The first time I received a call from a salesperson, I did what any logical person would do these days: I googled that person. Unfortunately, I found absolutely nothing about him. Yes, he had a LinkedIn account, but he didn’t have a lot of info in it except for where he had worked and when. He wasn’t on Twitter either. And I did not find a single piece of blog post or article that he has written.
Because I wasn’t able to establish his credibility, I wasn’t receptive to his pitch. “This dude just wants my money,” I told myself. I made a lame excuse about being late for another meeting, and I (politely but firmly) told him I had to go.
More than ever, sales reps need to establish their credibility online. Not only because your leads will most likely google you the first time you contact them, but also because of the changing way by which companies (and their employees) buy products and services today.
According to CEB, an insight and technology company, prospects are already 57% through in the buying process when they contact a sales pro for more info. As a salesperson, that stat should scare you. Thanks to this thing called the Internet, buyers today are doing research about your products and services before they even pick up the phone (or more likely, send you an email). Sales reps are brought in later in the process—they’re entering the conversation when the buyer already has a firm opinion on what your company has to offer and how you can help solve their problems.
If a lead recognizes a need for your product or service, it’s unlikely that her first instinct would be to give your company a call. Instead, she’ll likely go online and read some news about your brand. If you’re lucky and your company does content marketing well, she might even consume one of your ebooks or whitepapers. She might visit your blog. Once she’s already built a picture of what your company has to offer, she might then contact you to ask about pricing and other details about your product.
Now imagine how awesome it would be if this lead stumbles upon you while she’s doing her research. How easier would it be to sell to her if she already sees you as an expert before the sales process even starts? She’ll be receptive to what you have to say. And when you send her product info sheets, testimonials or other content pieces, she might be more open to your messages—because she knows what you know what you’re talking about. You’ll be less likely to chase dead sales leads.
Salespeople are experts in selling their company’s products and services; they have to bring that same expertise to building their brand online. In an era when buyers and prospects have so much information about brands, your livelihood as a sales person today rests on your ability to create a credible, authentic and believable reputation both offline and online.