There is a proven way to increase your exposure and grow your clientele. How? By learning how to build a personal brand.
This week on INSIDE Inside Sales, Darryl is joined by the founder of Create the Brand and marketing advisor extraordinaire, Kenyetta Gordon. Darryl and Kenyetta discuss some actionable advice on how you can improve the visibility of your brand and attract more clients. They also offer simple ways to create content, as well as valuable tips on winning more deals by employing empathy. Learn how to be your own walking billboard on this episode of INSIDE Inside Sales!
Host: Darryl Praill, VanillaSoft
Guest: Kenyetta Gordon, Create The Brand
Darryl Praill: My friends, how are you doing today? Did you like that long pause there? That’s me collecting my thoughts, you know, that’s me going, “What do I wanna talk about?” You know, I don’t wanna mislead you, I often have no idea what I’m going to say when I start my little opening riff. Cause I, the favorite part of my show, beyond the amazing guests I get to meet, I do enjoy this opening riff. I’ve said that before, sorry for repeating myself. The opening riff is always inspired by my guest, and you’re gonna meet my guest shortly.
Darryl Praill: The other day I was going through, well, you know, I was on social media, go figure me. And in this case, I was on Facebook, and you get the memories come up, and pictures and whatnot, and you go, “I’m not gonna share that again, what was I thinking?” But there was a memory of me there, as a teenager and I was in really bad 1970’s Adidas shorts that were not flattering at all. And I had really big-ass glasses on, and, you know, I was that awkward teenager that just was not appealing to the opposite sex. That’s all I’m gonna say, you read into it, there you go. Some might say I’m still there, but that’s aside. And it was like, “Wow, that’s what I looked like, how did I ever date anybody in high school looking that way?” It’s funny.
Darryl Praill: So then you fast forward and when I started my career, and, you know, in those days it wasn’t the cool, hip tech days of now where everybody’s sitting in an open-air concept, you know, office with lofty, you know, environments and recycled wood beams and exposed brick. In those days, we had real offices, and we actually, you know, somewhat dressed up for work, you know. So I remember my wife and I going and shopping and buying me various clothes. And my wife’s an interior designer; if you’ve not met her before, I’ve featured her a few times on some videos on LinkedIn, so she knows color. You know, I now color too, as a marketer, but candidly she may know color better.
Darryl Praill: I’ll never admit that to her, just so we’re clear in that, and she would help me pick out clothes, and I looked, you know, my suit and my tie and the tie was, it would pop, it was all good. It would kinda pop, it was a conservative pop, cause that’s what you did in those days. And then, you know, as my career started to take off and I started to really move forward in my marketing career, marketing right. A little more bold, a little more statement driven, it’s about your personal brand, right. I started making more eclectic, more vibrant, more audacious choices in clothing.
Darryl Praill: And I would bring them home and model them for my wife, and she would be upset. She was like, “I would never pick that up for you.” And she was like, “That doesn’t go with that.” And I’m like, “Well, actually it does.” “No, it doesn’t.” And we would look at ties, I’m making her sound like an ogre, by the way, she’s not. She would pick out these sophisticated, classy, timeless ties. And I would say, I wanna be like boom! That’s all you see, is this pop of yellow on your face or pop of red or pop of blue, like vibrant, see me coming from a mile away.
Darryl Praill: And she’s like, “Why?” And I’m like because I’m in marketing and in marketing, I gotta have a good brand. If I don’t have a good brand, how credible will I be in marketing? So, you know, then, you know, the career goes on, and social media goes poof, and it’s like everywhere. And then it’s like, well, then I gotta get, you know, the headshot. But I don’t want the normal headshot. I want a good headshot. I wanna look appealing. I wanna look attractive. I wanna look laid back yet confident. So we would have all these debates about what is the right photo look like.
