School of Sales 1 – personal branding

One of the first elements that always strikes me during sales workshops is the pungent lack of attention salespeople pay to personal branding. Sales lead generation doesn’t magically happen overnight, it’s the pinnacle of a customer journey you take them on.

Traditionally, the customer journey is embarked on from a customer’s perspective.

  • what is their need and why does it exist?
  • why do they have this need now?
  • why should they trust YOU to solve this need now to avoid it in the future?

The last point is essential: without trust, there is no need to continue. You may have the best solution there is on the market, but if people lose faith in your brand or you, that’s it.

So, consider going the other way around. You know the business, its product, and the competition. Pricing, product range, competitor, and customer profiling – you’re an established and proven source of information.

Use the power of you and your network to become the best-profiled reference you can be and build trust with your audience: anticipate their needs, pay attention to their wants, remove all friction. Engage in personal branding; people will come to you.

How? You collect, you share, you scale.

1. Collect and process – promote your brand

People are a collection of experiences. Put your expertise to good use: engage with your contacts via content that promotes your qualities and builds up trust.

Belgians tend to keep that expertise to themselves because they don’t want others to use freely what they paid dues for. You may think you’re oversharing, but you’re undersharing.

TOP TIP 1 – What to tell? Quite simple, your contacts ask you questions every day. Answer those in a structured manner. What have you/they been up to? What do you recommend/advise against? What do you see as the next big thing? Or see come back as a vintage trend?

TOP TIP 2 – quality over quantity. Try out different topics on a small scale (LinkedIn or Instagram). Experience what works and what doesn’t. Learn, grow.

Don’ t be afraid to articulate your views. You’re entitled to them as much as the next person. Trial and error define the content gameplay. If it works, victory. If it doesn’t, move on.
There will be copycats, but remember imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Key elements:

  • Relevance – you deliver real value by answering truthfully to real questions. Sharing a good idea does not mean that people will be able to operationalize it. That’s what they’ll be hiring you for.
  • SEO – use keywords, not buzzwords. Anybody can sell BS; you sell expertise.
  • Try, fail, retry, succeed. Trial and error make for the differentiator.

2. Spread the word – share your views

We all want content to go viral. Dare to dream but set realistic goals first.
For me, LinkedIn still validates as the best B2B direct-access database of key decision-makers with executive power on whether or not to buy your product or service. LinkedIn is where everybody wants to be found and wants to be hired.

Key elements:

  • Timing – LinkedIn is work, so work it during working hours. When does your market have sales meetings? When do you have coffee/smoking breaks – that’s when you should be posting!
  • Leverage – you can tag people in your network in your LinkedIn posts. Make people aware of what you’re doing and how you might leverage one another. People are often more cooperative than you give them credit for.
  • Patience – take 6-8 weeks incubation period into account before seeing any results. Like going to crossfit to build that muscle mass – perseverance creates perfection. Also, yes, your mom will be your biggest fan at first. We’ve all had to suffer through that.

3. When validated – scale your conversion

Vanity metrics will do nothing for you. What do you prefer: the one share from the missing link in your sales funnel to open a conversation? Or a 1000 likes from an Indian click farm?

The right sales lead is the conversion you need. When converted, leverage that deal towards the next one. Use the experience from the funnel to analyse how you made it happen. Validate your part in closing the deal to do one even better the next time.

Your story and its resonance in your network will establish you as a trusted brand. People who are trusted, are people who are confided in. That’s how you spot opportunities, uncover niches, develop business, accelerate sales.

How is your brand doing? Please drop me a line on LinkedIn and let me know.

Michael Humblet