Archive | Sales Strategy

B2B, Key Accounts, Referrals, Lead gen, Social Selling etc.

The Brand Triangle – three elements for better lead generation and sales success

What does it take for people to buy our products and services – and why does the brand triangle help us with lead generation and sales conversion?

They are effectively buying a promise that they will receive a benefit. Buyers need to have a lot of trust, especially for larger, complex and mission-critical purchases.

We see that trust is needed at three levels:

  • in the sales advisor – the person helping the buyer to decide,
  • in the product or service – that they are contracting to buy, and
  • in the company or business – that is delivering, supporting and developing the product or service.

Brand Triangle Personal Product Company Wurlwind

Consider this – when you last bought something significant did you need to feel comfortable in all three areas?

And if you chose not to buy something from a supplier was that because you disqualified them in one of these areas?

Putting the customer at the centre of the brand triangle

We’re being advised to “put the customer at the heart of our business”.

And this is especially true here, in this brand triangle model.

More than that, the concentric rings represent suspects, prospects, customers and advocates as we move to the bullseye.

And in our eyes these are defined as:

  • suspects – qualifying contacts – people (and companies) who meet our criteria of ‘ideal clients’, even if they don’t have a need just yet.
  • prospects – qualifying opportunities – people (and companies) who meet our criteria AND they have a need for what we provide
  • customers/clients – people (and companies) who have paid us money in return for our goods and services
  • advocates – customers and business partners who are actively recommending and referring us to other potential buyers

And, if viewed graphically from the side this looks rather like the sales funnel, with suspect at the top of the funnel and advocates at the bottom.

The rise of Personal Branding

Personal branding has been around for many years at the celebrity level, for people in the public eye in film, music, sport, politics etc.

Personal branding for senior professionals, consultants, business owners and others in business is relatively new.

There is admittedly considerable overlap with reputation.

Time was when it took a lot of money and time to create a brand and communicate it, so it was the preserve of larger companies and significant products – ones with sizeable sales and revenue potential.

The Internet and digital channels have broken down the cost barriers allowing individuals to develop and communicate their personal and professional brands in a way that was unthinkable and unreachable even a decade years ago.

In business personal branding rarely exists in isolation, and this article on the brand triangle attempts to clarify the interrelationships in a practical way.

Lead Generation – Engaging with Suspects and Prospects

Lead generation may be a continuous background activity and/or a campaign by campaign specific activity.

Outbound lead generation

In this model this means essentially identifying people who are our ideal clients and reaching out to them with a message that attempts to touch those who are interested.

This might mean advertising, it might be cold-calling. It might be direct mail. and there are many other activities.

We may strike lucky and contact those who are interested (prospects), but there are probably many who are not looking and are merely suspects.

The pitfalls of this are the number of people who are interrupted and who are not looking for what we offer, and the cost of that failure.

Inbound lead generation

The beauty of this is that we are only attracting prospects to contact us – people who are actively looking to solve a problem that we can solve.

We are doing this by understanding what they are looking for, and being in the places where they are going.

This might be (relevant) exhibitions and conferences, website optimisation for SEO value, article marketing, content marketing etc.

The pitfalls are that there are many places our buyers might look, and there’s a big investment especially if we only want a small number of clients.

Three strands to lead generation

To very briefly touch on a huge topic, lead generation can be undertaken by any combination of the three elements, personal, product and company.

For smaller businesses and solopreneurs the individual will be more significant than the product or company level.

  • Personal lead generation – this might be cold calling, seeking introductions, encouraging referrals,
  • Product/service based lead generation – this might be more offer based, with a price promotion for example, or specific SEO type activity
  • Company level lead generation – this is where PR, the website, sponsorship, exhibitions and so on are typical of this level

This highlights the challenge for many solopreneurs and small businesses – developing a marketing strategy – and then executing it effectively.

The brand triangle model can provide ideas about how outbound and inbound are complementary, and evolve over time.

A client of ours had an effective start-up model – the 4 + 40 + 400 strategy. He took a direct sales approach to gain his first 4 clients. He then employed a sales person and together they won the next 40. Then he recruited distribution partners to reach the next 400 clients.


