This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
Your online presence is your surrogate salesperson. She lives there, and she is always working, even when you are sleeping. When your dream clients are looking for you, they find your web presence, your online surrogate.
To make certain your online surrogate salesperson is doing her job, here are some rules to follow.
Rule 1: Don’t Be a Pitch Machine
Your online surrogate shouldn’t be a pitch machine. If all your online presence does is relentlessly point people to your offer, your online surrogate is annoying. This isn’t value creation.
I follow one person who sends dozens of links back to his site each day, each one questioning the validity of his competitor’s products. His online surrogate is standing in a room full of his dream clients screaming: “Buy from me! The other guy sucks! Buy from me! Buy from me!” It’s annoying, and it’s easy to ignore.
Rule 2: Be a Value Creator
If you are a value creator, your online surrogate must also be a value creator. If you are full of wonderful ideas and experiences that help your clients produce better results, that fact must be reflected in your online presence.
You do this by sharing your ideas. The social web thrives on content, and content is made up of ideas. You have to share your insights and experiences in a way that creates value for others.
You are being judged. Are you about you? A pitchman? Or are you about my success and me?
Rule 3: Give Them the Experience
Your dream clients want to know what it will be like to work with you. They want to know what that experience will be like. Your online surrogate has to provide them with an idea as to what that will be like.
Share how you think about your client’s challenges. Share some of the things you do to make a difference for your clients. If you can, share video so your dream clients get an idea of who you are.
Rule 4: Be Found
If you want to be found in real life, your online surrogate has to have a presence in the right places. She needs to live where the people that are looking for you live. Your website is like your corporate office. Your online surrogate has to go out into the social web world and make sales calls.
If you are in B2B sales, this means your surrogate needs to live on LinkedIn, Google Plus, Focus, Quora, and Twitter. If you are in B2C sales, your online surrogate needs to live on Facebook, Google Plus, and probably Pinterest.
Rule 5: Be Professional
Your online surrogate salesperson must be a professional. What you say and do on the web lives there forever. It’s being recorded, and more still, it’s being indexed by search engines and can easily be found.
You might hate someone’s ideas, but flaming them isn’t the right approach. Unless you want people to believe you are a nasty, foul, brutish troll, then don’t start or engage in arguments. When you disagree, write your own professional, polite post as a response instead of unleashing your hostility.
Your online surrogate needs to be a good reflection of who you are. Follow these rules!
What impression does your online presence give your prospective clients?
Is it an effective impression of you as a value creator?
Are you all pitch?
Are you easily found by your dream clients? Do you have a presence where they live?
Is there a trail of embarrassing missteps following you on the web?