Professional Character: Define it for Today’s BuyerArticle by Colleen Francis, February 6, 2022
Are you being intentional in how you define your professional character?
So far in this series that looks at the four big, cold-hard facts that are radically reshaping the sales landscape today, I’ve talked about time-based branding and why it’s so important that you embrace it. Now, it’s time to look at the second big one: your character.
Managing it as a sales professional doesn’t work the way it used to. Sellers used to get away with behaving as though they were the human equivalent of the Sears Catalogue: just sitting there on a shelf, waiting to perform.
Today’s buyer sees you long before you see them. That means they begin to shape their own impressions about you…well before you’re even aware of it. Much of that is happening online. And since this is going to occur whether or not you want it to, you must take charge of your character and how you’re seen by others.
In other words: define or be defined.
Let’s look at three Right on The Money actions you must engage so that you’re always defining your professional character both as a skilled seller and valued resource…and doing so on your terms.
3 Actions for Defining Your Professional Character
1. Always Be Framing the Conversation
Every communication you have with your customers has important value. And it’s crucial that you frame every one of those conversations. Recognize also that, as a seller, you’re doing this while keeping up with a deluge of information daily. So, you must do more than just simply participate in having an idle chat with others. Take control. Be selective. And provide your buyer with high-value content across a variety of platforms.
For example, a client of mine in the supply-chain management business is backed by an amazing team of subject matter experts. Wisely recognizing this as a powerful differentiator in their field, the client now integrates all their valuable insight into every communication and social post—featuring speeches, white papers, slides and more. It was an overnight hit with their community of prospects. Why? Because all their conversations are now instantly recognized as being about deep expertise and insight, not about empty pitches.
2. Embrace Ubiquity
Buyers won’t buy from strangers anymore. Instead, they turn to the salesperson or company they already know and trust. Or they seek referrals from their community. The more a prospect sees and hears from you in their community of influence, the more familiar you become. And the more likely you are to earn their business. Just like with the example I cited above, you must create a magnetic environment in which people are drawn to you because of what they keep reading about you online.
Together, high-value information plus ubiquity sells! Ubiquity requires three elements to be successful. First, diversity of platforms. Second, diversity of content. And third, relevance to your market. Success comes from balance here. Those who fail often focus on one, but neglect the others.
3. Think Differently About Time
Whether or not you’ve been working from home since 2020, the daily cycle of work has been radically changed in just about every sector of the marketplace. Things are far less 9-to-5 now than they used to be. Plenty of us are realizing that online meetings are just as effective—often even more so—at maintaining client relationships in far less time. An important (and often overlooked) outcome of this shift is that downtime is now spread out more rather than being clustered daily. Use this to your advantage. Leverage one or two of those multiple downtimes to connect with clients.
I have a client in the commercial leasing sector who consistently ranks as one of the top-three performers in her company. Her secret: she realized many of her clients were now doing research during what was traditionally thought of as “off-hours” (i.e., after 8PM). So, she carved out 15 minutes nightly to respond to messages and share insights. She did this just a few moments before or after dinner and after the kids have gone to bed.
As you can see in this series so far, being Right on the Money is all about recognizing how much has been changing in the sales landscape and adapting to the new way of doing business. The global pandemic didn’t start this shift, but it definitely accelerated it. Accept, adapt and prosper. Next up: we’re going to look at item #3 in the list of cold, hard facts about today’s changed marketplace: Influence is everything and everywhere now.