Lead Nurture – the Know, Like and Trust Journey

Much of what we do in sales and marketing is to build up that trust, by going through the Know, Like and Trust progression with prospects.

  • The company visibility and reputation is developed over time, to emphasise that it is a good organisation as a supplier.
  • The products and services are created, updated, communicated, promoted, delivered, to reassure potential buyers of their value.
  • And personal contact continues to guide, advise and steer the buyer (or buyers) through their buying journey.

Again, this is where the brand triangle model is very useful, to check that trust is being established in all 3 areas.

Larger businesses will have marketing departments and product teams responsible for these activities, which will support front-line sales people.

Business owners, solopreneurs, consultants and others running their own business will be responsible for these aspects themselves.


Why does a Personal Brand matter?

Impulse purchases – those that are low cost, low risk – probably are not that influenced by personal brand. Sure, we’d prefer to deal with a friendly shop owner or assistant, but increasingly we’re happy to buy online from an ecommerce website.

Considered purchases however are much more influenced by the person who provides information, advice and who guides us through the purchase decision.

And they may have been our first contact with the proposition, especially if they contacted us, or if we were referred to them by someone.

And, in a wider context, Personal Brand is “what people know about us, and how they feel about us”, based on what they can find out and what they hear from others.

And this is where a positive Personal Brand and also visibility is a huge asset.

1. Our Personal Brand helps us to engage better

The purchase/sales process starts when a buyer engages. And that initial engagement could be in any of these areas – person, product or company.

It could be as a result of outbound lead generation or an inbound enquiry triggered by one of a plethora of activities. If personal brand is minimal then that’s reducing the engagement opportunity by a third.

2. Our Personal Brand helps us build Trust more quickly

When you rapidly moved through the purchase process was it because you were quickly and convincingly taken through the know like and trust progression in all three areas?

And was that because the person leading the sale demonstrated that they, their products and the company were aligned with meeting specific needs you had?

Once they had established trust as a person with you were you more willing to trust what they said about the products and about the company?

They demonstrated that they understood you, and had invested thought, time and probably money to meet the needs that you and others like you have, on a repeatable basis.

3. Our Personal Brand makes us more memorable

It may be cheesy to have nick-names, strap-lines, memory phrases and other devices that we choose to associate with our names, but they are ways of making ourselves more memorable, and memorable for something specific – a positioning statement or similar.

By taking responsibility for this, creating a phrase, using it regularly, we are making it easier for people to remember us for what we want to be remembered for. Without it we may be forgotten more easily, or people are unclear about our positioning.

4. Our Personal Brand makes us more referrable

Once we have become memorable, and have a market position, and maintain consistency, we become much more referable. We become the go-to person for something specific – for our specialisation. When a topic comes up in conversation, or a question, or a need, we are the name that is mentioned.



How to develop a Personal Brand

Over the past few years I’ve worked with and helped many independent consultants and business owners to discover, define and develop their personal brand.

This goes way beyond a CV, and beyond the positioning statement at the head of the CV.

And of course they should be created with the ideal client in mind, which is where this article started.

So let’s put the customer at the heart of our personal brand, as they are at the heart of our businesses.

For more information, advice and tips about PERSONAL BRANDING – take a look at  the Category here.

For more information about Personal Branding and the Brand Triangle

There are many resources about Personal Branding on this website, and on the Internet.

For example, have a look at the Wikipedia entry on Personal Branding here.

And for a chat about the Brand Triangle, Personal Branding and Lead Generation topics raised here why not book a discovery call with me, Mark Stonham, below.

Mark Stonham Wurlwind Discovery Call

LinkedIn for Sales and Marketing and Business

LinkedIn logo - business people use LinkedIn for many purposesIt’s amazing what people can use LinkedIn for. Some use LinkedIn as a contacts directory to look people up. Some use LinkedIn for market research and for news. Others use LinkedIn for recruitment, either to find a job, or to find candidates. But increasingly people are using LinkedIn for Sales, and to improve their sales result. And as more people join LinkedIn and use it more so the potential is increasing, for those who know how to work LinkedIn effectively to help them to work smarter and get greater results in less time.

