When you’re in sales, the most important thing you have is your reputation. It’s all about what people think of you that will determine whether or not you will be successful. And of course, how many people know who you are. This is why you have to have a personal marketing plan built on your reputation.
If you are working for a good company, you already have a corporate marketing plan assuring that customers and potential customers know all about your company. But that is only the first step. You also have to provide professional market visibility for yourself as well.
A few years ago, business guru, Tom Peters talked about being your own business, about being (insert your name here) incorporated. This means that you should be building up your own personal brand as well as pushing your company’s brand.
Not only will having your own branding help you to be a better salesperson for your company, it will also help you be better overall. If you can establish that presence in your market, if you can develop that great reputation for your sales ability as well as your knowledge, experience and value as a salesperson, you will never want for a job.
The old saying “your reputation precedes you” has never been more true 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 indeed have a great reputation. It makes no sense to be branding yourself if you can’t deliver the goods. So just like a company that has to make sure that it is delivering the best overall value to its’ customers, you as a salesperson have to deliver the best overall value in what you do.
That being said, here are seven ways to make sure that “your good reputation precedes you”, so that everyone out there in your marketplace knows your name.
- 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 are selling.
- Keep abreast of new developments: Study, read, go to seminars and webinars, do whatever you have to do to know what new developments are happening with your market’s products. If you are able to keep your customers aware of new developments in your market, the more valuable you will be to them and the happier they will be to see you.
- Check out what the industry experts are doing: Stay in touch with your industry’s experts whether they be the process engineers or the Quality engineers. Stay in touch with them either by reading their articles, attending their seminars or talking to them personally (developing a relationship with an industry expert is always a very good thing). Find out what those thought leaders are up to, absorb their information, and pass it on to your customers.
- Write about it: There are a number of great ways you can position yourself as an industry leader and one of the best ways is to write. Write about your area of expertise. It is amazing the amount of credibility you get from writing. Write a regular column in a trade magazine such as this one (I-Connect) set up a regular blog; post on Linkedin. The more people who read your words, the greater your following will be and the greater your reputation will become.
- 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. Again, when you speak in public you position yourself as an expert, someone that people in your fields, customers, no less want to meet and do business with.
- 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. Put out a newsletter or tech bulletin. Do whatever it takes to be a constant reminder to your customers and potential customers that you are there for them and you are a true industry leader when it comes to sales and customer service.
- 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, always try to do it ahead of schedule. Make sure that you have that most solid of all reputable traits and that is to put the customer first…always.
And in the spirit of under promising and over delivering, here is one more.
- Be Outstanding: The best way to be remembered is to be so outstanding that you are 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 those 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 with purchase orders as well). If the 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 is so outstanding that it will be considered legendary.
Think about these ideas, then get creative and come up with some of your own. The more focused you are on being the best in field the more your chances of being just that will be. It’s only common sense.