An incredible number of business books on the market detail the rise of successful sales leaders and how to emulate their amazing results. But what these books don’t tell you is that the leaders’ success didn’t happen because they followed a set “recipe.” Often the most important factor is their authentic selling style. And someone else’s authenticity is almost impossible to mimic.
What is selling authentically? Doing anything authentically means taking action that is in line with your values. In sales, it means recognizing the factors that align your values with those of your prospects and resulting in a sale. If you are selling with someone else’s sales formula that doesn’t align with your values, your prospects will sense something is not right and put up barriers.
When you’re not selling authentically, internally you may feel you’re not being genuine; or you may have a sense of disconnect or incongruence. There may be uncomfortable twinges in the pit of your stomach or your words sound hollow and unenthusiastic when talking to prospects. In some cases, the voice of your own conscious will be loudly telling you what you’re doing isn’t right.
Externally it manifests itself as not listening to the prospect and selling based on your agenda rather than theirs. Perhaps you’re not targeting those prospects who would genuinely benefit from your product, preferring the scatter-gun approach and selling to everyone who crosses your path. Or you may even catch yourself behaving in a way you never normally would, such as pushing or bullying a prospect to make a decision. All of these are indications that something is awry.
How can you sell more authentically?
1. Inject Your Personality
You have to be professional, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your personality. Trying to be like someone else or behaving in a way you perceive is “businesslike” often results in a lack of sincerity that prospects pick up on. Personality can go a long way in making someone feel comfortable, and that’s half the battle when selling anything; so let a little of your unique spirit into your sales pitches.
2. Don’t Put on a Fake Front
Do you ever tell others your assistant will look something over when you get back to the office, when you don’t have an assistant? Do you say “we” when you should say “I”?
Don’t make the mistake of assuming a fake front is the way to get respect and business from clients and customers. There is a growing band of people who prefer to deal with one person because they believe they’ll get a better standard of service and accountability. When someone knows the buck stops with you, it reassures them that they will be looked after.
Imagine how embarrassing it would be for someone to find out you’ve been promoting a fantasy support “team.” You could lose the trust you’ve worked so hard to build up.
3. Buy What You Sell
Self-help author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins was only 17 when he landed a job as a salesman with personal development guru Jim Rohn. There was just one snag. He had to prove his commitment to the job by buying a whole set of the company’s products, all $1,200 worth of self-help learning materials. At the time he was broke and sleeping in his car; yet he moved mountains to find a way to get the cash. After investing his own money and using the products extensively, he became the company’s best advocate for them because of his personal experience in using them.
Think about it. How can you persuade someone to spend their hard-earned money on your product or service if you’ve never done so yourself? If you genuinely believe in the products and services you sell, you will be their best advocate; and the only way to achieve that high level of belief is if you are a satisfied customer yourself.
4. Tell Your Story
If you buy what you sell, you’ll have stories at your fingertips that a salesperson memorizing spec sheets will never be able to match. There’s nothing more powerful than being able to answer a prospect’s question based on your own experience. It quickly conveys your whole-hearted belief in what you’re selling, establishes its credibility, and provides a wealth of personal advice that only a satisfied user could.
The idea of selling authentically can raise a lot of fears, particularly when you have to invest your own money. But if you work hard to develop your own authentic selling style, incorporating the four previous points, your efforts will be handsomely rewarded with increased trust, greater customer loyalty, and more sales.