You have heard it before: you’ve got to become a trusted advisor to your prospects in order to be successful in today’s sales environment. Great, how do you get that deep understanding? Take advantage of the disruption in the consulting industry.

Business development seems to never have been tougher. There you are representing a new, exciting offering. What organization would be most likely to value it? Who in that firm would be the best to contact? Why no problem, your marketing department is just pumping out those qualified leads. No? Didn’t think so – only a few organizations really have that mastered.

What are you going to do, reach for the old Rolodex? A lot of those folks aren’t in the organizations you are trying to reach. Hell, half the companies didn’t even exist a few years ago and they’re private. How are you going to get the real skinny on what is going on within prospects and who are the right people you should reach.

Here’s a twist to consider. You’re always hearing about how industry after industry is being disrupted. Why not take advantage of the disruption that has taken place in at least one of them – consulting. CB Insights provides a great view on how management consulting has succumbed. Specifically, what is important to you as a business developer is the ability for you to access the expertise that intimately knows the players in a company and their needs.

Don’t buy generic studies by industry pundits. They won’t give you the actionable insights you need. Why not talk to people who have worked for your prospects. Alternatively, non-competitive vendors to your potential targets can also give you valuable perspectives. Best of all, you don’t need to pay anywhere near the stratospheric fees that the premium management consultants would charge for this.

GLG, Alphasights, Third Bridge, Guidepoint and more are companies in a service you’ve likely never heard of: Expert Networks. Expert Networks provide a matchmaking service between someone with the need to understand specific companies, markets or technologies and individuals who live and work in those arenas.

These organizations were originally begun as a service to investors. Over time they have expanded to serve a wide customer base including some of the very consulting firms they are disrupting. You too, can take advantage of this to get a much deeper insight and more quickly than you probably thought possible. The experts are forbidden to reveal any non-public information (as defined by the SEC) but insights like who is buying and what challenges they face are just fine. Think about it. With information like this you can tailor your value proposition and shape your contact approach.

The service is not free but your cost is largely driven by what the SME charges the Expert Network firm. You get to pick. Naturally, the more you use a service the better terms you get.

Things are not standing still. Ironically, the Expert Network firms maybe about to be disrupted providing an even better deal for you. A new service named Experty, based upon the Blockchain technology, Ethereum, is being introduced. It’s early days but it looks like more ways to access experts will be coming. Four MIT students are launching a company called DeepBench. Their goal is to use technology to facilitate the connection between buyers of knowledge and the SME’s where it resides.

Go ahead, become that trusted advisor. Good luck and good selling!

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