How to build a personal brand recall value?
And why is it important?
Few years back, I was talking to a CXO about personal brand recall value. Many product vendors would approach him regularly to sell their products. He was frustrated that most sales people start the meeting with a set pitch without any effort to understand the context or needs. They have an agenda of selling the product or service and meeting the revenue number without going into the details of challenges being faced by the organization.
In the IT services industry, this behavior is common. We, the consultants, go into customer meetings with a set agenda and a shiny presentation and just start with it. It finishes without an outcome or a deal. We don’t make efforts to understand their pain points and challenge them enough to think differently to solve those problems with our solution. We don’t have any recall value after that conversation. It was ‘business as usual’ for the customer — one hour wasted in a meeting and the customer having no recollection of it afterwards!
What is a recall value?
In the marketing world, a brand recall is a likelihood of an instant recollection of a brand when a consumer is presented with any associated product, service, or a connection.
Recall value is a critical aspect of any conversation. Why would someone listen to you, invest in the conversation and remember you afterwards? Did you make that person question their assumptions or relook at their decision-making process? Was it a stimulating conversation? Did you make your content contextual to their business problem or was it the same presentation that you used 100 times earlier? What were the takeaways? In most cases, we don’t think about these aspects and end up having a business-as-usual conversation.
How to ensure personal recall value with specific techniques
Building recall value is an art. Every meeting, every interaction, small or big — it is important to have a recall value. It may not always be possible to think upfront about it. You may not get time to prepare before every customer meeting. But one can always strive for it by following simple guidelines.
- Start with WHY. Ask up front about the key challenges customers are facing and why they are seeking a solution. Tune your pitch to address that aspect. Never use boilerplate slides without customer-specific context added in it.
- Begin with WHAT. A slide at the beginning of the pitch about “what we heard…” will help in clarifying the assumptions made and correcting them with customers if required.
- Storify with WHERE. Tell stories of where you have done this successfully. Be genuine and explain about the challenges you faced and how your solution managed to address them. Never share the case studies as it is; form stories while doing a walkthrough of case studies.
- End with HOW to proceed next and summarize the outcomes. Leave the customer with few open-ended thoughts, some challenging questions or a feeling of empathy that we truly understand their issues.
This process solidifies with experience and time. At times it is hard to challenge the other person or engage in a meaningful conversation. Or it is not possible to build on some cues in the discussion. You may not know the full context. I have had my fair share of meetings where I could not or did not follow above guidelines and ended up with an unproductive meeting with no further follow up. But having these guidelines handy reminds me to think hard and prepare better!
If your job does not include customer interaction, it is still important to understand why personal brand recall value is important. I remember a candidate I interviewed a few months back. After initial discussions, he started with his set of questions. He asked me many stimulating questions about my journey, how to build a brand, climb the corporate ladder, and how to become a keynote speaker etc. It wasn’t a one-sided discussion between a candidate and interviewer. He clearly wanted to learn from someone senior in the industry and he was using the interview as a chance to do just that. He had a recall value — I still remember that discussion and that candidate due to a refreshing and stimulating conversation in an interview setup.