In an earlier post I discussed why sales professionals need to build a strong brand. Lately I’ve been reading ‘Never Eat Alone’ by Keith Ferrazzi (review coming soon) and it sparked a couple more thoughts in my mind. Of course, like all personal branding ideas, they’re not just relevant to sales professional – they apply to anyone who is having to market themselves, whether as a potential supplier or potential employee…
The big problem you face – whether you’re in sales, pitching ideas, or wanting to get hired – is getting in front of the right person.
Think about it from your target’s point of view. The chances are they get a couple of hundred letters, emails and phone calls a day from people who want ‘just a few minutes’ of their time to discuss how they could ‘add value’ to them or their organisation.
Most of those contacts will be blocked by the gatekeeper, the rest will need to be weighed up by the executive you want to see. So even if you can get past the gatekeeper, you’re just another nameless, faceless, petitioner asking for admission to the inner circle. Even if you have a big corporate brand behind you, so will most of the other people in that pile (because the chances are that is one of the criteria the gatekeeper will have applied in sifting the list).
The only way out of the pack is if the reader recognises your name. Not the company’s name; your name: they are deciding whether they want to spend time with you, not with Acme Widgets Ltd. So, you need a name that stands out. A name that people recognise instantly. A name they associate with something they want. I’m sure there’s a word for that kind of thing….
Oh wait, I know: it’s called a BRAND.
You see, one of the big misconceptions about branding – corporate or personal – is that it’s about convincing someone to buy. That’s partly true, but people will only buy a brand once they know and trust it. 80% (at least) of the branding process is preliminary work. It’s about setting the scene, laying the groundwork and building the trust and recognition that will get you a slot in the diary. In other words, it’s about getting the potential buyer to consider your brand in the first place. And that means getting your name in front of them long before you come calling. It means getting people they already know, like and trust to talk about you.
In these time-starved days, no matter how good your company, no matter how advanced your product, if people don’t know who YOU are, they are much less likely to give you their precious time.