As the role of today’s sales professional continues to evolve so does the responsibility to deliver more value to prospects and customers.
It’s been widely cited that customers complete “nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision—researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on—before even having a conversation with a supplier”. What this means for sales professionals is that those who want to thrive must make a shift from acting as gatekeepers during the sales process to establishing themselves as gurus within their given market. Building a personal brand is one way to stand out from the crowd as that trusted advisor.
Start by uncovering your unique selling proposition (USP)
Your unique selling proposition (USP) as a sales professional is your differentiator. What makes you a better guide than your peers for helping prospects to navigate through the purchasing process?
Is it your experience in a specific market? Is it your ability to distil industry trends into actionable insights for your customers? Is it a particular skill such as social selling or pitching?
Asking yourself, “How do I add value to the sales process?” is the perfect starting place for defining your unique selling proposition. Then, find a way to clearly, concisely and memorably articulate that USP to your audience.
Financial services professional Saul M. Simon trademarked the phrase ‘Simon Says’ and used it in his email address, book, and television appearances as a catchy tagline. He says, “When educating and helping people to manage their money, I also get to use the expression ‘Simon Says’ so that they follow my advice to help them accomplish their goals…it’s a differentiator.”
Personal brands are often built around experience, skills or subject matter expertise, all of which make excellent brand themes. Providing education through content is a strong play for salespeople who want to establish themselves within a specific niche.
Or perhaps your brand could be designed around a specific method of sharing content such as a podcast, blog, or, social media channel. Luxury menswear designer Joshua Kercher did just that with his Snapchat channel.
Says Joshua, “The combination of social influence marketing and in-person relationship building with our clients resulted in over $300,000 in sales our first year with no paid marketing.”
Establish Your Brand's Homebase
A critical aspect of building your personal brand as a sales professional is to build a digital “home base” that belongs to you entirely where you can publish your content and interact with your audience. That means that you’ll need a website, blog, or social media presence on a channel that you (not your current employer) has ownership of.
Although a website or blog is ideal, you can also start building your home base on a social channel such as Twitter, Facebook, or Snapchat, like Joshua’s. Choose a channel where your audience ‘hangs out’ so that you can maximize your exposure and engagement to them. For example, if your audience is comprised of commercial realty professionals, you’ll likely be better off choosing Linkedin over Snapchat.
Leverage Your Brand With Social Selling
Once you’ve established your brand, take it out for a spin. One great way that to leverage the power of your new personal brand is through social selling. Social selling is a highly underutilized way for salespeople to add value to the purchasing process while growing their brand and it’s very simple. Find people in your target audience online who need help…and help them.
- Answer questions about your industry, product, or service on Quora or in niche communities for your market and audience’s industry.
- Join Linkedin and Facebook groups where your audience congregates and offer helpful, thoughtful responses when relevant questions or discussions arise. Be careful not to be overly promotional.
- Share useful (read: not promotional) content on Linkedin, Twitter, or on whatever channel where your audience consumes content. Offer your two cents on the content along with any additional insights you can share.
- Start blogging as a way to publish valuable content based on your experience and expertise. Link to it on social media and during sales dialogues.
- Offer to guest blog for companies that are in your market but not competitive to your own company.
The most important thing to know about building your personal brand is that you should start today. By working on your brand a little bit at a time, you’ll start to grow your brand’s visibility and credibility. It’s a worthy investment to make not just for your own sales performance but for your career overall.
Start using the content you're developing to close deals and win clients. What tips do you have for building a personal brand? Let us know in the comments!