difference between experience and expertise. 

Experience vs. Expertise

There’s a major difference between sales experience and expertise, as Keenan recently explained:

“For every person that has 20 years of experience, 50% have 10 years of expertise attached to that experience. Experience marks time. I don’t care about experience. Ask yourself ‘What’s my level of expertise?’ The depth of knowledge you bring to the table that allows you to change the game, that’s expertise. I have one year of experience, I can’t make that go any faster and I can’t make it go any slower. But what I accomplish in that one year, how much expertise that I can absorb in one year, that I can control… I want to be the guy with five years of experience and 20 years of expertise.”

Watch Keenan’s video: Experience vs Expertise (There is a difference).

While we can’t control time, we can control our learning and skills development. When it comes to sales organizations, the sales enablement function and technology was created to help reps develop and hone their skills and become true sales experts through practice, coaching and continuous improvement.

The Purpose of Sales Enablement

Sales enablement as a function is designed to help salespeople achieve sales mastery. In order to reach mastery, reps need to ramp up as quickly as possible, learn how the product works, how to consistently communicate its value, understand what buyers care about and much more. Salespeople not only need to know the right information, but they also need to effectively deliver value to prospects and customers.

All of this is made possible with the help of sales enablement managers that design comprehensive training programs. These programs are best powered by sales enablement tools that teach reps what they need to know, certify that they understand it, reinforce it with coaching and mentoring, and continuously hone those skills and behaviors. Sales enablement tools are an integral part of developing reps with a level of expertise that transcends their experience.

Prioritize Expertise

By now it’s no secret – I prefer Candidate B and their 10 years of sales experience, broken sales records and sales expertise. If you prioritize expertise, experience becomes only a measure of time. This idea is best demonstrated by author, Charles Richards Ph.D.

“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.”

To learn more about how sales enablement tools help reps achieve sales mastery, watch this one-minute Brainshark introductory video.

To hear more from Jim Keenan, visit asalesguy.com.

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