I just had recounted to me a pearl of wisdom attributed to a Dr Peter Asquith. Apparently a surgeon, this sage once saw a colleague completely taken apart on the stand by a silk in a legal case. The lesson he had confirmed to him was,
“never go beyond your realm of expertise”.
It seemed that the other doctor entered an arena in which they were not an authority, and mistakenly tried to present themselves as being knowledgeable therein.
It was a mistake. A disaster, even.
It reminded me of how many times I’ve seen someone pitching, only for their credibility to disappear when they too ill-advisedly go beyond their own area of expertise.
It is of course ingrained into a salesperson’s psyche to often ‘wing it’. Thinking on your feet is an essential skill. But when this transgresses a line, well, you’re usually in all sorts of irretrievable trouble.
The answer is clear; don’t do it. There’s no shame in pausing, asking further questions and even going away if necessary to get the answers or more from an expert back at base. It’s a simple method of stopping you from being derailed.
When even esteemed surgeons can come a cropper, especially in the jaws of expert cross-examination, then what chance have you got in the prospect furnace of your presentation?