Darryl Praill: And then we would go, and I would debate about, you know, what’s my bio saying? What’s my LinkedIn profile really saying? Are the right keywords there? Do I look credible? Do I look smart? Will I be found? Cause a good marketer is also looking like, you know, stuff in the keywords, make sure you get found. Well, people, what’s your first impression, you know, of me? Then I’ll have these little mini focus groups of friends and family and say, what do you think of this, and what do you think of that? Yada, so it goes on. Most recently, and if you’re watching the video version of this, you will know what I’m talking about. Most recently, I had to go buy some new glasses. And you know, most people do okay, well, here’s a set of glasses, here you go, life is good. I’m like, no, no, nay, nay. I need my Corporate Darryl glasses, where I walk around the office.
Darryl Praill: But then I need these puppies that I’m wearing right now, those bold, vibrant in your face. All you go is like, wow, is that those glasses, they’re cool. At least hopefully, you think they’re cool. If you don’t let me know, please. I don’t wanna make a bigger fool of myself. Everywhere along the way here, what am I doing? If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am hyper-focused on my own personal brand, because how I appear to others, whether it’s visual or written, audio like this, how others talk of me on a referral, like a sales deal or about a possible individual to help you out, like a consultant or an advisor. All of that has to do with me, and my style and my brand, whether you like it or not, many people are making judgment calls on that.
Darryl Praill: I recognized that I was a walking billboard for me. And then once I got in and was able to open my mouth and talk to them, then hopefully they saw there was substance behind the veneer. So I was explicitly non apologetically, leveraging every tool and tactic I had to make myself look like a credible player. It is awful. Why are we so shallow? But at the same time, I kinda like looking nice. I kinda like cool glasses. I kinda like, you know, following the trends, I kinda like being hip. My kids would say, “Dad, anybody uses the word hip is not hip.” What do they know?
Welcome Kenyetta Gordon
Darryl Praill: So with all that said, I thought, you know, I had a conversation this week with a colleague, we met for coffee, and we debated about, well, what does personal brand even mean? He completely disagreed with me, that’s okay. I’m gonna bring him on for a video in a little while, where you can be the judge. But in the meantime, what have I done? I went and got Kenyetta Gordon.
Darryl Praill: Do you know Kenyatta Gordon? Have you met her? Let’s bring Kenyetta on, while she’s coming on, Kenyetta is with Create The Brand. She is basically an executive communication and a brand development advisor. She’s all about this, are you your walking billboard? She’s gonna be talking about this at the OutBound Conference, OutBoundConference.com, coming up in Atlanta. May. So, we get a prelude. If you can’t make the conference, listen to this, cause there’s gonna be some overlap at the conference in this. But if you like this, you should go to the conference and really watch what she says when she has more time. And then you can corner her and buy her drinks and make her talk, that’s what you should be doing. Kenyetta, welcome to the show.
Kenyetta Gordon: Hello, thank you. I’m so ecstatic to be here today and to talk with your audience on becoming their walking billboard.
Darryl Praill: So let’s just jump into that right away, jump into it. When you say their walking billboard, you knew, you heard me ramble, and maybe my ramble has nothing to do with them, and I’m on drugs, and it’s very possible. But what do you mean when you say, you know, their walking billboard?
Kenyetta Gordon: So it’s funny, what you were saying in the end. I always say, when you look good, you feel good.
Darryl Praill: Yeah, it’s true.
Kenyetta Gordon: And people who wanna do business, they look like, and those they wanna be like. But being your walking billboard, in marketing, you know, when we’re doing ads, right. When we’re placing an ad before we just, I mean, not an ad, but a billboard before we place a billboard, we wanna see the demographics, right. So we wanna know who, how many people walk in that area? The age range, the type of potential clients that may be walking that area. How much are they making, right? So being a walking billboard is about positioning yourself in the right places that have your potential type of clienteles, right. But it’s not just about being seen. It’s also about being heard, you know, are you communicating unused but usable content? And then it’s also about being relatable.
