As a quota carrying sales rep, you have a number to hit. The year is well under way. Are you going to rely too much on marketing to provide high quality leads to hit the number? Let’s be honest, the majority of reps would be out on the street if they had to rely solely on marketing for Lead Generation What can you do about it?
Simply put, you have to drive your own brand to ensure that prospects are finding you when searching for options.
Our Make the Number Tour specifically addresses market changes that will affect you in 2013. Sign up for the Tour to learn how your peers are promoting themselves and driving sales this year and next.
Create A Brand Called You
Why is it so important to build your personal brand?
The answer lay in the fact that buyer trends are shifting. Don’t be left out of the picture. The reality is that B2B buyers today will progress almost 60% of the way through the buying cycle before they ever engage a sales rep. You’ve been squeezed out. Now you have a 40% window where you once had 70%.
For those in denial, think about the last major purchase you made. Chances are you began your search online and narrowed down your choices before you ever picked up the phone. Your prospects are doing the same.
Let’s assume you have a meeting with a big prospect. What are they going to do before the meeting?
They are likely going to go online and look for you and your company. What will they find? If they find you, what will they see?
A LinkedIn profile without a photo
Unflattering social media pictures from a lake trip
Or, a detailed professional bio that presents you in way that creates interest
Social media profiles should sell your strengths. You want your prospect to view a profile that conveys mastery of your industry. Otherwise you might just receive a “too busy right now, can we reschedule” email.
Case and Point
Recently I spent the day shadowing a sales rep named Jim who has been in field sales for 20 plus years. He shared frustrations over the market, continuing price pressures in his industry and the lack of customer loyalty. He mentioned he knew a solid prospect in his segment but was unable to secure any good contacts first hand.
I asked if he had checked his LinkedIn network for any warm leads and he responded, “I have a LinkedIn account because my firm made me do it, but I’ve never done much with it. I just don’t see value in it.”
That afternoon I added Jim to my network, made the introductions and in doing so helped him move one step closer to gaining a new logo.
Jim’s story is not unique. It is indicative of many reps who either don’t see the value in personal branding or schedule time for it. The sad reality is that the buyer’s journey is changing, and you can either hope to compete in the 40% window or break into the 60%.
Look at the LinkedIn Profile below for Fred Landis. I started a search on LinkedIn based on the query of CRM. Towards the top of the search list I found Fred. What is notable about Fred’s profile is the following:
He is a premium user, part of LinkedIn’s Open Network and we have groups in common
A large number of connections at 500 +
Most impressive are the 26 recommendations he has from people who have either worked with Fred or purchased his services
If you were in the market for CRM services and consulting, would you want to learn more about Fred and possibly have a conversation with him? His online brand is strong and one that encourages the viewer to look further at Fred.
Two Strategies for Building Your Brand Right Now
First, take the bull by the horns and start creating your own brand. The first steps are obvious. Create LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts if you don’t have them already.
You have to think of the strategy as developing your own intellectual property. These accounts become the foundation of any sound social media campaign, be it personal or corporate. When you create a strong personal brand - both online and through more traditional means - you are moving away from what is considered a disruptive model, i.e., cold calling.
When you create a brand that hits on numerous social media outlets you begin the process of getting noticed.
Don’t just create social accounts and allow them to go dormant. Leverage them to the fullest by continually updating, growing your network and sharing your expertise, i.e., share your company blog posts, press releases, interesting trade articles and etc.
HubSpot has many great “how-to” resources, including this one here that you can apply to your own social accounts. Being socially active is about creating brand recognition that captures the prospect’s attention when they are in discovery mode.
In building your brand or strengthening, another source is Vince Koehler who provides some key insights on protecting your network from predatory efforts by your competition. The primary recommendations are effective gatekeeping and locking down your contacts - two simple strategies that are worth incorporating into your online presence.
Second, tap into the power and expertise of your own marketing department to build your brand. This strategy is one that most quota carrying reps have overlooked and is by far the most productive. Approach the head of marketing - if they are accessible - and ask who oversees Lead Generation for your firm. Get to know that person, discuss your brand and glean any and all insights on building your brand.
By working in tandem with their efforts you will capitalize on corporate efforts to build your brand. No reason to reinvent the wheel. These corporate marketing tools and discussions should be all you need to master your own brand. By working with marketing, you’ll avoid the temptation of prospecting in isolation which can be a common mistake.
1. Buyer trends are shifting, and you have to do more to engage the prospects earlier through online marketing and branding.
2. Leveraging the power of your firm’s marketing efforts will build your brand and capture early opportunities with buyers while they are discovery mode.
If you are a field sales rep and you have ideas on this topic and future topics, please submit them in the comments section below. Your peers would like to hear more.