These days, everyone is knocking around the title “thought leader.” While it may seem like just another marketing buzzword, it actually counts for a lot in our constantly connected culture.
Nicole Fallon Taylor of Business News Daily defines a thought leader as someone who is “viewed as a credible industry expert, one who cuts through the ‘noise’ and offers something worth listening to.” In this way, thought leaders can define problems while also presenting novel solutions or repackaging proven solutions in an inventive way.
By becoming a thought leader, sales reps can harness this type of influential persona in order to sway opinion and instill immediate trust in their personal brand. By being seen as a thought leader among their clients and leads, they can increase their success rate while also forging deeper connections.
Here’s how they can do it:
Becoming a Thought Leader: Start by Building a Personal Brand
The most important factor in establishing yourself as a thought leader is to create a distinctive persona. Therefore, you can’t afford to be seen as just “employee X at company Y.” Instead, you must be “Important Jobman, provider of ideas and solutions who happens to work at company Y.”
Separating yourself from the company brand involves demonstrating your own thoughts and ideas. The best way to do this? Become an expert on a niche area of your industry and then blog about it. With LinkedIn Pulse, you can very easily share articles and write your own in a visible forum. People who are curious about you or your company can easily look up your profile, and if they see the thoughts you tend to share, they end up with more mental buy-in regarding the solutions you offer.
Additionally, if your post reach spreads as people share or comment on your articles, your posts may end up reaching someone who becomes a future prospect. In this situation, they have already been exposed to you as a brand rather than as just-another-sales-employee, subtly nurturing them in advance.
Eventually, you can move on from simple text blog posts to creating engaging videos that quickly encapsulate a pain point and present compelling ideas as solutions.
Have Incredible, Personalized Knowledge at Your Fingertips
Thought leaders don’t just spread their ideas through blog posts and videos. They provide inspiration at every touchpoint.
If you want to be considered as a thought leader, you should therefore be prepared to “wow” clients at every interaction with just how far your knowledge goes. Like a mountain pool, your thoughts must be deep but also lucid. You should constantly study up on your industry and your particular niche expertise. Keep track of upcoming trends, and be well-read among other thought leaders who shape your industry.
With this knowledge at hand, you can send leads statistics that put their entire industry in perspective, or suggest an idea that can totally change the way they think. These ideas can come from a combination of your own original thoughts and shared content you found interesting. To increase your effectiveness, you can package a “content share” with a client into a short, personalized video that sums up all the points or introduces why you thought the client would get value out of the information.
Our own sales reps use our internal 2Win! Bridge cloud video softwareplatform to share this type of content since it provides a walled garden environment to present this content without distraction. Recipients can see links presented clearly through display messages in the video, and reps can even queue up other additional content for the recipient to enjoy. Best of all, viewer statistics let them see who watched the video for how long, informing their lead qualification while helping them optimize future content.
When done right, thought leadership can serve as an inspiration to everyone around you. The persona and knowledge you have carefully crafted can transcend your organization, allowing peers and clients alike to view you with admiration.