Kenyetta Gordon: So I always say it’s about what the people hear, see, and feel when they interact with you online and offline. You know, we are in a day and age wherein the 1980s, we’re not in the 1980s and 1990s where we had to go to our aunt and uncle and say, “Look, I need somebody to give me some insurance.” And so they refer you to their insurance because you all, they really knew what they, you know, what somebody who somebody referred to you. Now we’re in a smartphone day and age where we have a world of information via our phones, right in our hands. And we don’t have to just trust those sales professionals that come to us and tell us, you know, you need this product because of XYZ. No, we can do our own research on our phone. And that’s where you become now, you either decide to make yourself the choice or the option. So that’s what being walking billboard is about.
Darryl Praill: I’m writing that one down. No, I’m writing that one down, the choice, or the option. I’m loving that. Okay, so let’s, so Kenyatta is talking marketing, and everybody who’s listening here right now, of course, sales folks are all saying, but what, Praill, what’s up with the marketing speak? Let me translate this if you didn’t get it, what she’s putting down and why you should listen to this, all right. She talked about, you know, the billboard. She said, what about before you build your billboard? When you do, you research it, right, you research it. So you sales folks, right, what do you do? You go, you research your target audience. Then she says, you know, you wanna know who you’re targeting all right. Your ideal customer profile, right sales folks, who is it I want to connect with?
Kenyetta Gordon: Right.
Darryl Praill: Right, you’re, you don’t put a billboard, you know, in a rich neighborhood if you’re targeting a middle-class manufacturing neighborhood, for example, right. That’s the billboard analogy. It’s no different than you when it comes to sales. What I love, what she said was you’re doing that because you’re positioning yourself to get found, being seen, and being heard. I’ve talked about personal brand before. And I say, why do you do it? You do it to be seen and be heard and get found. Why do I stuff my LinkedIn profile with keywords? Why should you not be stuffing your LinkedIn profile? To get found. That’s about your brand. All of this is branding. She said something really powerful there. She said you wanna be relatable, all right.
Darryl Praill: Well, my goodness folks, if your sales prospect connects with you, they relate to you, what happens? That means fear goes down. Risk goes down, trust goes up. You wanna be relatable, tie it back to your brand. You want to be the choice or the option. All of this is about saying, you know, you can have the best, you know, opening conversation on that, when the answer that cold call, you may know how to do discovery like there’s no tomorrow. You may know how to upsell. You may know how to close and bring the deal home. But at its essence, what do people do? They buy from you. So you gotta package you up, you need to be your walking billboard. So, we are, we’re gonna take a quick little break and go to a commercial. And then Kenyetta and I are gonna go into a blow by blow of what you need to know and do to achieve that goal. Don’t go anywhere, we’ll be right back.
How to Build a Personal Brand
Darryl Praill: Okay, let’s do it. Let’s just open ourselves up and talk about personal branding. This is not me talking, cause I am a big advocate of this, so I don’t want you to say Praill you’re biased. This is the woman who’s gonna be at OutBound, all right. Everybody thinks she’s really smart nobody thinks I’m smart, so listen to her. All right, Kenyetta, what’s the first thing we need to be aware of in the pursuit of being our own walking billboard?
Kenyetta Gordon: Okay, so I’m very, my pet peeve is going places and receiving bad customer service or a salesperson being a typical car salesperson, just push, push to sell, right. Like I said earlier, we have a world of information in our hands, so I don’t have to use you. So tell me, I mean, why should I use you? You know, and we’re in a world where everyone is like, it’s all about me. So it’s about becoming relatable. But the first thing that I always say is using unused but usable content.
Kenyetta Gordon: Before someone comes to you, they’re doing their research, right. So they’re surfing the web all day, all night for probably about two, three, maybe a whole month before they actually come to you. And they probably have questions that they need answered, that they’re not getting answered. They’re getting, a lot of times what we do as sales professionals, we get the same questions over and over. I mean, same answers, over and over again, you know, same content.
Darryl Praill: Yeah.
Kenyetta Gordon: And it becomes redundant, right, and then you begin to sound like, sound robotic. But what makes you that authoritative figure is figuring out, okay, when someone actually comes and finally sits in front of you, or you get them on the phone, and they’re asking you specific questions that you’ve never really given when you did video content online or use those same questions and create content for that online. No one else is giving that, obviously because they had to call you to get that information. So imagine if they’re asking you that question, imagine that, how many other people are out there with the same question in mind, right.
