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Article Title:
Salespeople: Position Yourselves with Power

Article Description:
If we are going to be an effective, professional salesperson, 
we ought to give thoughtful consideration to how we position 
ourselves in the minds of our customers.

Additional Article Information:
1971 Words; formatted to 65 Characters per Line
Distribution Date and Time: Tue Mar  7 01:30:53 EST 2006

Written By:     Dave Kahle
Copyright:      2006
Contact Email:  mailto:[EMAIL PROTECTED]

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Salespeople: Position Yourselves with Power
Copyright © 2006 Dave Kahle
The DaCo Corporation

His eyes were narrow and bloodshot from staying out late and 
partying too heavily the previous night. A two-day old stubble 
framed his face. He was wearing a dark colored tee shirt, which 
he hadn't tucked in, a pair of jeans, and scuffed loafers which 
had probably never seen shoe polish. It was the second day of my 
Sales Academy seminar, and this participant in the program was 
complaining to the group that his customers were only interested 
in low price.

I didn't say this, because I didn't want to embarrass him in 
front of the group, but I thought it none the less: "Do you think 
your appearance and demeanor have anything to do with your 
customers' reaction? Do you think that you may give them the idea 
that you are the lowest rung on the pricing scale? Is it possible 
that you have inadvertently positioned yourself as the Wal-Mart 
of the industry?"

I remember, as a child, having a salesperson call on my family. 
He had an appointment to discuss a correspondence course for 
one of us. He drove a big Lincoln, dressed richly, spoke 
articulately, and carried himself with confidence. It wasn't a 
coincidence that we bought his program without quibbling about 
the price.

These two scenarios illustrate a powerful and frequently 
overlooked best practice in the world of sales: Whether you 
intend to or not, you always create a position in the minds of 
your customers, and that position influences the customer's 
attitudes toward you as well as the buying decisions that 
follow.In other words, if you look like you're the low price, 
your customers will expect you to be the low price.

It follows, then, that if we are going to be an effective, 
professional salesperson, we ought to give thoughtful 
consideration to how we position ourselves in the minds of our 

Let's begin by understanding the idea of positioning a little 
deeper. Positioning has long been a term bandied about by 
advertising mavens and marketing gurus. They define it as the 
place that your brand or product has carved out in the mind of 
the customer. It's the pictures that enter the customers' mind 
when they think of your product, the feelings that your product 
evokes, the attitudes they associate with you, and the thoughts 
that they have of you.

Chances are, for example, that the words "Volkswagen Beetle" 
evoke a set of responses from you that are different than 
"Chevrolet Corvette." You expect a certain degree of quality, 
price and service when you enter a Wal-Mart that is not the same 
as your expectations upon stepping inside a Saks Fifth Avenue 

Billions of dollars are spent every year on carefully crafted 
impressions by businesses anxious to carve out a valuable 
position in the minds of their customers.

Alas, if only the same thing could be said of many salespeople.

Just like the carefully designed impressions by advertising 
mediums inexorably chisel a spot into our psyches, so do the 
repeated visits by a salesperson embed a set of expectations, 
pictures and emotions into the minds of our customers. The 
position you, as a salesperson, occupy is a complex intertwining 
of the perception of your company, your solutions, and yourself. 
The most effective salespeople and sales organizations understand 
that, and consciously work to create a positive position in the 
minds of their customers.

Creating Your Position

Let's begin at the end. A good starting point is to think deeply 
and with some detail about what sort of position you want to 
create. What, exactly, do you want your customers to think of 
you? Let me suggest two possibilities: the minimum acceptable 
position, and the ideal position.

At a minimum, I believe your customer should view you as a 
competent, trustworthy person who brings value to the customer. 
They believe that you generally know your products and their 
strengths and weaknesses, that you generally know the customer's 
issues, and that you can be reliably counted on to do what you 
say you will do. That's the least acceptable position to which 
you should work towards. If your customers don't think of you at 
least in this way, you probably should not be in sales.

At the other end of the spectrum is the ideal position. This 
builds on the minimum, but adds a specific understanding on the 
part of the customer of your unique combination of strengths and 
attributes. It evolves as you have history with the customer 
until you occupy a position that is totally and uniquely yours 
and that carries with it the expectation that your strengths in 
some specific and unique way add value to the time the customer 
spends with you. The ultimate test of the power of your position 
is the customer's willingness to see you and the resulting 
preference for doing business with you.

Here's an illustration. If you were shopping for an automobile, a 
low-mileage late model Taurus would probably provide you with 
competent, reliable transportation. So, when you think of that 
specific automobile, it would evoke a set of ideas in your mind 
all revolving around competent and reliable transportation. Now, 
think of a brand new Lamborghini and you would understand it to 
be transportation, but with a unique flair - something above and 
beyond just reliable transportation. That flair would be a result 
of the unique strengths of that particular automobile conveyed in 
a graphic way to your mind.

So it is with salespeople. You want to position yourself in your 
customer's mind the equivalent of the Taurus. But if you really 
want to carve out a unique, memorable position in your customer's 
mind, you'd want them to think of you as a Lamborghini.

