Running a web agency, I receive calls from many (many!) telemarketers from all over the world offering all types of services. Somehow I don’t think I am alone. Unfortunately the training and technology in the telemarketing industry has meant that I can pick them from a mile away and, like you I am guessing, don’t often have much time for them. Up until recently, I would end the call promptly and unceremoniously, before listening to what they were calling about. But something has changed…
When approached by clients to consult about a brand, to improve brand reputation and image and in-turn improve sales, so often the client will come to me with a laundry list of the solutions they need to action – websites, logos, marketing – perhaps even a product or service change? It’s taken me years of research and experience (perhaps I’m a slow learner?), but finally I’ve realized that the starting place is not your website…
As the world becomes saturated with bulk communication strategies (social media, I’m looking at you) and networks stretch beyond the people you actually know, there is a new value in a truly trustworthy personal connection. A relationship that has a quality beyond a script. This value is not only something your customers are naturally wired to seek and appreciate, but also an amazing skill that can be cultivated to avoid market competition and disruption.
Building a trusting and trusted connection starts with authenticity – knowing, owning, and being guided by your own ‘Personal Brand’. For years I have been loathe to waste good, productive “selling time”, but I have come to understand, and now preach about, the importance of spending time on the why of your business and cementing your core values. Knowing this is the only way to truly put a spotlight on your authenticity – of walking your talk. This is not about your product or service, it’s about you and how you want to feel in your business. Once you have identified these beliefs – document them and live by them.
Understanding what is important to you and how you want to present to the world is half the equation. Learning how to successfully communicate this to your audience involves understanding what trust really is and how it is built, and understanding how to create opportunities to be authentically and efficiently communicating your message.
Susan Fiske from Princeton University talks about trust being made up of two very unique qualities: Warmth and Competence. Competence has to do with carrying out what you say you can. It is often aligned with features and benefits of the product itself. What I would like to focus on here though is warmth, and the current lack of warmth in contemporary brand communication.
Warmth is described as a feeling that lets us know whether the person we are dealing with is meaning us ill or well. It is a primal feeling that we get when we first meet someone. The kicker here is that most people focus on establishing their own competence and in-turn lose much of the opportunity to cultivate what many customers instinctively look for first – warmth.
Yes – and no. There are no tricks or scripts for warmth – it can not be faked. Warmth and authenticity go hand-in-hand. The real success with any brand is always finding congruence between the intention (core values) and the behaviour or actions of the people in it. In sales this means looking for opportunities to connect first – and release the sales pressure. Prioiritising connection will naturally provide opportunities for mutual benefit that in turn grow your business in every way. Humans at heart crave meaningful interaction, and rejecting the customers-as-stepping-stones-to-sales-targets culture leaves an open space for genuine, trusting relationships to grow.
It is important to note that this is a truly personal change. If we are living our core values then this will be seen in our behaviour across the board – even with those telemarketers.
“Making the day” of people that come in contact with my business is a reflection of my core values and to include people like telemarketers in that exercises an authenticity that shows dividends in the rest of the business. The freedom it brings when you focus on aligning ALL of your behaviour on your intention is incredible and quantifiable.
Personal brand is just that – personal. Spend the time understanding who you want to be and embed that in your brand. If you can truly live your brand you create a new playing field that nobody can compete with.