Darryl Praill: So I wanna interrupt you because I don’t wanna interrupt you, but I do wanna interrupt you because I’ll share with you one of the biggest questions I get from people. They’ll say, you know, Praill I’m not you, you seem to have lots of opinions on lots of things. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to write. And I’ve got this, you know, whether it’s writer’s block or just, I don’t know how to start. And I’m like, oh my goodness people, it’s so easy. Were you on a sales call today? Yes, did you have an objection? Yes, write about it. How did you handle it? Well, I did this, write about it, you know, how did you get them to be on a sales call? I did this, write about it. I’m like, this is all, what’s so obvious to you, people wanna know about
Kenyetta Gordon: Right, and to us it makes, it seems like it’s like, okay, that’s really easy or common sense, but it’s because we’re the professionals, you know.
Darryl Praill: Right.
The Empathy, Sympathy, and Compassion Sandwich
Kenyetta Gordon: We’ve been doing this on an everyday basis, 24/7, but to the common person, it’s not, you know, so using that unused but usable content, that’s what makes you, positions you to become that authoritative figure, you know. So the next thing I always say is the simple method, I call it, the sandwich method of your delivery: becoming relatable. Consumers or clients want you to be relatable. Not just, like I said earlier, not to sell, sell me. Okay, get to know me, you know, don’t make me seem as though I’m just a Dollar on your monthly end goal, you know.
Kenyetta Gordon: So get to know who your client is when you begin to speak to them, like, or when you first introduce yourself to them. Say you’re in person at a networking event, find out a little bit about them, why they’re here, you know, and then tailor what you have your services to their needs, you know. So, I call it my simple sandwich method, sympathy versus empathy, plus compassion. Majority of the time, we leave out the empathy, right, and we just go from sympathy to compassion. And sympathy is just, oh, I’m sorry, but you know what, I have the solution for you, okay. So now it’s like, okay, you’re just trying to sell me something and, all right. So now I went from the problem to the solution.
Kenyetta Gordon: But now, when you add the empathy in there, it’s like, oh my gosh, that’s your, okay, I have the same problem that you have. And this is, let me tell you how I got through that, you know. So you’re saying, I’m sorry that you’re going through this, but let me tell you about a situation that I had or someone’s situation that I helped them with. And then now, the compassion is, the compassion seals the deal, that’s the sale right there. So, you get it.
Darryl Praill: I get what you’re saying, but I love what you’re saying. I wanna emphasize this, is Kenyatta is talking about, you know, everything she just described, she set it up, she said be relatable. In other words, let me be a little more bold and direct, she’s being very polite. It’s not about you. Yes, we know you want to close the deal. Have some patience, all right. Actually listen to them, demonstrate some sympathy, add some empathy in there, add the compassion.
Darryl Praill: She talked about how, oh my goodness, yeah I know you have that problem, I had that problem too! Or maybe in your case, it’s oh my goodness, well, my client so and so had that problem too. And let me tell you what we ended up doing for them. Maybe you can learn from them, and if you want to, I can actually hook you up with them, you can swap stories. Full disclosure, part of their solution was to use, you know, my product or my service. But you know, it was more than that. But since they’ve done that, this is the outcome they’re experiencing now, you know. So that is relatable.
Kenyetta Gordon: Right.
Darryl Praill: So what, you talk about the sandwich method, so I’m assuming there’s something on the outside, and something in the middle. So what’s in the outside and what’s in the middle? Just so everybody’s clear.
Kenyetta Gordon: So you have your sympathy, it’s the outside layer of the bread.
Darryl Praill: Yeah.
Kenyetta Gordon: The empathy is the meat, and you have to close it with the compassion and the other bread.
Darryl Praill: There you go.
Kenyetta Gordon: And now you eat.
Darryl Praill: Now you eat. I love it! You get, you make yourself the right sandwich, you’re gonna eat, and eat good all right. I love it.
