People pay attention to sales professionals whom they believe have something important to say. I call it the magic of positioning. How you, your product and your company are positioned all have direct bearing on how successfully (or unsuccessfully) your personal sales career will progress.
Not long ago, I was invited to speak on the topic "How to Sell at Margins Higher Than Your Competitors." When I arrived at the hotel it was very crowded and bustling. I was just another person in a crowd of hundreds, trying to get to my contact and the right room.
I gave my presentation to a very engaging crowd who asked a lot of great questions about their sales staffs and their particular circumstances. After the presentation, I was given a very nice ovation and for the next 30 minutes I had a line of people waiting to speak to me and exchange business cards.
I was the same guy who, only 2 hours before, had walked through the crowded hotel in relative obscurity. The point: my presentation repositioned me in the eyes of everyone in attendance. I went from being seen as part of the crowd to being viewed as a knowledgeable resource in a relatively short amount of time.
You need to understand how to position yourself (or reposition yourself) in the eyes of your customers and prospects so you're not seen as 'just another salesperson' in a crowd of competitors. Perception is everything. Do you want to be perceived by your customers and prospects as:
- An expert?
- A resource?
- A trusted advisor?
- An ally?
- A consultant?
- A problem solver?
- An industry celebrity?
One thing is clear; it is far better to be positioned above your competition - or at least differentiated from your competition - than it is to be one more 'salesperson' in the midst of all the competition talking to your prospects or customers.
Once you have made that determination, following the next three tips will help you achieve the status you desire:
1. Examine your career and your competition, and determine how to set yourself apart.
Define your uniqueness. Emphasize the characteristics that will clearly define you as the "only," the "first" or the "best" to deliver what you sell. For example, the Ritz Carlton is positioned as the ultimate in outstanding customer service. Which elements of your service or product benefits might cause your customers to say "You make it so easy to work with you," or "There is not even a close second."
2. Develop a strategy that will help define who you are and how you are different.
My presentation helped to differentiate me from the crowd and, in many ways, created a persona that was memorable to the point where I have earned several new clients (and referrals to their clients and business acquaintances as well). Some effective activities you can use to differentiate yourself include:
- Writing an article for an industry trade publication
- Speaking at a trade show on a topic of interest to the attendees
- Putting out your own monthly electronic newsletter
- Getting on the Board of Directors of an industry association
- Creating your own website and daily blog to build a customer community
3. Work hard to live, breathe, act and be the person you have decided to become.
This persona will then define how you are perceived by your customers and prospects. For example, I gave many talks to local civic organizations and groups to practice my ability to speak to a group before I ventured into customer presentations. I engaged several experts and peers to critique my presentations and give me constructive criticism to help me improve.
The Power of Personal Positioning is, indeed, an all-too-often overlooked component to successful sales. Give careful consideration to how you want to be positioned in the minds of your customers and then go for it. You'll be astounded at how well you will be received. And remember, the initial impression you give will be the one that establishes or destroys your credibility.
Copyright 2009. The Brooks Group.
The Brooks Group is an international sales training and business growth firm based in Greensboro NC. For more information visit www.thebrooksgroup.com or call 800-633-7762.