Expertise Versus Experience

by | Oct 4, 2019 | Sales Motiviation

Do you ever listen to those financial planning talk shows on the radio?

Here’s a confession…I do.

Yeah, I know those shows are glorified commercials for the financial planner who purchased the air time. I know the purpose of the show is to get listeners to invest their money.

Nevertheless, I like listening to them. The subject matter is interesting, and I learn something new. I also enjoy some of the investing stories, both positive and negative, that the hosts tell about their clients.

As I listened to an investment show recently, the host was talking about people who handle their own investments instead of using professional advisors. Of course, the host contended that people should not do the investing themselves, because in the long run, their lack of knowledge ends up costing them money.

“I have clients with 40 years’ experience investing but no expertise,” the host said.

That comment stopped me in my tracks. What a profound thing to say! What a great argument for choosing a competent professional to work for you instead of winging it yourself.

The financial advisor’s statement was based upon the very significant difference between two similar-sounding words: experience versus expertise.

Experience is the amount of time you have done something. You do something and then check the box indicating you’ve done it. It’s a matter of marking time, showing up, clocking in. Experience is what goes on a resume.

Expertise, on the other hand, implies a sense of competency and effectiveness as well as the results you deliver and the outcomes you foster.

It’s much easier to tell people how long you’ve been doing something than to prove you’re good at doing it.

Maybe that’s why people don’t even pay attention when a company’s marketing materials boast things like, “We’ve been in business since 1933!” or “Our team has a combined 200 years of experience!” Such statements don’t necessarily mean anything. Experience is not as important as expertise.

For example, a 55-year-old sales professional usually has significantly more experience, than a 35-year-old one, but sometimes the younger person will actually be better than the more experienced colleague. Experience does not always equal expertise.

For sales professionals, we show our understanding of expertise versus experience when we prospect for new business. If you focus on your own attributes as a sales rep or the features and benefits of your offering, then you’re like one of those person’s who brags about their experience.

On the other hand, if you focus on your prospective client’s desired outcomes and results, you’re more likely to be viewed as an expert as opposed to some middling, ineffective sales rep who’s merely been doing it a long time.

There are plenty of sales reps who have trudged along, year after year, gaining tons of experience, yet they never make a lot of sales.

I have long been fascinated at how some sales reps consistently rank atop their company’s leader board, year after year, regardless of any external market conditions. At just about every company I work with, the leading reps are usually the same people each quarter, each year.

Why is that? I supposed talent, intelligence, good looks and a host of other factors could play a role. More likely, the consistent winners do a better job of proving their expertise as opposed to bragging about their experience.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide. He has spoken in 5 countries and 41 states. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

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