I am often amazed at how little most sales people invest in the value of their own personal brand and lack understanding of what social selling is and how to apply it amongst their kit bag of tools.
Avoiding the puns from the late Stuart Baggs of the Apprentice about “I am the brand” , having an online brand is not about necessarily having your name in lights or being known or famous, it is the public view you give of yourself to others .
A prospective customer or employer in knowing your name will inevitably at some point look you up online, as they will the company or product they may consider buying in their business lives or at home. Who of us hasn’t when thinking of going somewhere or buying a product or service done a quick search, looked at their web site, looked at shopping sites like Amazon and Ebay, read reviews, perhaps asked friends on Facebook or twitter their experience etc
When I am going to meet a customer or am about to interview someone for a sales role I always check them out on Linkedin, look on twitter/facebook and a quick Google Search, allowing me to know a little context about them as a person and even to a degree a little of what personality type they are.
Today it is so incredibly easy to find a wealth of information on anything to enable a pragmatic, informed and safer decision and in the mobile world you can do it easily anytime, anyplace. So why expect that you as an individual will not be looked up at some point and pre-judged, especially if you are doing the same of others as I described above.
Like it or not, disagree with its fairness, it doesn’t matter. The buyer has more control than ever and that includes on finding out about you as a person as well as your proposition and company . You may have read previously on how the buyer dynamic has changed , often a customer having done 60-70% of their research before a sales person gets engaged. Expect this to also include on you when you do engage.
So firstly make sure your online profiles represent you well. It’s not difficult and your own profile is yours, it travel s with you wherever you go and can begat you new opportunities you did not expect. Use a professional and friendly looking photo of yourself (not one partying or on holiday) and use a similar or same one across your profiles. Have a good summary BIO of yourself and again keep it consistent across profiles. Add links to awards you have won, articles mentioned in, content written etc, anything pertinent that showcases you as a person professionally. Make it a small project to polish your online presence, look at others profiles and plagiarize ideas you spot that would work for yourself. My main profiles for example can be seen at http://www.ianmoyse.co.uk & https://twitter.com/imoyse . I continue to review these and improve them as I see what others are doing that I like and see value in.
Social Selling means I have to spend my life online as an expert at social media and publish lots of information right? Wrong. Social selling is all about profile, listening, engagement and publishing/push of information as a combined effort.
Once your profile is polished, look at who you connect with, follow, retweet, repost content from etc. A simple engagement might be simply liking and sharing a person’s content onwards or one step further reposting someone’s tweet and adding your own comment such as “a great point and I also think xyz” or replying to that person with a question or comment. In doing so you begin to get engagement, not only with your followers and audience, but also with the author you have paid compliment to by sharing their content. So you don’t have many followers or connections yet, no matter it still pays compliment to them and your content sharing may gain you more followers.
Remember also what you share is what viewers of your profiles will see of you, so think carefully about sharing lewd or anything that could be deemed offensive, sexist, etc What you share represents you. In my view people do not want to know you had a great sandwich just know, but sharing valuable content and facts relevant to your industry can have value to the wider audience.
Social Media in terms of a brand and engagement is a long play. Do not expect instant gratification. Perhaps you get the CIO of a target customer to retweet some content you shared with them, don’t immediately launch into sales pitch on them. It is important to use social to demonstrate your value and to build engagement to a point where such an interaction is natural. This means nurturing, the words usually used by marketing should also fall into the realms of salespeople, nurturing future pipeline and prospects early. Great to call into the CIO in November cold and get through, a meeting and into an engagement, but how often is that now easy. Start nurturing them in February alongside your immediate sales opportunities. Follow them on social, reach out with relevant content shares on the systems they are on, comment on announcements they post where you have good comment. People notice who shares their content, comments, likes etc – try it yourself – see if you note who views your profile, engages peripherally with you!
Personal brand management, Social selling and experience in how to leverage these is going to continue to become increasingly important and as a differentiator to you personally. If I interview someone in the future who perhaps has searched on myself, figured this out, read articles I have written and comes armed demonstrating proven use of these values over someone who just wings it as a salesperson, who will stand out, who will align best with my goals and with me personally!