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Did you know that only 1 in 4 Americans believe that sales professionals are credible in what they say and do? Bad personal experience with a sales rep certainly contributes to this weak figure. You probably remember cases where you suspected that the seller you were about to do business with was a fraud. Maybe the person gave contradictory answers to your questions. Or maybe they just received your calls after hours. When your Spidey sense told you something was wrong, you probably checked the person online. Depending on what you found, you may have passed this rep and what they were selling because of their low sales credibility.
In the age of instantly available information, you behaved like any buyer. These days, buyers are not expecting to receive a call or visit from a sales professional. Investigate online sales representatives before contacting. If they do not find enough information or come across information that should have been kept private, they will move on.
Related: How to Develop a Digital Presence for Professional Success
Your LinkedIn profile makes your first impression on shoppers
Our research shows that 65% of potential customers check the LinkedIn profile of a sales representative, view their posts on social media, or do a Google search before meeting them for the first time. When a potential customer looks at your fingerprint, what are they likely to find? You don’t want them to encounter inconsistencies that make them wonder if you are who you say you are.
Not long ago, a sales representative emailed me to introduce a product that interested my business. Let’s face it Jake D. I researched it briefly on LinkedIn and then another project diverted my attention. When the rep followed up and scheduled a meeting, I re-checked his LinkedIn profile and noticed that his name had changed. I wondered if auto-correction had been the problem. Not impressed by his attention to detail, I delved deeper and found that Jake D. was not working at the job he claimed to be. His profile also showed that he had spent 13 years running his own consulting firm. During this time, he claimed to have worked with a couple of companies he knew as clients. But the results of my search on Google appeared in press releases showing that I had been an employee of these companies. These online discrepancies caused too many red flags. I wouldn’t know what was true about this seller. I canceled the meeting we had scheduled and have not yet done any business with the representative or his company.
Don’t let doubts about your professionalism get into the minds of your potential customers. You can prevent this from happening by reviewing your LinkedIn profile every six months. During the review, consider the details from the perspective of your next customer, because that’s who you want to impress. In other words, create your LinkedIn profile for your next customer instead of your next boss.
Update your profile with your latest certifications and achievements. Potential customers like to do business with lovers who keep their skills sharp. Post on your LinkedIn page any articles you’ve written related to your potential customers’ industry. Mark these articles with a hashtag to make them easy to find on Google and social media.
Related: What does your fingerprint say about you?
Social media auditing from the buyer’s perspective
Your curious leads are likely to limit your online search to LinkedIn. They will move to other social sites. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. In his day, only a few of our closest friends knew about these glasses. Now, every moment is remembered on social media. Many people use social media to brag about their latest getaways. Do these images enhance the sales credibility you expect to achieve?
Decide how you want potential customers to see you. Delete images and posts that don’t match your goals. If one of your friends posted a not-so-favorable image and tagged you, ask them to remove it. Be sure to conduct a social media audit regularly so that you can remove problematic content before potential customers see it.
Remember, it’s equally important to reflect positive content on your social media sites. Has anyone captured images or videos of you speaking at industry conferences that matter to your potential buyers? Set your calendar to review your activity on a monthly basis and update your sites. Making this type of content public and being able to be found by search engines increases your credibility.
Commit to a content production schedule with SEO in mind
Our research shows that only 17% of sales professionals have written publications or articles related to their clients’ line of business. Prospects are always online these days. Of the more than 1,000 small business leaders we surveyed, 25% have watched a video podcast related to their industry over the past year, while 17% have listened to an audio podcast. This curiosity marks an opportunity for you to present yourself as a thought leader.
Whether you’re creating content once or twice a week, commit to a schedule. Don’t be discouraged if you have few clues at first. Content has a long shelf life. I wrote an article recently for a pharmaceutical publication. A year later, I still receive inquiries from potential customers reading the article. If I hadn’t written this article, my fingerprint would have been much smaller. The more quality content you produce, especially if it contains data and knowledge from industry leaders, the more credibility you will gain.
Buyers are eager for information that they can use to educate themselves before contacting a seller. They will search online and, if you want them to find your content, invest in the help of an SEO service to develop a strategy that matches popular search terms. At my company, we are committed to changing our content strategy so that our website appears on the first page of search engine results. After several months of constantly posting content that included the right keywords, we achieved our goal and attracted more traffic.
Prospects have many marketers to choose from. If you want them to notice you, expand your fingerprint to one that reflects the image you want to project. When potential customers find you online, your credibility increases, along with the possibility of doing business with you.
Related: The biggest mistake you make on LinkedIn and what you should do