Although I've addressed this issue before I think it should be dealt with again as I continually see a great many sellers make the mistake of marketing the company they are selling for rather than marketing themselves.
There is a tendency for many salespeople, especially if they work for a well-known company, to place the emphasis of their marketing on the company they sell for rather than focusing on themselves. They identify their sales efforts with Wells Fargo or Merrill Lynch or GE more clearly than they identify themselves.
However, despite what we tend to think, and certainly, what the company believes, the prospect usually isn't buying GE, IBM, or UBS. They're buying the seller and the seller's trustworthiness and integrity. The relationship in most cases isn't between the company and the customer; it is between two human beings-the client and the salesperson.
Companies continually market their name, whatever that name may be. Whether it's Caterpillar, Ford, or HP, the company markets itself because it wants to establish its brand, its name recognition and its image in the mind of the prospect.
Sellers should be no different.
No matter whom you sell for, if part or all of your income is produced through commissions or bonuses based on your sales, you are self-employed. You are your own sales company- you are simply currently leasing yourself to sell for a single client company. The company you sell for today may not be the company you are selling for this time next year.
In addition, your competition isn't that major company in your industry. You don't compete against Citibank or NY Life. Glaxo isn't your competitor. The individual salespeople who sell for Citibank, NY Life and Glaxo are your competition. Selling in a relationship driven industry requires you to develop and nurture relationships. Sales are made on a personal level, not by the magazine ads or the direct mail piece. Sales are ultimately made by you, not the company or its name.
This isn't to say that your company's name may not help create interest or give you some upfront credibility. Nevertheless, that interest and credibility is insufficient to close a sale. Furthermore, it typically isn't even enough to secure an appointment.
That Merrill Lynch salesperson is digging for prospects and sales just as you are. That Glaxo rep is trying to get into the same offices and sell the same people you are.
Furthermore, if you're selling against Microsoft today, you just might be selling for Microsoft tomorrow.
In reality, you only have one thing of value to market-yourself. Prospects buy from the men and women they trust and who solve the prospect's problems and issues, not the ones they like or the ones with the big name company behind them.
Examine your marketing carefully. Who are you marketing? If it isn't you, then change everything about your marketing to focus the primary identity on you, not the company you're selling for (that's the focus identity, not the marketing message).
If you are already marketing yourself instead of the company you sell for, examine your materials for their effectiveness and image.
If you've done your job well, every contact you make, every client you sell, and every dollar you spend on marketing will go with you if you ever decide to lease your selling services to another company. However, if you've marketed the company you are selling for instead of yourself, you may find you're leaving your hard-earned clients, contacts and reputation behind, loyal to the company, not to you, forcing you to build your sales company from scratch once again.