A day-in-the-life of a sales pro is consumed with making calls, generating and nurturing leads, developing and delivering proposals, negotiating offers, and of course closing deals. From the get-go, sales professionals must be success-oriented and driven. It’s likely what draws you to this role.
This also means that, as a sales professional, you may be on your own a lot. No matter where you are within your sales career, it’s important to embrace a “self-leadership” role.
Few organizations offer leadership development training for those in the sales field. Fortunately, there are steps you can take that can make a big difference.
First, let’s paint a picture of your leadership identity. It…
- Is your presence in your work and in the world. This is about your physical and mental presence, your attitude and readiness to take on new challenges and make an impact. It’s how you “show up” every day and for every interaction, and the impression you make. Do you show up for sales calls looking the part of a leader, acting the part of a leader, and with the attitude of a leader? Your prospects feel more comfortable with someone who presents himself or herself as a proven pro. Are you ready for the next opportunity when it arrives?
- Drives your decisions toward big-picture leadership goals. Think about your big-picture leadership goal—whether that means staying in the field, or elevating to a sales leadership or other management role. Now compare the mindset and decisions of the person you are today to that of the person you will become. If you’re like most, there’s a gap; your mindset and decisions need to become consistent with where you want to be, versus where you are today. It’s like the old saying goes, what got you here won’t get you there.
- Reflects your values, mindset, actions and responses. This is personal. For example, it might be health and wellness. If it’s important to you, that value, along with the mindset, actions, and responses that go with it, should be exemplified in your leadership identity – from your energy in front of the room, to your attitude, to your creativity levels, to your overall presence. In sales, those traits make a difference.
Your Brand Distinguishes You from the Crowd
Consider the habits needed to cultivate self-leaders and stand out in the sales field. One of the primary building blocks of leadership identity is your leadership brand.
There are literally millions of sales professionals in the world. You need to ensure that you’re one that your customers and prospects know, remember, respect and trust.
Branding and marketing yourself describes how you choose to project what is unique and genuine about you. It’s how you actively promote your brand to your customers and within your organization and industry. The word choose is intentional, because it is your choice to actively design and build awareness for your personal brand– or passively allow others to do it for you.
Choose to be intentional! Your brand and how you cultivate awareness of it can determine your sales success today, as well as your future leadership opportunities.
Doing so involves two important tenants that are the hallmarks of significant brands– consistent quality and consistent awareness. In fact, if you examine the brands you are most loyal to, they likely have both in spades. Let’s apply them on the individual level.
Consistent quality drives you to create the best product possible (you being the product). Factors include:
- talents and skills
- unique expertise
- overall presence
Consistent awareness is where the big leap frequently comes into play. It’s awkward for most people to actively keep themselves top of mind in their industries and organizations. But the fact is that quality work is only the starting point. You have to adopt the mindset and actions of consistent awareness.
If you picture the most successful salespeople you know, chances are they are actively building their thought leadership and expertise. This is especially necessary when the product being sold is commoditized, and deals often come down to price. A self-driven leader will deliver added value, and create his or her special niche.
Here are some concrete ways you can create awareness of your leadership brand. Keep in mind the things you are naturally good at and enjoy. That will help you consistently deliver on creating awareness for your leadership brand.
- Write articles for an industry association or trade publication.
- Join or lead a relevant group on LinkedIn.
- Present research or a topic within your areas of expertise at an industry event, seminar, or conference.
- Ask your clients to provide feedback on your work, and forward positive feedback to your leadership. For critical feedback, find ways to improve the client experience and share those improvements with leadership.
- Elevate your networking by developing relationships with leaders in your own organization, peers outside your organization, and industry thought leaders.
Challenge yourself to put one of these actions into play in the next 30 days. See how it ultimately benefits the bottom line.
Amy Franko is the founder and president of Impact Instruction Group.