How to Identify Top Sales Skill Training Influencers

Books, classes and conferences are not the only venues for sales skill training. Sometimes the greatest teaching resources are the top power players in any field. By identifying, reading about, listening to, interacting with or merely following these influencers on social media, sales professionals can benefit from the experience and wisdom of experts.

Forging relationships with industry leaders exposes you to off-the-record strategies that experts have gained by trial and error during the toil of their own personal and professional experiences. Such knowledge trickles out casually and informally as they chat and spend time with people. Another benefit of identifying these opinion leaders is that some of them just might be viable sales leads, or at least valuable referral sources.

Keep your ears open to the worthy oracles in your field, and consider the following factors.

1.       Media Mentions

Every salesperson should cultivate the daily habit of reading the leading industry magazines or blogs.  However, general and faithful reading won’t always allow you to zero in on all key developments, quotes and interviews from significant thought-shapers. It’s best to use systems like Google Alerts to track specific keywords for your industry. That way whenever specific topics are discussed in the news, you will be informed. From those alerts, be conscious of who the go-to experts are; they will be the ones regularly quoted and respected across different media outlets. Make a list of such leaders.  Then, set up alerts specifically for those people as well as their companies.

2.       Social Authority

Certain experts have cult-like followings that circulate the experts’ dogma and views on places like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media.  By being in the loop with the popular leaders who drive discussions on social platforms, sales professionals can augment their sales skill training.   To identify social leaders, look at the number of followers, sharing rates and composite rankings done by websites like Klout.

Social media research tools can make measuring social authority very easy. To verify quality of followers and weed out people with too many fake followers, use sites such as Twitter Audit or Status People’s fake follower check.  To measure which leaders have their posts read and shared the most, consider Brook Daily and Followerwonk.  According to Businessweek, Klout, Little Bird and Telligence  do a helpful job of ranking the most powerful influencers by using factors such as audience size as well as activity.

3.       Testimonials from peers and clients

The best leaders win over not only their industry peers but also their past and current clients.  So, investigate the reputation of influencers by reading testimonies from colleagues and customers.

4.       Organization Network Analysis (ONA) Surveys

Certain assessment agencies use surveys and formulas to identify what professionals or teams of professionals are having the most impact at any company. It’s not always the top executives. ONA measurement tools can help salespeople discover who’s really making an impact in product development, sales or marketing.

5.       Size and influence of the company

If a brand is led by true innovators, it will grow in size and power. Before considering anyone a leader, assess the growth, scope and performance of his company in the market.  Look at the fluctuations in profit, stock price and capital as well as the number of employees or offices.  Tools to use include the Fortune 500 list, investment materials and LinkedIn data.

6.       Industry Awards

Usually, every industry has a body that recognizes its best by handing out annual awards during some sort of industry recognition event. Attend these and glean not just who the major go-getters are, but also what out-of-the-box actions they are doing and what new techniques, technology or developments they are leveraging in the field.  Immersing yourself in an atmosphere where excellence is saluted is one of the most important things you can do for sales skill training.

Once sales professionals and marketers have successfully identified industry influencers and built relationships with some, they will see their own sales power start to evolve. They will be on track to become future influencers themselves.


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