I mentioned in last week’s blog that “buyers buy from people, not just companies.” I’ve heard buyers tell me hundreds of time, “I’m going to toss some incremental budget to this person because I really like working with them.” Obviously, the company represented needs to make sense to the buyer but, all things being equal, people buy from people they like.
But, how do you differentiate yourself from all the other sellers who are calling on your clients? I believe that you do this by marketing yourself…not just relying on your company’s marketing and advertising. You want to be known as the best salesperson to work with in your respective industry and geographic area, so here are some ideas to make that happen:
- Write & Speak
- Be Social
Be a Volunteer
“Allow the way to your great work to be guided by your service to others.” Mollie Marti
Most industries have trade organizations and if you are selling in a particular industry, you should find the group that is most used and get involved. There are even industry sales organizations like the National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP). In the industry that I’ve been involved with, advertising and marketing, there are a number of national organizations: Association of National Advertisers (ANA), American Marketing Association (AMA), and the American Advertising Federation (AAF). If you live in a larger metro area, you may find an organization locally based; in Southern California, I’ve been involved for years with ThinkLA (whose mission is to connect, inspire and educate the LA marketing community).
All industry trade organizations need volunteers to help on committees and events. You will be making a difference in your industry by volunteering your time and energy to help and you will also be making valuable connections with like-minded others in your business. Being active in your industry organization makes sense for a salesperson because you not only want to be an expert on your own products but also an expert in your own industry.
I’ve heard some salespeople say that they don’t have the time to volunteer…I believe you MAKE the time by prioritizing this as part of your daily business practice. This is an investment in your future and as worthwhile as a 401(k).
Be a Writer & Speaker
“It’s much easier to be convincing if you care about your topic. Figure out what’s important to you about your message and speak from the heart.” Nicholas Boothman
While many people say that they aren’t good writers or public speakers, I believe that great salespeople usually are very good writers and speakers…they HAVE to be because that is part of the job!
I recommend that great salespeople who are looking to build their personal brand search out for opportunities to write and speak about ideas and trends in their industry or business. Many of the types of organizations that I previously mentioned are often looking for speakers or panelists at their industry events. Look for opportunities to appear at these events and get on the stage…you have something important to say and your audience will learn from your comments.
Think about opportunities to also write about your experiences and learnings from being in sales and in your particular industry. It is really pretty easy to start a blog yourself or even to submit an ongoing column to your industry organization. As with volunteering, you need to commit to making the time and prioritizing these activities…your readers will learn from your writings and you will benefit from honing your communication skills. Developing a good writing practice will also help you in creating reports, presentations, and business communication.
“Networking isn’t how many people you know, it’s how many people know you.” Amit Kalantri
Social media can be fun, interesting, frustrating, irritating and time wasting…sometimes all at the same time! It can also be an incredible opportunity to build your personal brand. I believe that you can effectively use social media if you remember a few tips.
Sales Call Prep – I’ve known salespeople that effectively use Facebook before their sales meetings with clients by the simple act of posting photos of previous fun ‘client entertainment’ events. For example, if you have a meeting with clients on Thursday, you would post photos of yourself and the clients from a golf outing on the day before the meeting. The clients, obviously also on Facebook, will see your posts and have a positive memory of the golf outing. This will translate into a positive start to your client meeting on Thursday. I believe this is the online equivalent of a realtor baking warm chocolate chip cookies to aromatically welcome potential buyers into an open house!
Be Social Platform Specific – LinkedIn is a great social media platform for business…in fact, it can be a great way to further promote your writing or blog posts. It is also a great opportunity to promote an article or column that you read and learned from…and that you believe your network would benefit from reading. Obviously, it is also a great tool for researching both companies and individuals.
I believe that LinkedIn is the primary social platform to use for promoting your personal brand with Facebook and others as secondary platforms to add the more casual elements of your personal branding, i.e., client entertaining.
One last thing…these ideas may indeed seem to be time consuming but, with proper time management, you can easily put them into action. They are a great investment in yourself and can oftentimes make the difference in making the sale or in making the next career move.