Kenyetta Gordon: And it’s all about just delivering that customer experience, you know, and create that brand. I say brand loyalty is trust and the experience. You wanna create brand loyalty, and when you have a loyal client, loyal customer, they become referring clients. So then now you have continuous return on revenue, you know, but I always say, because I’m so big on the customer experience, and one person that I guess he may not have known that he was doing this 60 years ago, or way before social media even came about. I always say, Truett Cathy, he is like, to me, a big influence on it. Cause when you think about Truett Cathy, you think about Chick-Fil-A, right?
Darryl Praill: Yep.
Kenyetta Gordon: From the beginning, he decided that he was not, I would say, no one comes to you for, no one becomes a loyal client because of an ad. They become a loyal client because of the direct contact, right, the experience that you deliver. And whenever you go to Chick-Fil-A, whatever you had to say about them politically, you can never say that the experience there is not one that is so memorable that, you know, you’ve, I’ve never known anyone to complain about Chick-Fil-A. I say, if you complain about Chick-Fil-A, then you messed up the order, you know.
Darryl Praill: It’s true. What I kinda paraphrasing here is, you know, be the authority, create the content. You want to use the sandwich method, and then that way, you can help create memorable customer experiences.
Looking the Part
Darryl Praill: So let me, now, are there other steps to this, or is that the high level?
Kenyetta Gordon: That’s the beginning step. There’s so many parts to are you your walking billboard? Like I said, it goes back to what you initially were talking about in the introduction — looking the part.
Darryl Praill: Yes.
Kenyetta Gordon: People wanna do what those they look like and those they wanna be like. You can’t say that I wanna work with certain corporate companies that only, the annual revenue is 800,000, but you are walking up, but you’re not looking the part, you know.
Darryl Praill: Right, I’ve heard yeah.
Kenyetta Gordon: So you have to make sure that you look the part also, that’s a part of any walking billboard. I always tell the story of when I first started my business. As females, we are so bombarded down with like children and working and cooking everything else that we start letting ourselves go, right. And so I began to do that also, like letting myself go and my job. I went to school for fashion marketing also, right, so I was always a fashion girl. And then eventually I was like, you know what, I’m not getting the clientele that I want. Hold on, I’m not looking the part. So then I had to start switching up and going back to the old me and looking the part, wearing the suits that I needed to wear to be in the arenas that were my potential clientele, you know, so that’s a part of it.
Darryl Praill: So what’s really interesting here, so Kenyetta talks about looking the part all right, and I talked about that too, but I wanna be clear on this, all right. So looking the part doesn’t necessarily mean clothing. Clothing is certainly one way to look the part.
Kenyetta Gordon: Right.
Darryl Praill: It ties back to her point about creating content and become the authority. You look the part, optically if I see you on social or a blog or a website or whatever, you know, speaking on topics as an authority, as a subject matter expert, you look the part, and they’re gonna come to you.
Kenyetta Gordon: Right.
Darryl Praill: And say, I’ve got this problem, can you help me out? So that’s, I love that.
Subconscious Behaviors and Self-Awareness
Darryl Praill: Now, one of the challenges I find though, Kenyatta, I would love your opinion on this, is sometimes people don’t always, you don’t have enough, let’s call it self-actualization, to understand where they’re strong and where they’re weak, and what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. So they can do this, so what do I do in that case? How do I coach myself? Maybe I’m not self-aware, or how do I coach my colleagues?
Kenyetta Gordon: Okay, I’m glad you brought that up cause it goes back to something I always say. A lot of times, we don’t recognize our subconscious behaviors. And there’s an exercise that I like to do, which is actually in my book, the My Manifestation Playbook, where I say one of the steps to becoming, to building your brand or building your goals is to actually write down all of your subconscious behaviors. Ask a colleague or a family member or something like, how did you feel when you first met me? You know, or a lot of times, me, it’s like getting on social media, I’ll be in the middle of doing something, and I get on social media.
