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How to Build Authority

The #1 Factor to Consider When Building Authority in Any Industry

Ever find that you’re booking leads or appointments with prospects that just aren’t the right fit? Maybe deals keep falling through. What’s the common pattern? Let’s look at the flipside. It might have something to do with the answer to these questions…

  • What is the reason businesses stay with a particular vendor year after year?
  • What is the reason certain businesses get referrals non-stop?
  • How do some businesses manage to stand head and shoulders over the competition, even when their service isn’t officially “the best”?
  • Marketing? Let’s be more specific: Authority leadership.

Authority should be on every business’ mind. A company with authority leadership has developed trust and connection with their target base; their audience has confidence in not only their ability to follow through on their promises to deliver, but also in what they stand for. 

When you’re an authority in your business, it opens opportunities, builds trust with your market, and makes the sales conversation easier when the time comes. So why doesn’t everyone do this? 

Frankly, it’s not obvious how to do it.

A lot of businesses struggle with this because they don’t know what to say that will create the most connection. 

When done correctly, not only will authority increase your pool of prospects, those prospects will be more likely to be open to real business conversations. However, without developing this authority leadership at some level, it’s extremely difficult to be successful in sales. That disconnect stems from a lack of trust.

As one of this century’s best and well known salesmen, Zig Ziglar explained, “If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.”

One mistake companies make when aiming to build authority leadership is deceivingly simple:  trying to connect with the wrong client profile OR not understanding their client’s true motivations.

It could be that your message and your positioning aren’t resonating because you’re talking to the wrong prospects.

If you don’t know who you’re aiming for, you’re bound to miss the target.

That’s why the core of any successful marketing campaign incorporates a three pronged approach you need to master:

The WHO (your market)
The WHAT (your messaging and offer)
The WHERE (the platform on which you attract prospects)

While each factor is important, if you get the WHO wrong, it doesn’t matter what you say or where you’re targeting them – you will clash with them. Your messaging will be off point and you won’t be able to connect. They won’t feel like you understand their industry, their pains, their desires for a solution. They won’t see you as the best solution.

If you can’t express that you understand exactly what your prospect needs, how can any business possibly propose to have the best solution for their problem?

The best part is, once you take the time to research and zero in on exactly who are the best prospects for your business you’ll start to see benefits like:

  • Finally getting traction from sharing content, even prospective clients telling you that you “read their minds”
  • Being contacted by people you’d love to work with
  • You come in contact with more people who are more open to starting business conversations with you
  • You become known as the go-to in your industry and you can be picky about who you work with
  • You get more and more leads that are actually a great fit for your business
  • Your lead generation efforts are more streamlined and effective because you know exactly what your ideal prospects need and want
  • And you close more clients who previously might never have given you the time of day, who can really move the needle forward for your business, and who can pay what you ask (say goodbye to “low-hanging” fruit anymore and pursue larger accounts)

When we position our clients as leaders in their space and create campaigns that truly connect with and are relevant to the prospect, our clients soon become the go-to service provider in their industry. The prospect has become familiar with them and now views them as a resource – not another bottom-of-the-barrel vendor. 

When it comes down to it, it’s about positioning yourself so you’re ahead of the curve and that starts with knowing your prospect profile.

How to Create Your Prospect Profile

It’s more than just identifying who your prospects are if you want to start quality conversations with them. You need to gather as much data as you can so that you understand them. You need to know what makes them tick, why they make the decisions they do, what their daily life is like, what pressures they have and who they’re influenced by.

That’s where a “Prospect Profile” comes in – essentially a simple cheat sheet compiling all the information you gather about your primary prospects, also known as a buyer persona. It’s a quick, visual representation you can fall back on every time you embark on getting new leads to make sure you’re focused on the right target.

Will identifying a specific “buyer persona” limit your reach? No, on the contrary, it will help you hone in on the best prospects for your business, it will give you valuable insight on how to approach them, and it will help you develop more focused and effective campaigns.

Creating your Prospect Profile gives you the opportunity to gain a significant competitive advantage in your industry.

Let’s dive in!

Step One: Identify Your Ideal Prospects

A lot of people think about their clients and they say, well, I could work with anybody. And in many cases, most businesses could work with just about anybody. But do you want to? To find your best clients, you need to take a look at your past clients and decide who are the BEST ones to work with, the ones you would love to work with.

This requires identifying three factors:

  1. the clients you most enjoy working with, 
  2. the clients to whom you can give the best service and deliver the best results, 
  3. and the clients that give you a greater financial return. 

Finding that middle spot is the best and fastest way to accelerate your business.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What does your ideal client look like? Brainstorm a list of everything that comes to mind.
  2. Look at your past clients.  Are there any common threads that run throughout?
  3. Look at your BEST clients. Why did you love working with them? What types of results did you help them achieve?

Remember, it’s one thing to just “find prospects” and it’s another thing entirely to attract the best prospects to your business. Doing so not only saves your business time and money in prospecting and selling, but targeting your RIGHT prospects moves your business forward.

What if you have more than one ideal prospect?

Or what if you have more than one product and they’re each for different types of prospects? Simply focus on the main 1-3 buyer personas for each product. More than that and your marketing and lead gen efforts won’t be as laser-focused or effective.

Finally, here’s a tip:

Once you’ve narrowed down who you want to focus on, stop thinking of all your prospects as a group. Instead, put a name and a face to the description of your perfect prospect. This will help you talk to an actual person in your marketing, instead of a large group, which makes your marketing message that much more powerful.

Step Two: Identify Relevant Demographics

The next step in the creation of your Prospect Profile includes identifying relevant demographics that will help you find your prospects online or that will help you to understand their needs.

