How to Turn Your Sales Development Teams Into Thought Leaders


Aurelien Mottier
Reading Time: 3 minutes



How to Turn Your Sales Development Teams Into Thought Leaders

Aurelien Mottier

CEO at Operatix

Jeremy Brown

Content Marketing Manager at Crunchbase

By now we’ve all heard about sales thought leaders using personal branding to promote their ideas.

If personal branding — and sales thought leadership — is something you want to break into, where should you start?

We asked that very question to Jeremy Brown, Content Marketing Manager at Crunchbase and Founder at Startups Give Back. He told us about how his 8 years of content marketing experience have helped enterprise and startup teams build thought leadership content.

Let’s get into our conversation about sales thought leadership.

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At the end of the day, we want to buy from people we trust

Jeremy Brown – Content Marketing Manager at Crunchbase

Personal brands beyond execs

 We’re familiar enough with CEOs investing in personal brands to help promote their companies.

“You don’t have to be an executive to be a thought leader,” Jeremy said.

The reason you want to be a thought leader is to build trust — and what better industry is there for trust building than sales?

“Imagine if your sales team had thought leadership within their own networks. Now you don’t have to rely on some of the tactics that salespeople do to sell,” Jeremy said.

When sales professionals are transparent, when they talk about both the pros and the cons (and are upfront about the price), they build trust with their customers.

“At the end of the day, we want to buy from people we trust,” he said.

That’s what sales thought leadership is at its heart: building trust with a particular target audience. 

Caveat: The thought leadership route is not a quick win. It does take time to establish sales thought leadership for an individual or team.

To be effective in thought leadership, you need a combination of transparency and technical knowledge.

“I do weigh transparency over anything else,” Jeremy said, “a person that I trust and is being honest with me, putting me in a position to make the best possible purchasing decision for myself.”

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Valuable content is meant to help that individual get enough information so that they’re confident in making a purchasing decision

Jeremy Brown – Content Marketing Manager at Crunchbase

Building a content-based  “lead generation engine”

Jeremy shared his strategy for how sales professionals can use content to build their own lead generation engine — and ultimately rely less on cold calling and emailing.

Thought leaders have people approach them. The first touch is automatically warmer.

1. Positioning yourself as a consultant

Salespeople are excellent at building trust very quickly. The turning point is when they can build trust as a consultant rather than as a sales professional. 

“The prospects never really look at them as a sales person,” Jeremy explained. “They look at them as someone that they trust would give them information that will be valuable to make a purchase decision.”

This involves telling prospects not to buy when they won’t receive value.

Which hurts, yes, but ultimately promotes the transparency that leads to future sales.

2. Producing valuable content

Valuable content doesn’t mean information about your company, pricing, or products. 

Instead, it’s about blog posts, podcasts, videos, and status updates that explain factors related to the purchase.

“Producing content is meant to help that individual get enough information so that they’re confident in making a purchasing decision,” Jeremy said. 

3. Gaining respect & reputation

The end achievement is sales thought leadership that will bring potential customers to you for advice about purchasing in your industry. 

Not — and this is important — your specific company.

When you gain respect as an authority in your industry, you will also gain sales in your company even while you dissuade some people from buying products and services they don’t need or at the wrong time.

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What’s going to move the needle is producing content that’s very valuable to the people that you’re trying to sell to.

Jeremy Brown – Content Marketing Manager at Crunchbase

Actionable tips for the thought leadership mindset

 Jeremy had encouraging words for launching yourself into sales thought leadership.

  • Platforms. Nearly everything is free right now, so finding a space to establish yourself isn’t costly. LinkedIn,, or your company blog are great places, with LinkedIn being the most trafficked site.
  • Channels. Find a channel that you’re comfortable with. If you’re not a great writer, try video. If you’re camera shy, go with podcasting.
  • Topics. “Audit yourself and what you’re interested in,” Jeremy suggested. If you’re short on sales thought leadership ideas, consult your company’s marketing team.
  • Time. Dedicate some time both to ideate and to produce the content. Once a month or once a quarter is a great way to start, with once a week being the long term target.
  • Personality. If you only share about business, your followers don’t get to know you as a human. Be sure to put a personal spin on your content, too.

Be consistent — and aim for frequency. “Frequency is important in the long run, because being a thought leader, you need to be putting your thoughts out there,” Jeremy said.

Give yourself time to grow your reputation, with the awareness that your sales numbers might fluctuate until you’re established. It’s okay to start slower.

“The more you produce, that might take you away from some of your cold calling,” Jeremy said. “But if you do it right, you will have more people coming to you.”

Lastly, try to be practical, not viral. “What’s going to move the needle is producing content that’s very valuable to the people that you’re trying to sell to,” he said.

Get in touch with Jeremy about sales thought leadership through his handle @socialjeremy across all major social media platforms. 

To hear this interview and many more like it, subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

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About Operatix

Operatix is a Sales Acceleration company specialized in supporting B2B Software vendors to identify new revenue streams, increase qualified sales pipeline, and accelerate channel development across Europe and North America. Operatix has a wealth of experience in working with the biggest tech players worldwide as well as a multitude of emerging software vendors.

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