Most people buy proven brands. As a sales professional, you are the brand. In addition, your company is also the brand…and in most cases a person is buying you first and your company second. Prospects do not buy because of how good you are at what you do…they really buy because of how good you are at who you are.
If a prospect does not trust you and you do not project an honest image, they will probably not have a good image of your company either. Someone once said, “image is everything.” While that might be a little too “Madison Avenue,” as professional salespeople we have an obligation to generate a good image quickly.
If you create a poor image initially, the prospect will shut down and try to end your sales presentation as quickly as possible because they have already decided they do not want to do business with you. Of course, the opposite is true. If you create a good impression initially, the prospect will be more likely to listen to you and consider buying from you. In other words, prospects hear what they see…they trust their eyes before they trust their ears.
How do you create a good first impression when making a sales call? There are two major components of creating a good image: appearance and body language.
Not everyone has the looks of a Hollywood movie star but that is not necessary. In making sales you don’t have to look like a movie star but you have to project and convey a professional image in your appearance. Here are some good tips for creating a professional image as a sales leader.
- Wear a jacket when meeting a client or prospect
- Carry a high quality leather briefcase or portfolio to your meeting
- The power colors in business are dark neutral colors like black, charcoal, gray, navy, and dark brown. These traditional business colors communicate professionalism and competence. A sales professional always has his or her traditional suit jacket, dress, slacks, and skirts in these dark neutral tones
- The second element in creating a good image is your body language. Psychologists tell us that up to 80% of what we communicate is really through our body language.
- As professional salespeople we should also be able to read a person’s body language to decide how the prospect is responding to our presentation.
What makes you and your company strong is not initially the products or services but the image that you project in the customer’s mind, because we all buy from a state of mind. In order to get the best positioning in the customer’s mind you need to project the image of being a specialist or a subject matter expert. The business world is very competitive and your prospects will buy more from a specialist than from someone who appears to be all things to all people. If you position yourself as a subject matter expert in the prospect’s mind, you are more likely to win the sale. The application of your knowledge is the power to solve a person’s problem, often leading to a sale.
As a sales professional building your personal brand, you will need to be a specialist in three key areas. First, you need to become a specialist in your company’s products and services. The most important point here is that you need to communicate the benefits, not features, of what you are selling and how they will help the prospect solve their problems. Do not make the mistake of “information dumping”…thinking that the more information you give, the better your presentation will be. Your prospect will get bored and really stop listening to you. Information overload is not effective in selling…it’s really boring.
The second key area in building your personal brand as a specialist is to be an expert in the industry in which you are selling. For example, if you are selling specialized software solutions to the legal industry, become knowledgeable about certain aspects of the legal industry. When you are meeting with an attorney you can have an intelligent conversation about their business, representing a better position in the prospect’s mind for you as a professional and a trusted advisor. You will be viewed as an industry specialist and not just a salesperson.
Another method of building your personal brand is to know about your major competitors and most importantly, why your company is better. The key here is not to criticize your competitors and to acknowledge that they are good companies but be able to explain why your company is better. Again, you will be viewed as a specialist in your industry and will be helping position yourself as the best in that industry.
In order to take the edge off of your sales calls you need to develop rapport with your prospect. The better rapport you create with your prospect the better your communication will be in creating an element of persuasion. Good rapport helps to build your personal brand.
There are a number of proven ways you can create rapport with your prospect in order to develop your own personal brand. First, you need the prospect to feel comfortable and eliminate the feeling that you are just there to try to sell them something. Unfortunately, in many sales situations, the atmosphere can be adversarial—you against them—not a good way to sell.
You can make your prospect feel comfortable in a number of ways. You should be relaxed, confident, and conversational. Good sales presentations are conversational and not a lecture. If you appear to be relaxed, your prospect will also become relaxed and the quality of your communication will increase and develop into a better relationship with your prospect.
Dale Carnegie said that you can create more friends in two weeks by getting them to talk about themselves, than you can in two years talking about yourself. The key here is to get them to talk about themselves and not talk about you. You can do this by asking good, open-ended questions such as…How did you get into this business? What are your business goals, etc. When you show sincere interest in the other person and really listen to them, they will like you. If they like you, you are in the process of building your personal brand, which will enhance your chances of winning new sales.
Another way to create rapport with your prospect is to create a bond—something that you both have in common. Again, to find this common bond you have to ask questions. For example, you may ask where they grew up, went to college, etc. Or if you are in someone’s office and you notice they have golf pictures on the wall, you may ask where they play golf or if they played in any tournaments recently? If someone really likes golf and they are good at it, they will love to talk about it and then if you play golf too you can share your experiences. You have just created a bond with your prospect…chemistry is created.
Building your personal brand is an ongoing experience that you can improve on a consistent basis because people buy from people they like and it’s up to you to build a strong personal brand…and people buy brands.