The question then is, how do you want your customers to think of 
you? Once you articulate a specific picture, you can then start 
to build that position. Here are four essential steps to help you 
convey a positive position to your customers.

1. Soberly assess yourself.

What sort of position are you currently occupying in the 
customer's mind? Be as objective as possible as you think through 
each of the issues listed below, and compare yourself to your 
competitors. How do you stand on...

* your appearance

* your product knowledge

* your understanding of company policies and procedures

* your competence with basic sales skills

* your understanding of the customer

* your bearing and demeanor.

If you find that your rank below your competitors on any of these 
issues, then you need to spiff them up so that you are thought 
of, at least, as a Taurus. Then, you can begin to move toward the 
Lamborghini position.

2. Start on the inside.

In my book, 10 Secrets of Time Management for Salespeople, I 
propose that you "get grounded." That advice is based on the 
observation that it is difficult to sustain a false position. It 
is all a whole lot easier if you portray yourself to be who you 
are. Integrity, meaning consistency between who you are and who 
you present yourself to be, is a foundation to a positive 

In order to do that, you must clearly understand who you are. 
That means that you crystallize, in a written document, these 
three issues:

* Your purpose. This really speaks to your spiritual orientation. 
  Why are you here? What is your purpose in life and in this job? 
  Why are you doing this anyway?

* Your vision. What would you like to become? What do you see as 
  possible and ideal in your job, your career, and in your life?

* Your values. What are the highest priority items in your life 
  and in your job? What are the people, ideas, behaviors and 
  qualities of character that are most important to you?

Once you have thought deeply about these internal issues, you'll 
find it much easier to live them. The process of articulating 
them and putting them on paper keeps you focused and attentive to 
the deeper issues.

3. Do a sober assessment of your strengths.

If you are going to position yourself in the eyes of the customer 
as having some combination of uniqueness, you first have to 
identify what those unique strengths are. What are your personal 
unique attributes, experiences, and passions as it relates this 
job? Do you have some special experience? Do you have some unique 
capabilities? Do you have some unique relationships? Do you have 
some unusual characteristics? Identify those strengths on a piece 
of paper, and then add a line or two on how each of those can 
bring value to the customer.

At this point, you will have done the necessary homework to make 
the job of building a unique position much easier. You now know 
who you are and what strengths you can bring to your customers. 
Now comes the fun.

4. Continually seek opportunities to convey your brand.

Act in a way that is consistent with your statements of 
strengths. For example, if you say that you are good with high 
tech, don't take notes on a scratch pad. Put them into a PDA. If 
you say you are personally attractive, don't forget to shave 
before you make a sales call. Be consistent - act like the person 
you claim to be.

Find ways to utilize your strengths and emphasize your 
uniqueness. In one of my sales positions, for example, 
recognizing that I had some unique talents in speaking to groups, 
I consistently found ways to organize seminars and workshops for 
my customers in which I presented to the group. I could have made 
individual sales calls to six customers, but I found that when I 
brought all six together in a group, I was more effective. It was 
just me utilizing my strengths.

Be creative. One of my strengths happened to be my wife, who is a 
gourmet cook, and extremely good with anything that even looks 
like food. We collaborated, and as Christmas gifts for my 
customers, she would make dozens of varieties of homemade cookies 
and candies, and I'd pack them uniquely for each customer. Within 
a year or two, everyone looked forward to my arriving with our 
annual Christmas present.

Develop a reputation by intention. Decide what you want to be 
known for, and then work to consistently make that happen. One 
salesperson makes sure, for example, that he doesn't call on a 
customer unless he has something to share with that customer 
which he believes that customer will find valuable. As a result, 
he has no problem getting time with his customers. He's developed 
the reputation of always bringing something of value.

If you want to be known as the most responsive salesperson, set 
up a system that allows you to respond to every phone call within 
an hour or two. If you want to be known as the fountain of 
product knowledge, make sure that you study every price list and 
piece of literature on every product you sell. If you want to be 
known as the specialist in some application, make sure that you 
know it inside and out.

Consider everything that you do. Question every single aspect of 
your interaction with the customer, and gradually shape every 
thing to match the position you want to gain. If you want your 
customer to think of you as confident and competent, don't drive 
a dirty 10 year old car. If you want your customer to think of 
you as worth an extra couple percentage points in price, then 
don't come in wearing wrinkled Dockers and a dirty tee shirt. If 
you want to be known as intelligent and articulate, don't use 

Your position in the minds of the customer is a powerful and 
subtle component of an effective salesperson's approach. 
Consistently working at building a positive position will pay 
dividends for years.

About Dave Kahle, The Growth Coach®:
Dave Kahle is a consultant and trainer who helps his clients 
increase their sales and improve their sales productivity. 
His latest book for sales managers is Transforming Your 
Sales Force for the 21st Century ( ).  You can also 
sign up for his sales ezine called "Thinking About Sales" at . You can reach 
Dave personally at 800-331-1287 or by emailing him at 



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