Kenyetta Gordon: So asking questions on how people feel when they first met you. What type of content would you like to hear that I’m not delivering to you? And you write those things down. And so, you have to make your subconscious behavior, conscious to yourself, and then you’ll start. Every time you begin to do those things, or you’re not doing those things, you’re like, oh goodness. Cause it also deals with gestures, you know, a lot of times when I’m on camera, I’m like, oh my God, I did that again, you know.
Darryl Praill: Yes.
Kenyetta Gordon: My head’s too much, too high, or you know, things like that. People see that it’s about gestures and everything, you know, so, it’s making yourself aware of your subconscious behaviors.
Darryl Praill: That is so true, you know, I have been blessed to have some very trusted advisors, including my wife, who will be candid with me. Now, they don’t run out and say, Praill, you sucked, and this is why. But if I go to them and say, okay, I really want your honest opinion on this. And they’ll say, you do? Yes, I do, I’m a big boy, I can handle it. Okay, I like this and this, but not a fan of that. Cool, why? All right and then, but here’s what I’ll do folks. And you may wanna use this or not, but this is what I do. Everybody’s got an opinion, accept that. Not every opinion is shared universally, so never assume that. So when I get feedback, I do look to see, I ask multiple people to see if there’s a consensus. That’s the first part I do.
Kenyetta Gordon: Right.
Darryl Praill: And then, what I start to do is I start to do some AB testing, all right. So in this situation, I’m gonna test the old behavior, and this situation, I’ll test the new behavior. And then I’m gonna watch the results. That’s easily done on your emails and your social media posts on how you work on a phone call, how you talk to somebody at a live event, or at a networking gig. Test AB. For me, I am an introvert, I’m a quiet guy, but when I’m on these conversations here, I’m like this, you know why? Because I’ve learned, that’s what I need to do to really engage with people. Cause my wife told me specifically when I don’t do that, I’m just sitting here with my docile face, listening to you, that sometimes I look intimidating, and people are scared of me. And I’m like, I’m all five foot eight, what the hell is to be scared of me? And then well it’s what you look like. Okay, so I learned to smile more.
Darryl Praill: So all those kinda little things, self-aware changes, your brand changes what you’re projecting, and also makes you more approachable. We haven’t talked about being approachable. My gosh, we keep on going. Kenyetta, we’re running out of time, but is there any final thoughts? Cause here’s the kicker folks, if you go to OutBound, she’s gonna go into so much detail on this, way more than we’re doing here. So that’s the teaser. That’s the carrot, go to OutBound. But for somebody who’s listening to this, if there’s one piece of actionable advice you can give them so their walking billboard can be more effective, just one, maybe two, what would it be?
Kenyetta Gordon: Let me end it with this little story, okay. How I came up with are you a walking billboard? I, too, myself, I’m an only child, very introverted, and anytime I was going to networking events, I would always have to ask a friend of mine, “Would you go with me to this networking event?” And then when I get there, I would have to have like a glass or two of wine before I can loosen up and you know, and speak to anyone, introduce myself. And then eventually I was like, my business is not growing because I look timid. I won’t go to anything by myself. And then, so I made myself, I challenged myself and for the next, for a whole year, I could not, 12 months, I couldn’t ask anyone to go with me to any networking events. And when I went there, I couldn’t have a glass of wine until after I’ve met like three people. And so I became my walking billboard. I, like you said, looked at how I smiled and everything else like that. So I became a walking billboard, and to this day, guess what, I am now sitting on INSIDE Inside Sales. And I will be at OutBound because I became my walking billboard.
Darryl Praill: That is a wonderful story to end it on. She set achievable goals, she held herself accountable, and then she made it happen, and it was bam. I love it, walking billboard. That’s Kenyatta Gordon. You can check her out at Createthebrand.co. Go there, wonderful website. In the meantime, she’s gonna be at OutBound. You should go check her out. Kenyetta, thank you for your time today.
Kenyetta Gordon: Thank you for having me. I really enjoyed it.
Darryl Praill: All right, we’re done… for another week! Take care, we’ll see you soon. My name is Darryl Praill, this is INSIDE Inside Sales.