Building a salesperson brand on LinkedInApr 28, 2023
What does it mean to build a personal brand for a salesperson? And what activities should you focus on to minimise the time you spend on LinkedIn?
Brand building is becoming an integral part of sales activities today. A common situation in Poland is that Social Selling is equated with cold messages being mass mailed to potential customers. Such an activity is should be called “Cold-LinkedIn-ing” rather than Social Selling. The effectiveness of this type of cold messaging oscillates around 1-2% (which is similar to cold calling). The important thing here is that 98-99% of contacts on LinkedIn will be effectively and efficiently burned … probably forever. Furthermore, such an action does not solve the main problem faced by most salespeople today — the lack of trust in the eyes of customers.
Building a brand on LinkedIn allows salespeople to have a real chance of solving this “trust” problem. By building their image as an expert in the eyes of customers, they begin talking to the customer on a completely different level.
Brand building was once reserved for the few. I often hear salespeople say that a brand is a pompous statement and a large part of the sales force at the beginning of the Social Selling journey does not see any connection to their sales processes. But there is a relationship (or rather there can be).
What activities build a personal brand?
By simplifying the assumptions of a personal brand (as well as setting aside the visual aspects, brand values and other elements that influence its shaping), three pillars of activity that build personal branding become apparent:
1. Public speaking
2. Expert articles in trade magazines
3. Presence on LinkedIn
Looking at the real possibility of building their name, only a small part of salespeople are able to successfully stand on conference stages, conduct independent webinars or write for industry publications. Therefore, LinkedIn has become a place where salespeople can flourish by regularly publishing content and participating in discussions.
WHAT ACTIVITIES AFFECT LINKEDIN PERSONAL BRANDING?
- Complete LinkedIn Profile — customer-oriented (i.e., a profile completed so that it "speaks" to the client, not the employer). You can read an article about it here.
- Regular publications (posts, Linkedin articles, external links) of content that are attractive to our target group and support purchasing processes (i.e., articles, reports, statements, e-books, webinars and others). The role of marketing is to work together with sales to produce content on a regular basis. The content is intended to educate customers, support the transition to the next stage of the purchasing process and build positive feelings about the salesperson as an expert and as a human being.
- Leave Comments in the places that attract people from the target group (e.g., profiles of people from related industries or company profiles of websites that focus the attention of our recipients).
WHAT ARE THE AIMS OF PUBLISHED CONTENT?
- Industry content published by the salesperson portrays them as an active participant in business discussions.
- Marketing content (articles from a company blog, webinars or e-books) allows salespeople to publish frequently and be at the "front of the mind" of customers. Additionally, this is often the content that customers are looking for online, so marketers are able to deliver value in this way.
- Original content (e.g., articles on LinkedIn, posts, participation in the creation of e-books or webinars) allows salespeople to build personal brands and present themselves as an expert.
RECYCLING OF CONTENT
In companies where content-based marketing activities are used, salespeople have an easier task. They don't have to create content from scratch. They can simply publish the content on their profile or convert other formats into content to publish (e.g., a webinar can be converted into a series of posts or an article on LinkedIn). Additionally, I recommend that salespeople take an active part in creating content for the company blog. This allows the same content to be processed and published on LinkedIn profiles.
Commenting on other people's publications is an important part of building a brand on LinkedIn. By commenting, salespeople:
- Support their visibility in the eyes of the network of contacts;
- Present their knowledge and opinions on various topics and give a "human face” to the post;
- Publicly appreciate the publications of others and thus build a "community" around them (which will in some way be repaid in kind in the future);
- Make their personal headlines visible (i.e., the titles with which we want to be associated).
Each time we leave a comment under a publication, our headline is visible (thus presenting the terms with which we want to be associated).
WHAT PUBLICATIONS TO COMMENT ON?
In commenting strategies, it is important to focus on publications that can help the salesperson build a personal brand. There are three types of publications that are worth leaving comments on and two types of profiles that are also worth commenting on in addition to following.
GROUP 1. Company and Personal Profiles of Customers
Company profiles. It is worth adding all company profiles of our clients (Farmers) and potential clients (Hunters) to the observed profiles (allowing us to have access to published content). Publications from the company profile often contain information needed by salespeople to learn about the company. Today's salesperson has to look broadly at the client's business (more about the competencies of a modern salesperson here) and being up-to-date with publications is an effective way of gaining knowledge about the business. Moreover, salespeople have the opportunity to join the discussion under the publication (which is an element of building relationships with the company on the web).
Personal profiles. It is worth adding or inviting our customers (Farmers) and potential customers (Hunters) to the observed network because salespeople will then have access to the content they publish and can join discussions under the publications on an ongoing basis (which is an element of building and extending relationships in the world of LinkedIn).
GROUP 2. Company and Personal Profiles of Related Groups
Related groups are companies or people that sell to and communicate with the same target group. Appearing in the comments section of such a place makes them visible to the target group.
Company Profiles - It is worth adding company profiles of related groups to the observed profiles. For example, If you are a salesperson from the IT industry, company profiles of telecoms, IT systems or print suppliers are valuable.
Personal Profiles - The situation is similar to the above. The only difference is that we not only add profiles to the observed ones but also invite them to the sales network (e.g., telecoms or IT system suppliers). In my experience, salespeople often migrate between companies while remaining in the same industry. It is essential to check which industry colleagues we do not yet have in the network and make up for it by inviting them to the network of contacts on LinkedIn.
GROUP 3. Profiles of Industry Portals and Communities as well as Personal Profiles of Industry Influencers
Company Profiles — Examples include profiles from the IT industry (IT Reseller, iTWIZ, Computerworld) or company profiles from the IT community (i.e., CIONET Polska).
Personal Profiles — Examples include profiles of influencers from the IT industry, specifically in the area of Clouds.
BRAND BUILDING IS A PROCESS
You can't build a brand with just one post or article. Publishing content should be included in the regular activities of salespeople (permanent and habitual — not disposable). This is an effective Social Selling activity.
THE SOIL MUST BE FERTILE — TARGET GROUPS IN THE NETWORK
Publishing without regularly building a network of our target audience is like sowing in infertile soil. We must be aware that publications overwhelmingly reach the first circle of our contacts (i.e., those we have on the web). Expecting to publish a post that potential customers will see without having them online is either unrealistic or very limited.
Today, content is one of the most effective tools for salespeople (although it is often underestimated). Content gives the salesperson the opportunity to influence their image in the eyes of customers by building a brand and thus solving the main problem that salespeople have to deal with — gaining trust. (read about it here.)
In the next and last article in this series, I will describe which Social Selling strategies can be used by salespeople to involve LinkedIn in the sales process.
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