When thinking of branding, most thoughts turn to large corporate brands like: Coca-Cola whose brand is estimated to be worth $70M, IBM’s brand estimated to be worth more than $60M, or the Google brand reported to be worth just over $43M. Why is developing a world-class brand worthwhile? Besides asset value, branding provides business leverage. A commodity competes only on price. But for a great brand, price is not the single issue.
That’s all true for companies, but what about individual sales people – can they leverage the power of branding? In Business Magazine, Kathy Heasley notes that “a brand is just two simple words – promise and experience.” This got us thinking about sales reps – can they develop a “personal brand” that will help them differentiate themselves from the competition?
We think the answer is “Yes”!
Top performing sales reps can build their own brand by the way they sell. Sales people can differentiate themselves by helping buyers think through problems differently than the competition – leaving the buyer with a more informed view of the problem, and a clearer picture of the issues and consequences. For example, through a conversation a buyer might realize that he hadn’t thought of the implications of rolling out a solution in Europe or she underestimated the impact on other divisions.
This is becoming more important because what sales reps sell increasingly looks more like what the competitors sell. Competitive advantages on products alone aren’t as sustainable as they used to be. If a great personal brand can be achieved, then the sales person can become a competitive advantage versus just selling a competitive advantage.
So, how could a sales person start to develop a personal brand? Some initial ideas are …
- Do what you say you’re going to do and do it every time. When we survey buyers, they identify following-up as a key attribute for the sales person to develop trust and creditability – a foundational requirement for establishing a personal brand.
- Leverage institutional resources. Know your company’s operational and personal resources and bring them to bear to help the customer address their needs and concerns – by doing so you develop the reputation for being able to make things happen.
- Don’t leave it to the buyer to “connect the dots”. Rather, collaborate with the customer to “connect the dots” between the buyer’s problems and your solution. An important aspect of a viable personal brand is the customer’s perception that you “solve problems versus sell products.”
- Document good news. One unfortunate truth is bad news documents itself, good news doesn’t. So a part of personal branding is about documenting and marketing those situations where you provide extraordinary value to the customer.
- Remember, the power of networking. In any B2B sales environment there is a substantial number of players involved in the decision process. Know who’s who, what role they play, and devote the time to develop and manage the relationships.
- Figure out what you are particularly good at. As with corporate brands a part of a great personal brand is about uniqueness. What is you uniqueness when in comes to selling? Know the answer and know how to make it helpful and memorable to the customer.
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©2011 Sales Horizons, LLC