In the age of self-promotion, identity should be just as important as sales. It’s critical to your success — but it shouldn’t take top priority over everything else. There seems to be a disconnect here. As my client John Gadsby puts it, “We are all in this together!”

The relationship between self-promotion and business is an ongoing one. This week I will share five lessons that I learned as part of our online training course on how your sales team can maximize its impact on your company as well as boost your own brand.

1 You Must Have A Clear Mission Statement

Without a clear purpose, you don’t have any direction and your efforts will feel like you’re driving down a bumpy road. We call these insights into our mission statement “Our Purpose Drives Us To Do Great Things” and they help us define the specific reasons why we do what we do. Here’s mine: The Life Insurance Association provides security for millions of American families during times when so much may seem out of reach. Our vision is simple: make life insurance more affordable and accessible for every individual by providing a trusted source where we work as a community dedicated to helping people make informed decisions.

For example: When George Floyd was murdered by law enforcement officers who were called upon to use excessive force. Let’s say a young black man decides he wants to purchase a gun to protect himself from police brutality. What would a financial advisor or banker say? He probably wouldn’t get him the best deal. His employer probably won’t give him benefits because it might look bad on them if they go after an employee who is not involved with their core business. They would also likely want to be seen as sympathetic to the cause. Most importantly, how could someone shop around for a gun when there are multiple options available to them? Your answer is simple: “We provide resources that allow you to choose what makes sense to you at each stage of your journey and at no point are we asking for permission. Every step of the way. No strings attached. Just trust your instincts.”

This approach to marketing has been proven to turn prospects into buyers, making your organization more memorable and creating new opportunities for existing customers to grow even further. But, it’s only helpful if you know how the process works, and what value it adds to everyone. If you don’t, ask yourself who you are trying to reach and what message you’re sending through these channels. Then add your name and make sure you include a good reason behind each choice. For instance, if you have a product with a unique feature for women, you might offer discounts for purchasing jewelry to show off the piece you made and show customers you care about them. Or perhaps you have a service offering a better rate for customer support than other providers, which can increase word of mouth. Once you have a definition of what drives you and your actions in alignment, you have a roadmap to follow, which brings me to my next lesson.

2 Develop One Person That Can Lead On Your Journey

When you’re going to market your services, you might notice that those same clients who used to refer friends to you no longer visit you. Maybe they stopped using social media platforms entirely, changed companies, and moved away or became unemployed. Whatever the case, when this happens, how did you react to them? How many conversations were had? Did you send emails? Do you communicate via text or phone? Is the person receiving your email still following your LinkedIn post after you sent it? Many times, most people don’t respond, even if the content speaks volumes on a topic, and they may respond later. However, sometimes your response isn’t what matters. Instead, consider what your first interaction with that prospect was like: Was it warm or professional? Were they genuinely interested in learning more about who you are and what your background is? At some point, it‘s time to recognize this pattern and create ways to set up a conversation that gives potential clients meaningful information and creates genuine connections. If you think the person you are reaching out to likely doesn’t care enough to learn more about your history or background, or you haven’t done enough research, then they aren’t the type of client you want to talk to. So, take action now! Create a series of messages aimed at educating the person while taking the lead in establishing a dialogue where you both build towards a common goal: improving your sales performance and building rapport.

3 Understand Who Has Seen These Messages Already

When your strategy reaches a certain level of effectiveness, your audience begins to see it. Sometimes these results are measurable; for example, you might find that people are spending less time on Facebook. But just the fact that you’ve created communication with someone who’s already reached this decision means that they want to hear what you’ve said to you, and they are willing to listen. People are often reluctant to open up, especially if they are uncomfortable talking about things that are sensitive, and when the goal isn’t necessarily to sell and make money. Understanding who you are attempting to inspire with your messaging makes it easier to approach.

4 Consider Adding An Additional Channel (Optional)

While knowing that you need to interact with them to create progress, you may decide to stop communicating with them altogether. You may become frustrated by the lack of engagement and maybe even lose interest in continuing with the conversation.

But there’s a problem. While you probably didn’t plan on turning anyone down completely, I would certainly consider expanding the number of interactions you take with others, as long as you are aware that it may hurt the chances of conversion. My advice is to always check back on any new leads, particularly if you have established a solid connection with them, and offer additional support whenever necessary. Think about how you engage with current and former employees and customers alike, whether it’s through events or newsletters, and ensure you continue to keep moving forward with new avenues for engagement. Creating relationships with customers and colleagues helps you stay relevant and valuable to future customers if you have a positive reputation. Whether you decide to hire another salesperson, or simply switch to using something else entirely, make sure to maintain a healthy amount of contacts and keep them coming back. Remember, your overall experience matters more than just selling new products, so aim to continuously offer excellent service — and don’t forget that your reputation comes with loyal fans. Investing extra time in nurturing contacts and maintaining a happy workforce gives you a far greater return on investment, meaning you don’t need to spend hours every day thinking about who you should reach out to next. Be proactive rather than reactive and get ahead of conversations, allowing you to focus on developing your business instead of chasing people.

5 Know When It’s Time To Change The Process

Sometimes, even if you’re enjoying working on what you’ve created so far, it’s tempting to hit the brakes right before launching a major initiative. More often than not, though, letting go of these ideas too soon can result in losing valuable opportunities. Don’t waste precious time chasing after these nagging pieces of data because you just don’t know how to address them. By recognizing that every idea is different, you remove unnecessary hurdles and give yourself access to bigger opportunities, which may just end up being worth the effort. Making adjustments or changing the process slightly can allow for changes that benefit your business and improve performance. For example, imagine having a particular group in your organization develop digital solutions that can streamline processes, save time and cost significantly, but are less prone to error and fraud. Now imagine finding out that your implementation failed. How would you feel? Would you lament to yourself and wonder “Why am I never doing this again?” In fact, you’ll spend a lot less time on the project, and if it meets expectations and meets objectives, you can move onto the next one. Being able to recognize early on that something is wrong can greatly decrease costs and allows you to adjust your entire business model. Even small wins can make a difference.

So, remember how closely related these two areas are. Identify the opportunity, and when you’re ready, take advantage of it. Doing so increases awareness of the importance of your mission and ensures that everyone understands what you stand for.