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How Important is Expertise? [VIDEO]

There are cases where expertise isn’t so important. This video takes a look at some characteristics of these situations.

Video Transcription

Hi. I’m Lee Frederiksen. Today we want to talk about how important is expertise for your professional services firm. It’s a question that comes up because we talk a lot about expertise and visible expertise, and there are some people that are saying, “Well, maybe expertise isn’t so important in all situations.” And they’re right. There are some situations where expertise doesn’t really hold the day, isn’t as important. So, let’s look at some of the characteristics of those situations.

One of them is if there is a very sophisticated buyer and they know exactly what they’re looking for, and that’s all they’re looking for. They’re just looking for someone who can perform this one small service, and they can pretty easily evaluate the skills of a person. A little bit atypical, but not all that atypical. For example, if you’re an accounting firm, and you have the CFO and they’re looking for an audit company, they probably were an audit partner before they got that job, so they got a pretty good idea.

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Another characteristic is where expertise is assumed. It’s just assumed that if you work for a Big Four, you’ve got the basic skills. Or they assume if you’re a CPA, and that’s probably not a bad assumption, if you’re a CPA, you can do a lot of these things. So, that tends to reduce the importance of expertise. Also, in a competitive bid situation where that, again, expertise is assumed. If you’re bidding on an audit, they assume that you can do it. And that drives it really to commodity services. So, expertise is not important where there’s less involvement of you in any strategy, any decision making and it’s a commodity situation.

Now, that’s often not the case, so when you actually look at the research, it turns out that expertise is the number one selection criteria for people. In most decisions about hiring a new firm, almost three-quarters of them, 72% of them, are made based on the expertise that you bring. So, not all situations are ones where expertise are important. If you are in a commodity, or if you are in a competitive bid where everyone is assuming the expertise, you won’t. But in other situations, better attend to your expertise. Thank you.

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Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D. Who wears the boots in our office? That would be Lee, our managing partner, who suits up in a pair of cowboy boots every day and drives strategy and research for our clients. With a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology, Lee is a former researcher and tenured professor at Virginia Tech, where he became a national authority on organizational behavior management and marketing. He left academia to start up and run three high-growth companies, including an $80 million runaway success story.

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