This is the first in a multi-part series on how sales professionals can learn ways to create content, grow visibility and become a thought leader in their industry. A lot of people tell you to do this, but the difference here is that we'll share with you what we have done, and what others in sales have done to build an online platform. It takes time and investment, just as exhibiting at trade shows does. Online visibility for you in your industry is the new trade show. The best part is that this online trade show promoting you as a thought leader runs 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
As a seller you are always looking for ways to stand out and differentiate. Creating content and building your own personal brand online is the best way to do this now because it is simple (not easy) and there are some great examples of sellers doing this in the last couple of years.
For business-to-business (B2B) sales professionals, think about making human-to-human connections online. Bryan Kramer wrote a great post about this H2H concept recently that is worth a read. Your buyers are people, not companies. Think of them this way.
Determine how you will create your foundation. A blog is the solid foundation we've built our business on. To build a blog, begin with questions that buyers are always asking you. Next time someone emails in a question, or asks one over the phone, or in person, jot that down on a list of blog topics. This is your starting point.
One reason this is such a strong idea for you is because buyers are going online every day looking for answers. If someone asks you a question about the products or services you sell, chances are others have the same questions. Blogging, therefore becomes answering customer and prospect questions - something that you are doing anyway. Now instead of replying to a general e-mailed question, you can create a blog post and send the link to the post to the person who emailed the question to you. Once you get good at this, you can create one of these a day - or at least three per week.
Look for others in your industry who are writing regular content and post a comment periodically to share your viewpoint. Influential bloggers get higher readership, so there is a good chance that your well-thought-out comment could be seen by dozens, even hundreds or more. Reading others' blogs in your industry helps you to see what is out there, and what is being talked about.
Check out How to Start a Successful Blog Today over at the Minimalists site - it is current and they offer some great step-by-step ideas, even video to help one begin. We don't know these guys, but like how they laid out the steps.
To give you a bigger picture idea of what we do, we now think of "publishing" as a part of the marketing of our B2B services company. It's not something we do in our spare time, it is what we do regularly - even with a busy client project schedule. Over time some things have worked better than others and some social platforms and communities have worked better for us, we focus on these areas of content creation:
Content (other content, such as video, audio and webinars)
There are other social platforms we are working on but they are not well developed. You have to focus on where your buyers are, and use the tools that you don't mind using - or even enjoy. I really like Twitter and I know that we gain new clients regularly from the combination of the use of LinkedIn, Twitter, and our blog.
Creating content is a mindset that helps build your business foundation. More on the other tools next. In the meantime, post your thoughts, your successes, and challenges in building your brand online.
Lori Richardson is recognized on Forbes as one of the "Top 30 Social Sales Influencers" worldwide. Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside sales teams in mid-sized companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the "Sales Ideas In A Minute" newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips in selling. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.