What do these fire service companies have in common MSA, Scott, Globe, Hurst, Pierce?
A Powerful Brand
As salespeople we will never have the marketing resources to build an enormous brand image like the companies listed above, but it is vital that all salespeople develop their own personal brand.
Salespeople must develop and build their personal brand to be successful.
Why is this so important? Because if you don’t, you’re just like everyone else.
I can’t think of an industry in which this is as important as fire equipment sales. Everyday you walk into chief’s offices and you see your competition’s business cards and catalogs on their desks. How often do you run into the competition calling on the same department you are calling on? Do you want to be just like them, look like them, be remembered just like them?
How to create a strong personal brand?
If you think that “I’m with XYZ Fire Equipment” is going to cut it in today’s world, forget it. In today’s internet driven world the fact that your company has been around since fire was invented, or that you carry “the top lines” means little if any to most buyers. These factors provide little or no differentiation between many dealers.
People buy from people, not companies. They buy from people they like, people like themselves, people they trust. Most importantly, people that add value to the relationship. So how do you add value to your relationship with your clients? I’m glad you asked.
1) Bring them new products and ideas. Everyone loves a new toy, especially if it makes their life/job safer and easier.
2) Provide knowledge beyond your own products. You’re expected to be an expert on your own lines, but to be of value to your customers you’ve got to be able to speak to how and when the products are used. Become a “clearinghouse” for information. Develop your network so that you refer your customers to subject matter experts outside your own areas of expertise.
You might be able to wax poetically about the fabrics and types of thread used in the turnout that you sell, but being able to help the PPA committee understand the latest NFPA regs will paint you in the light of being an “expert”.
3) Build your online presence…..NOW. Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, blogs, websites, etc. This is where your customers are online, if you’re not, you’re missing the boat. I’ll bet you that one of your competitors is. You don’t need to have a webpage, (you can, there are many free services out there that will help you lay one out.) Start out with Facebook or LinkedIn page and go from there. The main thing to remember is that you have to give people a reason to visit you (see above), update your posts frequently. Once you lose the momentum of people coming to your page to see what’s new, it’s hard to get it back.
4) Be Creative. Do things the completion doesn’t; Hold an open house with live demos of equipment, serve lunch. Email out a quarterly newsletter with new product highlights, offer to schedule demos with factory reps. Offer to provide technical assistance with equipment during trainings.
By leveraging your personal brand you position yourself as an expert.
I think that Jeffery Gitomer says it best “Personal branding is sales. It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.”