Personal Demographics

Personal demographics will help you understand what stage in life your prospects is in and potentially what kind of life they have. From the information you collect here, you’ll want to use it to understand their needs and pain points. Only collect the personal demographics that are relevant in helping you do this.

Relevant demographics may include:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income level
  • Location
  • Marital Status
  • Family Size
  • Occupation
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Or anything else you might find relevant to either help you find them online or understand them better.

Professional Demographics

The professional demographics will tell you more about their day to day at work. These may include:

  • Industry
  • Company
  • Job title
  • Company size
  • Company revenue
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Or again, anything else you might find relevant to either help you find them online or understand them better.

How can you use these demographics to help you build authority and trust in your marketing and sales?

Step 3: Identify Professional Attributes

Professional attributes dig deeper into the factors that go into your prospects’ purchasing decisions. This is very beneficial to know because that way you can address their pain points and overcome objections in a way that’s effective and relevant to them, even before you give any type of real sales presentation.

Some of the professional attributes you’ll want to look at are:

  • Goals and priorities
  • Pain points
  • Actions previously taken to relieve pain points
  • Any perceived barriers as to why they can’t solve these pain points
  • Who do they report to? Anyone else involved in the purchase decision?

You need to know their goals if you’re going to align your services with those goals. You also need to know the pain points they have. For example, do they have trouble measuring the effectiveness of their marketing? What does that mean for them on a daily basis and what have they done so far to try to alleviate that pain? Thinking this way gives you insight into how they’re feeling and what a solution would mean to them on a financial level but also on a personal level.

Now, if they report to someone else who will make the final decision, you’ll want to make a prospect profile for that person as well. For example, if your prospect is a marketing director who has to run everything by the CEO, you’ll want to do this process for the CEO as well. How can you use this information to appeal to the CEO and make your business and your solution the one he or she chooses?

Get as detailed as possible a Prospect Profile as you can! Remember, you may have more than one prospect for different products. Focus on a few primary prospects and create a detailed prospect profile for each of them.

Another Tip:

As you identify these professional attributes, remember to write how your prospect speaks. If there are certain phrases common to the industry, use them. If they describe their pain points in a certain way, write down their exact words.

Avoid language that is too jargony to what you do. And instead focus on the simple way your prospects refer to what you provide.

If you aren’t sure of the best language, speak with your clients. Ask them about why they use your product or service and the big benefits they’ve received from your work. From there just listen to the terminology they are using and take note of any common phrases you hear coming up again and again.

Let’s Take a Look at Some Examples

Example #1: “Tim”

Let’s say you were targeting B2B small business owners – a segment we often work with. If this was your general target, we’d build out the information to round out the prospect profile with the information below.

Key demographics we’d use to find this person on LinkedIn:

  • Age: approx 35-55
  • Education: Bachelors or higher
  • Job Title: Business Owner, CEO, President, Founder
  • Location: North America, UK Australia
  • Company Size: 1-10, 11-50 employees

The personal information about Age and Education isn’t a requirement…but it can help understand the prospect’s motivations, background, and interests in some cases. What’s most important to us in most cases would be Job Title, Location and Company Size.

Key Attributes:

  • Goals: Increase sales and grow business, gain a steady flow of leads coming in on a regular basis
  • Pain Points: No consistency with lead volume. Lack of reliable new sales opportunities. Inconsistent cash flow.
  • Barriers: No lead gen system in place, lacking marketing skill or time
  • Actions taken: Cold calling, hired a lead generation company that only produced low-quality leads

From this prospect profile, we’d know that our prospect’s main frustration would be not having a system to get leads consistently, which has a ripple effect into a number of other problems across the business.

Here are some other examples of prospect profiles you can draw from.

Example #2: “Jill”

In this example, Jill, a fictitious person, is a lawyer who owns her own law practice. Here’s a possible profile you might fill out for her.

Key demographics:

  • Age: approx 30-55
  • Education: Masters or higher
  • Job Title: Law Practice Owner, Senior Counsel, General Counsel
  • Location: United States
  • Company Size: 1-10, 11-50 employees

Key Attributes:

  • Goals: Grow the practice and get more paying clients
  • Pain Points: Trouble generating consistent leads
  • Barriers: Not a marketer, doesn’t know how to market the business
  • Actions taken: Ads, direct mail, referrals

If you used this prospect profile, you would know exactly what Jill is thinking, other options she’s been looking at and what she needs. This will help you to not only find her and people like her, but to understand her and see things from her point of view so that you can successfully build rapport and start a business conversation.

Example #3: “Kate”

In our last example, Kate is a fictitious CEO for a well-known travel company who needs better data, faster. Here’s what a relevant prospect profile about her might look like.

Key demographics:

  • Age: approx 35-60
  • Education: Masters or higher
  • Job Title: CEO
  • Location: North America, Europe
  • Company Size: 200-500, 500-1000 employees

Key Attributes:

  • Goals: Find a way to measure company data besides spreadsheets
  • Pain Points: Spreadsheets take too long to make and update and are often unreliable. Not sure that the information presented correlates with other parts of the company.
  • Barriers: Tried systems in the past but the learning curve for everyone in the company to get on board was too great.
  • Actions taken: Online research, interviews with individual company department heads, third party software tools

With this prospect profile, Kate represents any CEO in the travel industry who is frustrated with the amount of data they have to sort through before they can act on it. Kate wants a better and faster way, that’s easier for her and for her employees. If you provide a data solution, knowing this information, what she’s tried in the past, and exactly what kind of frustrations and headaches the problems cause, you can more successfully position yourself as the best solution to help fix those problems.

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