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Never be vanilla!

“How did you win that new client?” “How did you get that job when there were so many people vying for it?” “How can we as a business stand out from all the other businesses offering the same service in our postcode?”

These are all questions I see and hear daily whilst networking, on social media or when clients first reach out to me for help improving their sales.

I get it. It’s really hard to stand out when there are hundreds or thousands of other businesses in your sector. When you’re networking, it can feel difficult to differentiate yourself when speaking with someone for the first time. We can all hear the silent ‘so what’ as soon as we say what we do, but know it’s detrimental if we go into full ‘pitch’ mode. It’s even harder when you’re not face to face, when you’re trying to stand out on social media and might only have a split-second to catch someone’s attention mid-scroll. Some people simply get imposter syndrome and do nothing.

We all know by now our “USP is you”, but ‘being yourself’ isn’t always as easy as it sounds, whether you’re an employee or an entrepreneur. In the corporate world there’s often a fear that if you don’t toe the company line you’ll be in the firing line, and in entrepreneur world you feel like you have to please everyone to keep your network of potential new business large. In both scenarios we’re often so worried about keeping everyone happy and not rocking the boat, that we often forget what our ideal clients want and need! But in a noisy world of networking events and online conversations, being authentic and personal will be what cuts through the noise and gets you noticed.

So what can we do to stand out? 

Did you know that 70% of people have checked you as an individual online before they decide to do business with you? Those embarrassing holiday photos, that dull LinkedIn profile photo you haven’t refreshed in several years (and doesn’t accurately reflect what you look like any more). Does it stack up to who they might meet in person for the first time?

I recently sat in on a personal branding session that summed it up beautifully in 4 categories – Consistency, visibility, personality and value. (I’d also add make the complex, simple.)

Be there – online, in person, available or the end of the phone. Do what you say you’re going to do, when you say you’re going to do it! Look the part, look like you, not everyone else. By that I mean be professionally dressed but not identical to everyone else, its ok if all your company will let you stretch to is coloured socks or a funky tie with the stock grey suit, or your charity pin badge, but make that ‘your thing’. As the phrase goes ‘get up, dress up, show up’.

Be happy – when greeted at an event, or going to a prospect meeting, keep it upbeat. Nobody wants to hear about your awful commute to get there, after all, we probably all battled through the same traffic! We gravitate towards those who are smiling and having a good time. Those people build stronger relationships and win new business.

Be helpful and supportive, (trust me, it pays to be kind – I even wrote a whole blog on it,) be interested in others and engage on other people’s online activity. Give someone that feel good dopamine hit. A quick email checking in, or a supportive comment on a LinkedIn post will keep you ‘front of mind’, and could be the difference between you being recommended to their network, or being forgotten about!

Value is about demonstrating your expertise and results. “Good service is a given, great service gets talked about, but amazing service will have your clients shouting about you.” If your clients and peers aren’t shouting about you, then you need to be working harder on how you’re helping them on their journey or perhaps keeping in better touch once you’re finished working with them. One great testimonial from someone else is worth 100 posts bigging yourself up.

I challenge all my clients to have at least 5 ‘cheerleaders’ in their corner who could comprehensively stand up in a room and share what they do as clearly as they do themselves – and if they haven’t got at least 5 to work on building that relationship with more people.

I help a lot of clients confidentially on their sales people, processes and pipeline and see this challenge of standing out regularly. It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do – my clients all deliver excellent products and services – but it’s easy to get overwhelmed with internal process, over-complicate things and forget the basics about how to start off an effective sales journey.

My simply response is to get out there and ‘never be vanilla.’

You can’t be just one, you have to be the only one, and there is only one of you!

If you would like to talk about how to make your business stand out – and get sales – then please send me a message or give me a call. I’ve helped dozens of entrepreneurs, salespeople and businesses join the dots from first impression to the handshake on a completed sale, and I’d love to do the same for you.