Article Summary:How establishing a personal brand can help you achieve greater sales success.
A number of the very successful sales reps whom I coach have a strategy for winning that is worth considering. They do what entertainers, sports figures, and politicians do--they brand themselves.
I do admit it is unusual for someone who sells for a company to establish and promote their personal brand identity. (Many senior executives do: Welch, Bossidy, Jobs, et. al.) However, for some sales pros I coach, having a personal brand identity has enabled them to continue exceeding quota even as some of their customers have tightened up their spending and their competitors are dropping like flies.
One winner has branded himself as a high-integrity problem solver. Among the tactics he employs to maintain his brand is this: At the end of the first meeting with an executive-level prospect, he leaves them with a high-quality folder of testimonials written by different people from a broad sampling of customers attesting to his integrity, ability to provide solutions for their business opportunities and challenges, and statements that he regularly puts their interests above his own. What does that do for him? It equates his name with credibility--that elusive product of integrity and competence. And it leaves an impression.
Company brand is not enough
There is another rep I know who also brands himself. His company has its own brand identity. They have a good product and a good reputation, but they have literally dozens of competitors. So this sales professional has figured out that his company and product can't do the whole job for him. For him to be successful he had to personally brand himself.
He sells to manufacturers within a geographic territory and let me tell you, he owns that territory. His name is known by at least one person in half the manufacturing companies in that area, and that's not by chance. While his company promotes themselves, he promotes himself.
Don't get me wrong, it's not done in a way that at all conflicts with the efforts of his company, in fact, it totally compliments it. He is known as the source of information, insight, experience and a broker of that information.
He doesn't nearly know the answers to all the questions that are posed to him, but he knows where to find them. He's branded himself as the GoTo person. He puts himself in the middle of the action and as a result, his customers and prospects go to him for answers, opinion, guidance and his products.
Here's what he does
His appetite for information is huge and his attention to detail even greater. He does all the Sales 101 stuff, like never forgetting a customer's birthday or congratulating them on good news. But he carries that practice much further. He tells me his customers feel he is ever-present.
The product he sells is secondary. Important, but not that important. He's not a product expert, but is an expert in how his company's product helps his customer's top and bottom lines. He can quote the numbers. Produce the ROIs. Need tech specs? He's got lots of people in his company who will jump at the chance to work with him. (He shares the credit. He leads. He wins. And people follow winners--winner is a powerful brand!)
A starting point
Before you go any further, you'll need to assemble the key components that will constitute your personal brand. Here are some questions:
A defining statement
You'll need a defining statement. It states what you do, your value and what makes you different.
Yours will likely not mention your company. Here is an example:
"I assist government IT managers in getting their software development projects completed on time and on budget."
And of course, you'll want to use that defining statement
Building your brand
Consider taking some or all of these actions to build and maintain your brand:
Branding and your career
One of the benefits of personal branding is that it comes with you if you change companies. If you brand yourself successfully, your competitors will know who you are. So will recruiters. So will potential customers in your geography and target market segment. I'm not suggesting that you brand yourself for the purpose of finding a better job, but it certainly makes things easier if that situation arises.
If you do build brand identity equating yourself with what is valuable to buyers in your marketplace, you'll build credibility, differentiate yourself and you'll sell a lot more.
Dave Stein is the President & Founder of The Stein Advantage, Inc., which offers companies diagnostic and remedial expertise to hire top sales professionals, better position themselves in the eyes of industry analysts, overcome tough competitors, motivate their sales forces, and refocus their selling efforts to achieve new levels of credibility and differentiation with higher-level executives to whom they are selling. Dave's unique skills in competitive sales strategies and political positioning combined with the success he has brought to his clients make Dave much in demand as a speaker, author, consultant, coach, and trainer. His Amazon bestseller How Winners Sell is now in its Second Edition. For more information, visit How Winners Sell.