Thought Leaders are recognized by peers for having innovative ideas. Thought leaders often publish articles and blog posts on trends and topics influencing an industry. That being said you usually have much more success in a sales conversation if you are a thought leader.
Here is an example. Let's say you want to get some new business and you find out a great industry related trade show is coming to town. How are you going to get the most qualified prospect to talk to you? One way is to rent a space, get a branded booth fill it with sales people and give them branded collateral to hand out.
This isn't a bad approach and if done well you might get some great business out of it. You will however have to weed through a bunch of crap leads as well and this is quite time consuming. Now how could you be more efficient with your business development activities?
What if you planned several months before the event to reach the event planners or the organization putting on the seminars and get on the list of speakers. Imagine if you are presenting at the event. What would this do for your credibility? You'd probably get a line waiting for you at the end of each presentation with qualified connections raising their hands and saying, "we would like to talk about…".
Beyond this, your name would be included in multiple promotional items. Items going out to people and handouts that are going home with people so the opportunity is even greater that you'll get bigger exposure and be thought of as an industry expert.
This is the difference of going from the top down instead of from the bottom up when it comes to sales and prospecting. How are you able to become a thought leader? What are better ways for you to work from the top down? Share ideas below in comments.