When your phone rings and your caller ID says, “No Caller ID” or “Unknown,” do you get excited to pick up the phone? No? You can probably understand why it’s important for salespeople to have an established “personal brand” and not just show up as “unknown” when prospecting or contacting leads.
Think about it for a minute. Who would you rather pick up the phone and talk to? Someone you are familiar with, or a total stranger? This is exactly the same question that goes through your prospects' minds when they are deciding whether to answer your call or return your email. And chances are, if they have heard your name, connected with you on LinkedIn or read a few of your blog posts, the chances of them engaging with you increase exponentially.
So What is a Personal Brand?
Personal branding, according to Wikipedia, is the practice of people marketing themselves and their careers as brands. While previous self-help management techniques were about self-improvement, the personal-branding concept suggests instead that success comes from self-packaging.
This self-packaging includes creating a digital footprint and online presence that may include some or all of the following: social media, blogging, a personal website, speaking engagements, authorship of books and articles, and more. The key concept here is that you are ultimately in control of what you want your personal brand to be and how you want to be represented. One important thing to note about building a personal brand is that this is your brand and not someone else’s brand. You need to make sure you are being authentic and portraying who you really are and what you really think.
Benefits of a Personal Brand
As I alluded to in the introduction, the most beneficial reason for developing a strong personal brand is the recognition that you will receive in your industry by prospects and leads. Most people that are seeking to build a personal brand for business purposes won’t become a household name or as popular as successful business personalities such as Richard Branson (Virgin), Elon Musk (Tesla / Solar City), or Marissa Mayer (Yahoo). Some will, but for most of us the real benefit is that you are leaving a digital footprint that can be traced by prospects and leads so they can learn a little bit about you and understand more about you and the company you represent. By building your personal brand, you develop a digital footprint that consists of your thoughts and ideas, typically expressed through social media or items you have shared via different platforms (YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, personal website, etc).
Doing Business With People We Know
There is an old adage that “people like to do business with people they like,” and what better way to introduce yourself to someone you have never met before than by providing information about your company, your products or services, and your thoughts on the industry you work in? When you are actively speaking at tradeshows, networking events, and posting on social networks, you are making yourself more recognizable, approachable, and presenting yourself as someone that people want to do business with.
If you are a sales manager, you will soon see that the salespeople who have worked on establishing a personal brand are typically setting more appointments and closing more deals. Think about it for a minute: If you were a prospect, who would you want to do business with? The person who is invisible online? Or the person who shows up in all of the online searches, has an active social profile, and who has established himself or herself as a thought leader in your industry?
The choice is clear in my mind… and probably your prospects'. The salesperson with an easy-to-find digital footprint and established personal brand will always beat out the invisible salesperson.