Authority: Why you need it? – Four ways to earn it
Why You Need It―
Four Ways to Earn It
What would you pay toreach critical decision makers under favorable conditions?
- $1,000 a qualified lead, $2,000, more?
- Months or years of prospecting time?
- Risk overusing your referral sources?
- Invest a laser-focused 10,000 hours in your field to become an expert?
Before you answer, let’s first define what I mean by “favorable conditions.”
Your prospect has already heard or read about you.
Your prospect is predisposed to listen to you.
Your prospect takes your call when you call.
Your prospect seeks you out and asks for an opportunity to get together.
Too good to be true? Not at all. There are dozens of ways you can create a positive sales environment by earning the right to be called an Authority.
For brevity, I’ll zero in on the four ways I know work. Please don’t assume I believe I’ve got it all right. I constantly work on these areas for improvement. We’re all works in progress.
- Brand Image
Pull it together. If you don’t present a professional presence, you’re toast. Every aspect of your business should convey what you stand for and why you can be trusted. From business cards, website and collateral to dress, demeanor and language. It all matters.
- Knowledge Products
Executives with authority understand, and act on, their responsibility to educate and inform. Take seriously the need for you to produce your own series of knowledge products to assist your prospects and clients reach their business goals. Some examples include:
Write informative articles for the trade journals in your field. Editors always need new content from those-in-the-know.
Create a blog where you can share ideas, opinions, and resources to help your community thrive. Post once a week, but don’t waste anyone’s time. Write on subjects that matter, keep it short (fewer than 800 words), add useful internal links, good imagery, and build your own email list, don’t buy one. WordPress offers an easy way to set up a business blog. I’ve been blogging for one year already, enjoy it, and the feedback it draws.
It’s easier than you may think to write a good business book. I’m already working on my second. First, find a savvy ghostwriter to help you (mine’s one of the best); outline all your ideas and share in the writing process; solicit honest feedback from those you know and don’t know.
My first book, MERGE: Simplify the Complex Sale, was self-published and sold well. Try Createspace or Authorhouse for self-publishing. Also, anything you write can be turned into a downloadable e-book.
Content is the cornerstone of authority. Your messaging, on whatever platform or channel, must offer authentic value to the reader, listener, or viewer. Make it real. Don’t be self-serving. Make it meaty, well-researched and sourced. Make it readable, conversational, energetic. Content is not copywriting; it’s the liquid in the vessel of all things educational and entertaining—videos, dvds, books, websites, et al. Content broadcasts who you are and why you matter. Be great at it. Then, market it.
Some folks still like print, most prefer electronic. Whatever your audience desires, send out a periodic newsletter to stay connected. Make it a round-up of topics that carry weight. You can include trends, surveys, interviews. Let it showcase your business as a source for expertise.
→ White Papers
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve landed a key appointment with a top-end decision maker because he or she read one of my white papers. They work like a pass key into the conference room. Select a subject or issue agitating your prospects, could be legislation, product innovation, executive retention, or supply chain management, for example.
Do the research, pull in other authorities for comment, include sound statistical data, charts. Assume a clear point of view with a recommendation on various options to solve the issue. Be objective. Don’t sell. Eight to ten pages with good graphics. Distribute it to your mail or e-list with a personal comment . . .”you may find this helpful to your business.” Post on your site. Publish twice per year. Slowly, like magical flecks of influence, your white papers begin to condition your market. So worth the time on your way to earn authority.
- Online Presence
No doubt you’re inundated with sales pitches on how to up your profile on the Internet. You know what you need to do, but can’t find the time to do it. Building and maintaining an online presence is the equivalent of babysitting two-year old quintuplets: website, social media, blogging, videos, email campaigns. But it’s your price of entry on the journey to authority.
Awareness Builds Authority. Authority Earns Trust.
Don’t scrimp on your investment in an online presence. If you have the luxury of a marketing department or outside agency that can handle it for you or your firm, great. If not, you can still make a worthwhile impact on your audience. Hire a freelance web developer who can also do search engine work and social media. Use stock photo banks. Hire a business writer to clarify your message. Hire a student from film school to create business videos for you, or a professional if you can afford it. Use an email provider to handle email campaigns like Mail Chimp, Constant Contact or My Emma. Become active on LinkedIn, a powerful B-to-B social media tool. Just get busy.
- Seminars & Speaking
For the past year, I’ve been conducting a series of sales workshops for a top client. This effort allows me to teach the MERGE process to 25 to 30 key executives (my client’s advisor-owners) in a comfortable setting, conducive to lively Q & A.
What an excellent way to reach a self-qualified audience. Invariably, I earn referrals and invites to speak elsewhere. Do consider small group seminars of like-minded professionals as a productive avenue toward authority.
What’s more, seek out opportunities for public speaking. Keynotes are best, but don’t discount joining a panel discussion, webinar, or local business group. Offer to address breakout sessions at conferences. Stage a private luncheon or dinner where you can speak alongside other individuals of influence.
I haven’t even touched on the value of public relations and publicity on your journey to authority, or the extent to which social media carries its weight in your marketing arsenal, because there’s so much to share.
Yes, there is a timeframe for all these activities to roll out so that one builds on another, and you begin to gain momentum. Such a schedule would be built into your overall marketing plan. However, you can still be opportunistic.
Keep your eyes peeled for situations where you can bring real value. Do it with integrity, inspiration and genuine interest. You’ll be amazed at the benefits:
Referrals – Repeat Sales– Shorter Sales Cycles–Higher Value Deals–Client Retention.
Best of all, TRUST. In your opinion. In the relationship. And that’s everything.
See you on the upside, Bill