People use LinkedIn for Business, and business related contact and activities, in many ways. For sure, business is about relationships, and there is a social element as people get to know, like and trust one another, as the foundation for a commercial arrangement. Where people live, where they went to college and university, which subjects they majored in, any sporting or artistic achievements they have. which community groups they may support. All these aspects help to build up a profile and enable areas on common interest to be found quickly.

The breadth of functionality of LinkedIn is creating new opportunities, and smart people and companies will capitalise on them.

LinkedIn for Sales, and supporting the sales process

In the business to business markets it is the customer facing sales people who stand to gain the most from LinkedIn. Being able to identify and target potential customers and clients with greater accuracy, researching people and businesses prior to a phone call or meeting, and seeing who is connected to who are just some of the tasks sales people use LinkedIn for.

Increasing the quality of client contact time, through better preparation, and reducing the elapsed time from initial thought to first contact and ways LinkedIn can help. For others in sales there are more advanced strategies available, particularly around being alerted to Trigger Event happening in the lives of companies and decision-makers, and responding to them quicker that competitors.

LinkedIn is a powerful way for a sales person to build their own market position, based on their expertise and knowledge. A strong LinkedIn profile, and contributions into key groups are just the start of ways a sales person can create a strong sales platform, to open doors of senior executives and set-up significant meetings and opportunities.

LinkedIn for Marketing, and for lead generation

Raising awareness for your company and it’s products and services, researching suitable companies and people to target with marketing campaigns, advertising through LinkedIn, and generating traffic to the company website are just some of the areas that marketing can use LinkedIn for.

Creating a customer community within LinkedIn is an advanced strategy that develops from testimonials and endorsements. Just imagine how powerful it would be if your best customers were sharing good news and tips about your products and services and the service they received from you. The LinkedIn network facilitates this, for businesses who want to develop down this route, and build a long-term advantage.

LinkedIn for Business, and gaining a commercial benefit

Although the cost of using LinkedIn is free or relatively cheap, it is the time aspect that most people are concerned about. For sure there is a learning curve. There is also set-up time. And then the big one which is ongoing activity, and responding, and being ‘conversational’ and building relationships.

Trial and error, and using only basic techniques, are the ingredients for a low level of results for the time involved. A better return on effort will be achieved through an injection of skills and guidance on effective tactics, techniques and strategies.

LinkedIn for Businesses, of many different types

There are very few businesses who cannot benefit from LinkedIn in one way or another. For some businesses there may be social media alternatives that are more attractive, as part of their digital marketing mix. But where there is a business to business market plan then LinkedIn has much to offer, especially for companies and firms in the following sectors.

  • LinkedIn for Technology Businesses – finding, engaging and building relationships with customers, distributors, suppliers etc, often outside the immediate geography, is where  LinkedIn is really strong.
  • LinkedIn for Professional Services – business support, office services, HR, and a wealth of other service providers can benefit from LinkedIn
  • LinkedIn for Lawyers – commercial law is a rich seam for LinkedIn, especially for company changes and larger projects
  • LinkedIn for Accountants – being able to provide advice on many topics and a network of good connection give accountant and edge.
  • LinkedIn for Financial Services – to market to high-net-worth individuals, business owners, employees,
  • LinkedIn for Marketing Agencies – branding, communications, web design, PR are just a few of the agencies who benefit from LinkedIn.

LinkedIn for Not-for-Profit and other Organisations

There are many functions and things that not-for-profit, charities, associations and others in the ‘third’ sector can use LinkedIn for.

  • LinkedIn for Charities – finding donors and sponsors, volunteers and patrons
  • LinkedIn for Education – finding funding, governors and tutors, and helping students to find placements and jobs

LinkedIn for Relationships

The core service from LinkedIn can be likened to the telephone service. There is a directory of users. And users can communicate one with another. Different people use the phone system in different ways, to achieve what they want to. Likewise with LinkedIn there ae many different ways it can be used.

Take a look around the Wurlwind website, enter your details below, or call us to find out more ideas about what you can use LinkedIn for.




Social Selling and Sales 2.0 in B2B markets – Infographic and Overview

Selling Through Social Media to Close More Leads InsideView What is Social Selling? Social Selling, or incorporating Social Media networks into the communication mix for developing relationships with prospects and customers, is a natural extension of other forms of sales related communications, such as email, phone and meetings. Social Media is moving rapidly beyond personal […]

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