Sales 101: Become the Brand
The black hat consideration
A great number of salespeople are barely more than common hucksters, figments of their sales manager’s desires for greater sales and profits. It is a shame too, since all of them could improve vastly in a matter of seconds if only they had a slight change of heart. All they have to do is become the brand. This is the most basic rule of good salesmanship, not a cosmic secret. Branding, or creating name recognition for a product or service, is the function of salespeople, yet few understand the concept. Said best by Hawk, the bad guy in the black hat on John Wayne’s western movie Rooster Cogburn, “You take my money, you wear my brand!” This sentiment is, of course, mirrored by every company in America, albeit not as sinisterly put. Salespeople are needed for the generation of profits, so companies endeavor to hire those who are willing to become the “brand.” Devotion is expected and deserved in return for the paycheck, but rarely given. Few salespeople actually believe that devotion to the “brand” is necessary; therefore, they fail to meet sales expectations.
Good salespeople want their customers to remember what they represent. For me, I experience a thrill when a customer says, “Here comes the Marko Man!” Marko Janitorial Supply is my company name, my brand of cleaning products, and my livelihood. I take pride in it. When customers see me, I want them to remember I am more than just a nice guy in a suit. I want them to remember I represent a professional brand name worth having on their supply closet shelf!
Words from a branding pro
Sage branding advice
Branding is something Roy C. Getz, chairman of the Ohio Restaurant Association and former Senior Vice President of Marketing for Denny’s Restaurants, knows a lot about. He believes, “A clearly defined brand position is critical for ongoing success. We must develop our advertising and merchandising in such a way as to leverage our brand’s points of difference. Showing how we are different and better leads to ongoing business growth, the whole reason for branding.”
Wasted branding bucks
Most companies spend advertising dollars for little do-lollies like logo business cards, logo pens, logo ball caps, logo T-shirts, logo coffee mugs and other logo sundries. For a while my company offered magnetic signs which could easily be applied to car doors and removed as needed. Do you think a single one of our salespeople would use them besides myself as sales manager? No! They were too embarrassed to put them on their cars. We had logo caps and shirts at one time too. Do you think a single one of our salespeople would wear them besides myself as sales manager? No! They were too important to wear anything with a logo. When salespeople are not proud enough of what they represent to take advantage of expensive branding tools at their disposal, do you think they will make it? NO!
I sell toilet paper, hand towels, mop buckets, floor finish, disinfectants, and all sorts of cleaning products. What my customers remember upon seeing me is that I sell toilet paper. So be it! As long as they remember my brand and put my toilet tissue on their holder, I have succeeded as a salesperson. I put up with the jokes because every chuckle is yet another branding technique. "Hey, do you sell John Wayne toilet tissue? You know, the kind that's rough and tough and don't take !2#1!&%! from nobody?" Nope. I don't. I leave that to my competition, pardner; however, if you want something worth using, buy it from me. You'll find my company logo on every box just to remind you of where to come for skid paper.
My point is this: it doesn't matter what you sell but how you represent it. Do yourself and your company a favor and earn your keep by understanding how important it is to talk up the brand. This one simple change in the manner of a sales call will dramatically increase sales over time. It is a fundamental shift in thought. I am the Marko Man. Marko stands for quality products, excellent personalized service, and competitive pricing. What does your brand stand for? If you can't state the answer in a single short sentence, you've already failed before you get started selling. Do your company a favor and don't waste branding bucks. Embrace the brand to improve sales.
Be the brand
Wear the hat!
It is lack of devotion that breaks a brand. The top complaint I hear from defunct salespeople is, “They [the company] didn’t give me what they said they would.” My joiner is, “Did you give them all you said you would?” By that I mean, “Did you become the brand for them?” After all, salespeople are most times the only faces seen of a company by the customer. They are the company in the minds of their clientele. That’s why devotion is so important, to make believers out of customers. If a salesperson does not believe in the products he or she represents, how would anyone else be able to? Just as the bad guy always wears black - a branding technique used by writers and promoters of movie and television Westerns - a salesperson should don the garb of his or her brand. Wear the hat!
© 2014 Richard C. Meehan, Jr.
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