Keeping up with the ever-changing dynamics of sales is not as easy as you think. Combined with a recession that’s thawing out unpredictable and wary consumers, running a company and brand in this economy is no easy task.

Below are three rules for your brand to stay ahead in sales and marketing. As we ride out of the recession into 2010, it’s more important than ever to create a stronger, healthier brand.

Rule #1: Brand: Be Real.

Your brand is a direct reflection of your business. It’s expressed verbally, visually and emotionally in everything you do. Your reputation depends on how your customers think and feel about your brand and like a person, it has its own character. The more you demonstrate your true value as a company, the more you will build trust and loyalty with your customers.

A healthy brand is easy to relate to and will stay relevant to your market. Don’t over inflate or follow “me too” trends that ultimately distort your honesty. Authenticity is core to successful brand customer relationships. Taking a lesson taught in elementary school, simply just be yourself.

Rule #2: MarketING: Make Connections.

Capture market share over time by caring for your existing/former customers, employees, partners and vendors first. It’s from these connections that you’ll attract new customers. Consistent ongoing marketing communication keeps your brand ahead of others. When you’re prospecting new customers or building your network, focus on the long-term relationship, not the short-term sale.

Make connections. You need the roots to have the fruits.

Rule #3 Sell: Listen First.

A well scripted “pitch” with a great offer is good, but a salesperson that really listens to the customer is better. If you tell a prospect too much about the many features, benefits and unique selling points, there’s really no room left to relate your product or service to their unique wants and needs.

Create space for the customer to connect to what you are selling in their own time. Try asking thought-provoking questions that educate and engage the prospect. Then, truly listen. The more they talk, the more sales you’ll close.

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