When we think of branding, we mostly think of corporate brands or product brands. We've learned that brands have a value that can be measured. According to the rankings of the top global brands, whether rated by Interbrand, Millward Brown or Forbes, Apple is the current number one and worth a 3-digit billion dollar figure. But what does that have to do with us sales professionals?
A lot. In fact, your personal brand is just as vital to your success as the way you represent your company's brand or product brand.
Live Your Brand
Position yourself as a brand, and make sure you look like one, too. After all, when you go after the money of others, you have to look like money. I always wear a suit with a tie and have a handkerchief in my breast pocket when I'm on stage or with a client. My clients will only trust me to bring them success, if I look successful myself. I wear cufflinks with my logo on them. I also have a custom lighted Martin Limbeck logo on the door step of my Porsche. I know some people think that's crazy, but I tell them, “You have to live your brand to be a brand.”
Your clients feel if you need to close the deal or if you want to close the deal. And if they feel that you need to close the deal, then they will negotiate the price. But if they see that you want to close the deal, then that puts you in the driver's seat.
Pay Attention to Detail
Take my stationery, for example, it's part of my branding. My letterhead, my envelopes, my business cards are all printed on premium, heavy-weight paper. My logo is embossed on my letterhead with a metallic silver coating. It's expensive, but it's worth it. What do my customers know the moment they touch my letterhead? They don't know my fee yet, but they already know, “He's expensive.” And that's good, they should know that right from the start.
Even if you don't design your company's stationery, you should still pay attention to detail: How do you present your materials? What pen do you use? What do your proposals look like?
Don't Be Afraid to Get Pigeonholed
Nobody is particularly surprised to see Nike shoes with the Nike logo. Every other Harley-Davidson rider also has a Harley tattoo under their leather jacket. But when I happen to have my logo on my cufflinks or on the door step of my car, people put me in a pigeonhole: “Limbeck, the self-made man who never got anything the easy way, who had to work hard for everything he has, and who is never at a loss for words. The sales authority, who loves the fast lane, impeccable suits, and exquisite cars.” But what people don't see is that this same Limbeck is also comfortable to ride in a diesel-engine family minivan to unwind and socialise. The same Limbeck likes to sit outdoors for hours on end at a fishing lake and keep his mouth shut, throw a steak on the grill if the fishing didn’t go so well, and savour a cold beer as the sun sets.
If it helps people to put me in a pigeonhole, then that’s OK with me, as long as they engrave my name on it – and don’t forget that I gave a good seminar. If you have considerable control over the pigeonhole with which your client has identified you – in other words, if you are a brand that is infused with a wealth of positive qualities – then the mutual esteem between you and your client will be established much more quickly and will multiply your chances for success.
Personal Branding in a Nutshell
Whether a customer realises it or not, a brand that is successful and uniquely identifiable also works on a subliminal level. There are no purely rational decisions. Even seemingly rational decisions are driven by the subconscious and hence the emotional. That is why it is so crucial for a top sales professional to know exactly what he stands for in order to forge an emotional bond with the customer.
Your branding, i.e. the way you look and the way you are seen by others, is vital to your success. It's just like what professional drivers recommend when you're on the road: Always drive with your headlights on. Be seen, be noticed. It makes all the difference.
By Martin Limbeck, international sales authority and sought-after keynote speaker, dubbed 'The Porsche of Sales.' With his best-in-class German Sales Engineering approach, he helps sales professionals seal more deals. Martin has trained and inspired audiences in twenty-one countries for more than twenty years. The Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) has been honoured as Top Speaker of the Year 2014, International Speaker of the Year 2012, and Trainer of the Year 2011 and 2008. He teaches at Reutlingen European School of Business, Steinbeis University Berlin, and St. Gallen University, and is the author of several bestsellers, including NO Is Short for Next Opportunity: How Top Sales Professionals Think.