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When you’re in sales, the most important thing you have is your reputation. What people think of you will determine whether or not you will be successful and, of course, how many people know who you are; this is why you need a personal marketing plan built on your reputation. If you work for a good company, you already have a corporate marketing plan ensuring that customers and potential customers know about your company. But that is only the first step; you also have to provide professional market visibility for yourself.
A few years ago, business guru Tom Peters talked about being your own business—(insert your name here) incorporated. This means that you should build up your personal brand as well as push your company’s brand. Not only will having your own branding help you to be a better salesperson for your company, but it will also help you be a better person overall. If you can establish your presence in the market and develop a great reputation for your professional ability as well as your knowledge, experience, and value as a salesperson, you will never have to wait for a job. The old saying “your reputation precedes you” has never been truer, and the time to spread the word about your reputation has never been better.
The first thing you have to do is make sure that you do have a great reputation. It makes no sense to brand yourself if you can’t deliver the goods. So, just like a company that has to make sure that it delivers the best overall value to its customers, as a salesperson, you have to deliver the best overall value in what you do. Thus, here are seven ways to make sure that your good reputation precedes you so that everyone in the marketplace knows your name.
1. Know Your Stuff
Know all you can about your product or service. The more you know about the product you’re selling, the more valuable you will be to your customers. Your job is to be your customers’ expert when it comes to the products you sell.
2. Keep Abreast of New Developments
Study, read, attend seminars, and watch webinars. Do whatever you can to learn about new developments with your market’s products. If you can inform your customers about new developments in your market, the more valuable you will be to them and the happier they will be to see you.
3. Check Out What Industry Experts Are Doing
Stay in touch with industry experts by reading their columns/articles, attending their seminars, or talking to them personally (developing a relationship with an industry expert is a very good thing). Find out what industry thought leaders are up to, absorb their knowledge, and pass it on to your customers.
4. Write About It
There are a number of great ways to position yourself as an industry leader when it comes to sales, and one of the best ways is to write. Write about your area of expertise. The amount of credibility you gain by writing is amazing. For example, write for I-Connect007, set up a regular blog, or post on LinkedIn. The more people who read your words, the greater your following will be, and the vaster your reputation will become.
5. Speak in Public
Talk about your craft. Teach others what you have learned. There is no better way to capture knowledge than to teach it. When you speak in public, you position yourself as an expert and will be seen as someone that customers will want to meet and do business with.
6. Get Creative
Task yourself with finding new and innovative ways of doing things. Figure out how to stay in front of your customers even when you are not there. Send a newsletter or tech bulletin. Do whatever it takes to constantly remind your customers and potential customers that you are there for them and a true industry leader when it comes to sales and customer service.
7. Be Reliable and Dependable
Be there when you say you are going to be there, snowstorm or not. Do what you say you are going to do and do it ahead of schedule. Make sure that you have the most solid of all reputable traits, which is always putting the customer first.
8. Be Outstanding
And, in the spirit of under-promising and over-delivering, here is one more tip. The best way to be remembered is to be legendary. Perform acts of service so outstanding that they become part of your legend (and who doesn’t want to be a legend?). Hand-deliver critical parts. Better yet, deliver them on Sunday in the middle of a blizzard (I did that once, and the customer talked about it for years not only with their words but also with their purchase orders). If your customer is having a problem, find a solution for them, even if the solution does not directly help your cause. These are all ways that your service can become so outstanding that it will be considered legendary.
Think about these ideas and get creative—come up with some of your own. The more focused you are on being the best in the field, the greater your chances are of becoming exactly that.
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.