CRM, SALES 2.0, SOCIAL MEDIA

Turn Yourself into a Trusted Brand
Alison Smith

To gain a competitive edge, many sales reps are taking steps to become the go-to expert for their customers and prospects. How? It's all about making yourself visible and sharing your expertise online through the creation of a personal Website, blog, and articles.

"Building your personal brand, developing your expertise, and telling the world about both takes some effort on your part, but the payoff is tremendous," says Dave Lakhani, author of How to Sell When Nobody's Buying. "This is a short-term effort that will lead to very long-term gain."

Don't think you need to do this? Take this test: Go right now to Google and type in your name. What comes back? If the top 10 results don't include you, your LinkedIn profile, and testimonials from customers who are thrilled with what you did for them, "you need look no further to understand why customers are not buying from you," says Lakhani. "The most credible people can be found in a search."

To propel yourself to the top of your industry, take the following five steps, says Lakhani.

Create a Website. Go to www.weebly.com and set up a free account. You're going to set up your Website and blog here - and you don't need any technical skills to do it. It's just drag and drop and you'll be done in an hour. Once your Website is set up, Lakhani says you should include the following information on it:
  • Professional bio. Sketch out who you are, your education, work experience, some thoughts on the industry you are working in and something personal, such as a hobby.

  • Testimonials. Create a link called, "What My Clients Say" that includes quotes and video of customers saying what an amazing job you did for them.

  • Client list. Link to a list of all the companies you've sold to. People like buying from people who already have experience with others like them.

  • "Contact me" link. At the top of your home page, include a link with all your contact info, including your office phone number, cell phone number, email address, mailing address, fax number, and so on.


Start blogging. This is your online diary, where you write about what's going on in your industry, the problems your customers are having, and how you can help solve them. For the next 90 days, write at least three blog posts per week on issues relevant to your industry and customers. Don't make the entries too long - just long enough to tell your story or discuss the problem and offer some insight. Include a photo where you can. You'll be amazed at the viral effect a blog can have. Just make sure you keep your blogs entirely professional. No bashing your company, the competition, or the boss. Your blog is all about creating business - and the way to do that is to keep it on the high road at all times.

Host an online event. One of the fastest ways to become a resource in your industry is to teach people something they need to know. Podcasts and Webinars are two of the best ways to bring your expertise to potential clients. Just be absolutely sure your presentation is not a sales pitch, but is focused on helping customers with a pressing industry issue.

Write articles and distribute them online. Write some 1,000-word articles sharing your insights on different issues and post them online at www.ezine.com. Then submit them to your industry trade journals and blogs. "Published articles give you strong credibility and increase lead flow," says Lakhani.

Create white papers. Like articles, white papers give you expert status and increased visibility. Pick a significant problem for which you can provide the best solution and write about it. Post the paper on your Website. If the topic is timely and pressing, you'll be amazed at the number of people who find their way to the paper - and who then become high-quality leads for you.

If you're worried your company won't let you do all this, don't be, says Lakhani. "I have yet to see a company policy that says you can't have a Website about yourself online," he says. Policy may dictate what you can say about the company, but that's fine. The important thing here is to just do it. "Your potential clients will buy from the person they see as the most visible and having the most expertise in any given market," Lakhani points out. When you take the steps outlined above, that person will be you.



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