Be the Best Version of You: Personal Branding

For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of the average business owner.

You walk in the door of her office, and you think you’re unique. But the reality is that your competitors have already been there. Or will be there soon. Maybe even some of your teammates called on her. And so did the yellow pages guy. And the copier salesman. And she got three phone calls from people wanting her to update her website or change her internet service. Not to mention the little league team that wants to put her business name on their jerseys.

iStock_000003300049LargeIt’s been estimated that the average business owner interacts with well over 100 salespeople per month.

You are one face in a hundred.

What can you do to stand out? How can you be memorable? What will make your clients see you as something other than just another salesperson?

Having a personal brand will give you a memorable and meaningful identity with your prospects and clients. Here are some ideas about developing your own personal brand:

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Be Authentic
I know what it’s like to sit in a sales meeting or in a training and think, “Man, I wish I could come up creative ideas as fast as she does,” or “If I could just answer answer objections like he does, I’d be all set.” There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to sales, and it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to master every single one of them. It’s tempting to try to mimic someone else’s approach, to attempt to clone them. But you’ll inevitably fail.

Certainly, take every opportunity to learn from a successful salesperson, but realize that your success doesn’t depend on you copying someone else but rather being the best version of yourself. The very first sale we have to make to a prospect is selling ourselves. If you’re not selling YOU then you’re going to fail. I believe that authenticity is the single most valuable and compelling commodity that we have as salespeople.

If you’re outgoing and gregarious, own it. If you’re a quiet numbers person, own it. If you love sports, don’t be shy to talk about it. If being a mom is what most animates you, share that part of yourself. Let your clients get to know you, the real you, the best you. Don’t be overbearing or obnoxious, but be yourself.

You can only be you. Be the best version of you.

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Be An Expert Consultant
One key way you can stand out from the crowd of people wanting to simply sell your clients something is to be an expert consultant. Most of my clients have zero desire to be sold something. However, almost all of them want to be taught how they can improve their businesses. If I can give them resources, case studies, and ideas to do that, I am going to make myself memorable to them.

This requires research ahead of time. Too many salespeople try to learn everything there is to know about a client when they’re standing in front of them. It is much wiser to do a lot of research ahead of time. Get knowledgable about your client’s industry, company, and competitors. You’ll communicate that you respect them and their time when you can ask in-depth questions from the beginning. You’ll show that they mean enough to you that you did your homework ahead of time.

Trust me, after all the schlubs that have forced them into uneducated conversations, they’ll find you as an expert consultant to be a breath of fresh air.

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Be Appropriately Professional
A few years ago, I attended a sales meeting in Wisconsin with our local sales rep who had scheduled the meeting. We were meeting with the headmaster of a large, stuffy, religious high school. Tuition was expensive and standards were high. Students had to wear a dress code, and the headmaster reminded me of someone out of Dead Poets Society. Our local rep and I met in the parking lot. He showed up an oversized polo shirt, shorts that showed off a large tattoo on his leg, and a pair of scuffed up work boots. I was in a suit and tie … just like the headmaster we met with. We didn’t close the sale.

It’s tremendously important to communicate respect to your clients by appearing, talking, and conducting yourself in an appropriately professional manner. To be clear, I don’t think it’s necessary to always wear a suit and tie with a client. In fact, I think it can be a determent if it communicates “sleazy salesman.” Or, if you’re meeting with an auto body shop owner, for instance, I doubt a business suit is the way to go. The point is not to be too casual or too formal, but to be appropriately professional.

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Be Consistently Different
Speaking of how we dress, on Mondays through Thursdays, my company requires me to wear a suit and tie. For a while, this policy annoyed me, until I decided a few years ago to use it to my advantage. I started wearing bowties. In my market, I’m totally cool with being remembered as the “bowtie guy.” In fact, I’ve embraced it. The thank you cards that I send clients and prospects after meetings have my custom bowtie logo on them. They reinforce my personal brand.

There are hundreds of hooks you can use to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Be the person who drops off coffees once a month. Take your clients relevant articles. Always send thank you notes.

But to develop a brand, you can’t just do it once and give up. Personal branding takes consistency. When companies develop brands, they create style guides to make sure that all of their communication adheres consistently to their brand. Think about your own style guide – the way you dress, speak, write email, and entertain your clients. How can you do it with creativity and consistency?

That is your personal brand.
That is how you stand out as the go-to one in a crowd of a hundred.

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Come back tomorrow for an article about the psychology of successful salespeople.

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