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Ask the hard questions, develop personal brand

Rochester Business Journal
April 25, 2003
I just watched Joe Calloway, one of the best presenters in America.

His expertise is in personal branding. His upcoming book, "Becoming a Category of One: How Extraordinary Companies Transcend Commodity and Defy Comparison" (John Wiley & Sons Inc., August 2003), will delineate how you can differentiate yourself from others who do what you do, how to become positioned in your marketplace and how to make your customers love you and need you. Cool, huh?

Joe's talk started with four questions that startled me.

1. How good are you?

2. How good are you compared with your competition?

3. How good does the market think you are?

4. How good do your customers think you are?

I want to ask you a few questions behind the questions so you can see how powerful this information is.

How good are you? How would you rate yourself. OK, got a number between 1 and 10? Good. You probably think you're somewhere between 7 and 9.5 out of a possible 10. Now rate yourself individually (10 being the best) for each of these questions.

-- How do you rate your own ability to sell?

-- How well do you speak?

-- How well do you communicate your message?

-- How well do you bring new ideas to the customer?

-- How well do you close the deal?

-- How well do you follow up?

-- How well do you differentiate yourself?

-- How well do you create relationships?

-- How well do you deliver value?

-- How well do you help your customer profit from the use of your product or service?

-- How well do you build your own self-development knowledge?

Whew! Now add all those and divide by 11 and you'll have a better idea of where you really are as opposed to where you think you are.

Hurt?

Let's take it two steps deeper.

How good are you compared with your competition? Eh, eh, eh. Before you write down a number, answer this: How often do you win when you go up against them? Now rate yourself. Different rating? The competition isn't just the enemy. They're a report card.

How good does the market think you are? What is their impression of you as a person? Do they even know you exist? What has your impact been on your market? What is the big picture of you in your industry? How are you positioned? In sales, it's not who you know, it's who knows you. Before they can "think you're good," you have to have done something good. They have to know you. Now rate yourself.

Painful so far? That's nothing.

How good do your customers think you are? Here is your true measurement. Here is your next sale. Here is your referral. Here is your reputation. Here is your success. Here is your fate. Here, in a word, is your "brand." Your personal brand. Now rate yourself.

Insight: What is the reason for the gap between you and 10 in each of the four questions? Figure that out and you will soar on every level.

Hindsight: Your history will tell you exactly where you are today and why. Self-discovery is the only way.

Foresight: Once you grasp the "gap," grab your bootstraps and your hammer and start building. Oh yeah, make a plan-even if you just scribble some notes on a flip chart (like I do), it will clarify your thoughts and solidify your actions.

Your personal brand is the most important and valuable asset you have. What's the reason for poor, weak or unknown brands among salespeople? Easy-blaming instead of taking responsibility for actions and outcomes. Yes Sparky, that would be you.

Salespeople have a million reasons and excuses for "why it went wrong" but very few answers as to how to pack the error with value and eliminate it in the future. That's personal brand. And the answers have just been handed to you on a silver platter.

Here's the good news: If you decide to grab them and go for it, you'll be in the minority. The winning minority. The leading minority. The wealthy minority.

Joe Calloway was a learning experience-or should I say, a personal branding experience. Eye opening. Painful. Insightful. And right on the money. Your money. My money.

Take a few moments out of your day and look at some personal brands. Start with mine. You know me, you read me. Take a stroll through gitomer.com-my brand is my money. Actually my wealth. Then ask yourself what you need to do to begin to build or strengthen your brand. Start small, but start.

Wanna know the secret? Before you can build wealth-first build a wealth of knowledge.

GitBit: Want some more of Joe Calloway's wisdom? He's making a few more branding secrets available-free. Just go to www.gitomer.com, register if you're a first-time user, and enter "calloway" in the GitBit box.

(Jeffrey Gitomer, author of "The Sales Bible" and "Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless," and president of Charlotte, N.C.-based BuyGitomer Inc., gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or his e-mail address, salesman@gitomer.com.)

04/25/03 (C) Rochester Business Journal


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