Thought leader. There, I said it.

The term has caught a BEATING lately by self-styled gurus. But what they fail to see, I hope you understand here from a sales professional perspective.

What Is a Thought Leader? A thought leader, simply put, is a person that knows their craft really, really well.

They are specialists in their line of work. They can help buyers in ways that others just won’t (because they’re in it for the transaction, not the long-term relationship).

They’re subject matter experts.

And while being a thought leader is not the end goal, it is the output of years of blood, sweat and tears.

Watch the video here to learn more.

Why Does This Matter?

So why should all of this “thought leader” talk matter to us as sales people? Buyers.

Koka Sexton @ LinkedIn released the following survey results in September 2014. I don’t think enough people paid attention to it. Let’s review it here.

This survey asked B2B buyers the attributes they seek in the sales professionals they work with. The results are startling…in a good way!

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 9.53.44 AM

Buyers are clearly expressing their candid thoughts here. They want to work with people that are thought leaders in their space. Is this really a surprise? It shouldn’t be. You’re a buyer yourself; now imagine you were on the market for a new car. When you walk into a dealership, do you want to engage with a sales person that doesn’t know their products/services? Or someone that knows them like the back of their hand?

Thought leader status isn’t achieved overnight. It’s achieved over time with a ridiculous amount of hard work. As Will Smith once said, “Talent you have naturally. Skill is developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft”.

And here is my selfish agenda: I want you to go more social. If you believe that buyers, like you, are increasingly using the internet and social media to conduct survey, then you must have a voice on social media.

As a sales pro, it doesn’t mean you eliminate other ways of outreach. It means you’re adding more to your repertoire.

Your Next Steps

You have some choices to make here.
1. Allow the wannabe gurus to get in your headspace and dissuade you from starting on your journey. All they seem to be doing in my opinion is stomping on your creative dreams. Don’t listen to them! Don’t let anyone else’s failures or lack of will hold yours back.
2. Jump into social media and start finding a voice. You’ve got help. There are great resources available for you to tap into for guidance and advice.

The Bottom Line

The data from LinkedIn, although great, shouldn’t really surprise you. If you think about it, you intrinsically know what the data already says. Buyers are attracted to people that know their stuff. It’s great that we finally have a formal set of data points to back this up now.

It’s time to get in the game. Don’t listen to the haters. Jump in. Put a toe in the water. Do what you will. But don’t WAIT.

Remember, Social Selling isn’t difficult. It’s just different.

#truth

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Amar Sheth

Author: Amar Sheth

Amar Sheth has trained thousands of people worldwide on the topic of Social Selling, through a style that’s part storytelling and part motivational.

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