The sales profession has always carried a stigma and this has normally been nurtured by sectors that are driven by the hard realities of selling by the numbers: Double Glazing, Second-Hand Cars, Pensions etc.
I don’t know when I started becoming aware of the birth of the celebrity Sales Guru.
Over time I’ve noticed that the stigma is being fed by some “sales professionals” themselves. Those 10 X merchants that suck you in and promise you a “sure thing” if you sign up.
Those people that you’re fearful to click on a link when their 20-second video appears on your screen promising you the wealth you aspire to or, the free download to the 7-step process to freedom that you covet.
Knowing that if you enter their ecosystem you’ll enter a constant flow of automated emails because there’s a conference seat to sell and you just have to attend to gain your financial freedom.
Personally, I can’t reconcile the “silver bullets” they promise.
I’m sure that I would have come across those silver bullets during my time in the sales arena. I’m sure I would have found them, believe me, I looked.
It doesn’t stop with the promises, does it?
It carries on with those inspiring images. Dare I say the photoshopping of a sales trainer talking to an auditorium of thousands like they’ve just sold out Wembley stadium?
Posting some sponsored ad on Facebook and flooding your social feed as you’re their target market – aren’t you hmm 🤔
Don’t get me wrong some do fill venues but the majority of us sales trainers don’t.
It’s easy these days to photoshop in a crowd and it’s even easier to take a snap next to a plane on an airfield with our thumbs up, creating the illusion that if you join their inner circles you’ll also own a Learjet 60 XR.
The promise is that if you join them, you’ll be able to throw away your shackles if you adopt what they are just about to pitch to you.
Sales Gurus – We can learn from them.
Am I jealous, can I learn from them?
You know I can’t knock some of the processes they finesse, the emotions they create, the automation they deploy and the creativity they bring, but, it just doesn’t sit with me when I’m looking to break down the stigma that many of us associate with selling.
I applaud the energy, the momentum, the resilience and the commitment to make it work are obviously attributes they have and these are important in any profile of attributes to succeed in sales.
It’s most certainly not what we mean when I talk about becoming a “leading voice” in your industry, sector or network.
What do we mean by a Leading Voice?
Is being a leader and leading voice the same thing?
To me, a leader is someone who guides a group of people or an organisation. A leading voice is someone that has a group of people following them.
It doesn’t sound like much difference but what if I told you that you could be a leading voice?
For example, a business coach who does not lead any organisation but at the same time is the go-to person for business advice.
I would suggest that becoming a leading voice in your industry is an aspiration to have.
It confers benefits with it such as deepening your knowledge, opening new opportunities, collaboration, lead generation and ultimately sales growth.
The key to me is that being a leading voice can be modest and personal. It doesn’t need to be brash and create a celebrity out of you 😉
It should however be deliberate and focused. Organically bringing you personal opportunities and of course sales opportunities.
It’s about being consistent and purposeful in your messaging. Being recognised that you stand for something, that you have a voice and an insight to share around a topic.
One chapter in our B2B core sales methodology is Know, Like Trust…aka being a Leading Voice.
Enquire about our sales training here 👉🏼 https://plangrowdo.com/plan-grow-do-live-interest/
How to become a Leading Voice
Top tip #1: Have an opinion.
Getting people to listen to you and be interested in what you say happens when you have a voice. This voice has to be yours: your opinions, your thoughts, your passion. These are necessary ingredients for defining your voice.
Start with your passion in industry e.g. latest technology and think through what your opinion is on the opportunities and challenges it poses.
Once you have an opinion on something that you are passionate about it becomes more natural to talk about this.
Top tip #2: Define your audience.
Understand the characteristics of your audience. Where are they? Who are they? What do they care about?
Knowing what your audience is interested in and what they want to know more about is a great way to boost your own skills.
It helps you to shape your knowledge, stay up-to-date with current events and continually re-assess your voice.
Top tip #3: Publish content online.
Some people have a natural affinity for getting up and speaking to a room of 20-30 people.
Other people find it intimidating and that is okay. Being a leading voice is about having something worthwhile to say and offering help and insight.
If speaking at a public event is not something you feel naturally comfortable with then begin by publishing content online.
This can be as small as tweeting relevant news and insight, to writing posts on LinkedIn and Facebook, or writing long-form blogs or articles on your own website.
Top tip #4: Attend networks and offer to do speaking events.
If you have been publishing content online and you have become more confident in your own voice then the next step up is to attend networks, introduce yourself to others and offer advice and suggestions when asked about something related to your industry.
The more networks you attend the more people that will get to know you. However, if you only feel comfortable attending smaller events with 10-12 people that is still a way to become a leading voice.
If what you have to say is powerful, and each one of those people in the room tells 11 people then that’s over 100 people that hear your name in relation to your industry.
The next step up from this is to offer to do speaking events, a lot of the time at networks they have guest speakers or key speakers and each time the specialism varies.
Be prepared, make notes, stay current, and absorb information and news relating to your industry.
Top tip #5: Keep up-to-date with your knowledge and understanding.
For all of the above to work successfully you need to consider it a repeating cycle.
The more you know about your subject the more you will get asked for insight and opinion, and the more you get asked for opinion the more you will know.
Use social media, white papers, news articles, blogs, etc to stay up-to-date with relevant opportunities and challenges in your industry.
Inform and educate yourself on what these can offer you or your clients. Offer advice and suggestions to others if you know a current improvement that can benefit them or their business.
Time to step up and be deliberate!
Being a leading voice in your industry will help with lead generation and sales.
Your knowledge and understanding of the subject matter will make it likely that people call on you for advice and recommend you to others looking for help.
Becoming a leading voice isn’t something that happens overnight, and it does take time for your name to come up in conversations, but this doesn’t happen automatically.
You have to begin by publishing content and attending speaking events, no matter the size.
The most important thing is you have authority on the subject matter by understanding what it is you are trying to say to others and being consistent.