The all-important selfie: There’s the hair, angle and look. Do you smile or go for the serious stare? Nostalgic Valencia or dramatic X-Pro II? People will plan their shot, anticipate the details, execute with persistence and then critique the hell out of it—adjusting here and there until they’ve created the “ever-so-important” image.

While there’s a certain humor to the selfie phenomenon, there’s also a great lesson in it. Instagram selfies are hunting for likes. As a salesperson, you’re competing for customers. Imagine if you spent just a  few hours a week mastering the art of your sales selfie? Let’s translate.

  1. Own your picture-perfect shot – Everyone needs a go-to profile photo—whether it’s a professional shot for LinkedIn or that awesome photo of you speaking on a sales panel, you need an impeccable “why me” to provide a clear, concise and memorable value proposition. You also need the anytime ability to deliver your on-target message whenever the opportunity arises. This isn’t a generic group shot from your website. It’s personal, unique and relays genuine value on behalf of the customer. I had a boss years ago who made us present our value prop (twice!) while holding a burning match. Seems a bit harsh looking back on it now, but damn, I had my go-to nailed. Perfect yours.
  2. Get camera ready – Not knowing you have a ketchup stain on your shirt or that there’s a big trash dumpster behind you in the shot is like not knowing anything about the person or company you’re calling. If the picture is worth taking – and the prospect is worth calling on – then commit to doing it well. Spend a few research minutes to personalize your approach. Basic market info on the customer’s company? Don’t ask a prospect to tell you what you should already know. Focus your time on discovering root pain points and underlying needs. Looking to build a personal rapport? Connect your value prop to their background or known business interests.
  3. Work your angles – Selfie experts say chin slightly down and camera a bit higher than face level ensures your features are more streamlined. In sales, you need to know how to make the most of the angles within your reach. It’s amazing to me how many salespeople give up after one or two sales approaches. Phone call wasn’t answered? Email wasn’t returned? Change your angle. Research consistently tells us that a typical sales prospect requires 8-12 follow-ups. Look for other ways to connect. Mail a thought leadership piece. Comment on their blog. Look to Twitter or a mutual connection on LinkedIn. And my favorite? Go old school with a handwritten note.
  4. Have a solid light source – From overexposure and blinding sunlight to unrecognizable shadowy images, the quality of your lighting matters. Ensuring a solid light source is an essential part of creating a good selfie, just like safeguarding a balanced and disciplined business development approach is vital to sustained success. In sales, inconsistency kills. It’s the root cause of roller coaster performance and the feast or famine cycle. The reality is, sales can be incredibly taxing sometimes and motivation can waver. Push through the daily grind. Plan your work. Work your plan.
  5. Smile with your eyes – True selfie “aficionados” often talk about mastering of the Duchenne smile, and while that may sound fancy to everyday phototakers, it simply means to smile with your eyes as well as your mouth. It’s a natural, authentic expression…and it’s contagious. When you embody and exhibit genuine optimism, you create a positive energy that affects your own inner-voice as well as the perceptions of those around you. Celebrate your wins, but have fun with your losses too. No complaining. No excuse making. You’re going to hear “No” more often than “Yes” in sales (3 to 1, in fact), so find a way to smile. Need a sign in your office reminding you that you survived Y2K or the Mayan End of Days? Hang one. Yeah, sometimes it’s the little things that remind us to keep focused on where we’re going and what lies ahead. Start by smiling at the “Nos”.

Our selfie culture clearly generates some good, some bad and some (really) ugly. But remember two things—more people were killed taking selfies last year than in shark attacks, and the lessons of the selfie phenomenon really do live beyond a salesperson’s Insta feed.

Invest time and focus into mastering the art of your sales selfie. The results you post will be worth your efforts.