Guest post by Sahil Mansuri, CEO and Co-founder of Bravado.
Why does a buyer talk to a sales professional?
- To get pricing?
- Take a demo?
- Compare features and capabilities?
Historically, submitting your info to get pricing, a piece of content, a free trial… anything at all… was seen as a bear trap set by vendors to coerce buyers into a miserable sales process.
But thanks to G2 Crowd, Capterra, TrustRadius, Quora, Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn, the Internet… buyers do NOT need to talk to a sales professional in order to get answers to their questions.
So let’s ask the question differently.
In 2019, why does a buyer talk to a sales professional?
- Deep industry knowledge.
In other words, buyers no longer need to talk to you. Instead, you must convince them to choose to work with you. This is why building your personal brand is necessary to succeed in 2019. Otherwise, how will buyers know that you are a consultative expert in your field?
Welcome to the modern sales process: powered by human connection in an otherwise digitized world.
Okay. How do I build my personal brand?
Great question! The good news is, whether you realize it or not, you already have one! No need to start from scratch; just need to do a little self-discovery.
Shelley Zalis wrote for Forbes, “Personal branding isn’t about coming up with a complicated strategy. Rather, it’s about knowing who you are and what you stand for, and then finding ways to make that visible.”
The most trusted brands have:
- Clarity – it’s clear what it is they stand for
- Consistency – they deliver on what they promise
- Constancy – they’re visible; they build and nurture relationships regularly
You may be asking yourself right now: What am I trying to be clear on? How can I be consistent if I’m not clear?
It’s totally normal to be unaware of what your strengths are. They come easily to you, so you’re not thinking about it! You have to recognize that the things that come easily to you do not come easily to other people.
You may feel like building your brand around your strengths is self-promoting. In fact, it’s the opposite. It is your duty to promote your strengths! You never know who can benefit from what you have to offer the world.
Side note: If you’re comfortable selling the features and benefits of your product, you should be comfortable selling the benefits of working with you. Whether you intend for it or not, customers aren’t just evaluating a product. They are buying the experience of being your client, too.
The best way to gain visibility into your strengths and find out what unique magic you have to offer is to do a little self-reflection. Understanding and discovering your personal brand is really understanding and discovering yourself.
- How do you connect with others?
- How do others respond to you?
- How do others perceive you?
- What are your personal core values?
- What do people seem to always ask you about?
- What makes you uniquely good at sales?
To dig even deeper into this self-discovery, ask your friends and colleagues how they’d answer these questions about you. How would they describe you? If there are areas of misalignment, take the opportunity to reflect and iterate on your self-perception. Then, pick the descriptions that resonate strongly with you. Focus on cultivating and amplifying them.
After you’ve got a good sense of these answers, it’s time to start putting it all to work.
Below is a simple, three-step framework that we teach at Bravado for personal brand building. The steps are Curate, Annotate, Create.
It’s intimidating to just start publishing content or making videos, right? It’s totally reasonable to ease into it.
Remember the skills you wrote down earlier? That’s your secret sauce.
Find a few articles that talk about these qualities in a way that speaks to you. Maybe you’re passionate about being organized and efficient. Find a few articles that discuss how to maximize productivity and post them on LinkedIn with your top takeaway. You don’t need to do anything more than reshare 1-2 articles per week that fit your personal narrative and passions. Use hashtags to help relevant folks find your content.
Pro Tip: Set up Google Alerts, so you have a steady stream of fresh content coming in the door.
Now you’ve started posting content that is relevant to your interests and helps the world see what matters to you. Next, it’s time to start annotating that content. Start by jotting down a few comments on the article that brings to light your personal knowledge of the space. For example: “This article discusses how to eliminate clutter. The 3rd tip around watching Marie Kondo videos is one I find especially useful.”
Maybe you agree, maybe you disagree, maybe you have something to add. Just have a point of view. Post your next piece of content with your thoughts. You’re essentially annotating and going a little deeper on each piece. Think Rap Genius, but on your LinkedIn feed!
Pro Tip: Do this regularly. Find a cadence you can stick to. Remember, Constancy is a foundational pillar of building a brand!
After a few weeks, you’re will have read and thought about productivity and clutter on a regular basis. Now you’ve got enough references and opinions to write a Medium post or create a video. Choose the method you feel most comfortable with.
It can start simple: “5 Tips for Marie Kondo-ing Your Life.” Pick your 5 favorite tips from the articles you posted and combine them, along with adding a few personal notes. Boom, you’re an author!
Think of it as preheating the oven for content creation. It’s the easiest way for you to get started with creating content. You never know who is going to connect with something you wrote. Stay with it and give it time to build momentum.
Jeremey Donovan’s ‘Hey Salespeople’ posts on LinkedIn are a great example. He started with just a handful of people liking his posts. After just a couple months of daily posts, he’s earned more than 350 likes and 175 comments.
Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there. Take the first step, and take another, and the momentum will drown out your fears quickly.
“If you have a voice inside your head that says you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh
Pro Tip: If you have any questions or want to learn more about how to build your personal brand, or why it is necessary to succeed in the modern sales environment, please connect with me on Bravado.
Want to learn more about ways top sales performers find success? Download research on the Best Practices of Top Performing Sales Reps here!