Everyone seeks to be and be known as authentic. Very few are.
If I ask you how authentic you are, your answer would be “10!” on the one to 10 scale. If I asked you how authentic your customers perceive you to be, would the answer be the same? Maybe a little lower? A lot lower?
Last week (yes, this is part two), I emphasized the brand and reputation that goes with you — even precedes you into the sales meeting. Maybe even gets you there.
Here are the rest of the actions that you can take to ensure that your customers and prospects perceive you as authentic.
3. An article that your customers, prospects, or other people in your industry will read. Shorter than a white paper, an article (like this one) will focus on a single subject that may have to do with issues of service, moral, a productive idea, a strategy, a philosophy or even a success story. It should be strategically placed in a trade journal, newsletter, local business paper, like the one you’re reading, and ALSO e-mailed to every single person on your list. If you don’t have a list, what are you thinking?
4. Your weekly communication to your entire base of contacts. Mine is an e-mail magazine called Sales Caffeine. It’s a free subscription that contains helpful sales information and ideas that others can use and profit from. It’s also viral. There’s enough good information in it to where one sales person is compelled to forward it to another salesperson; thereby increasing and expanding my authenticity (and your authenticity should you choose to use this medium).
NOTE WELL: The single most valuable asset you will possess for the next 50 years will be your e-mail mailing list. Build it, use it to help others profit, and guard it with your life.
5. Speak at the conference. Don’t just be an attendee or an exhibitor. Speaking to your peers assures you a leadership position and an authenticity that is undeniable. Speaking means that you are an expert or an authority, that you have prepared, and that your presentation skills are competent enough to face a group of peers and win their hearts and minds.
6. Become a leader of something. By taking a leadership role in a community event, or a business group, or a committee, you are showing others a willingness to accept responsibility, and complete a task to the best of your ability. That authenticity goes a long way towards creating the next critical component; reputation.
7. Build a great reputation. If you add up all of your deeds, all of your good will, all of your word of mouth rumblings and all of your achievements, together they equal your reputation. If you complain to me that you don’t have much of a reputation it’s because you haven’t taken many actions to create one. If you complain to me that your reputation is great, but that your company’s reputation leaves something to be desired, then get out of there. Your company’s reputation and your reputation must be in total harmony, and be totally congruent, in order for you to have true authenticity.
7.5. Fake it ‘til you make it. In order to be authentic you have to live authentic. The problem is you can’t start out authentic; you have to be a student of authenticity. You have to take daily actions that will lead you to a greater degree of authenticity. During that period of time, you have to act authentic. I’m not saying be insincere, I’m saying live the part. I’m not saying to be someone you’re not, I’m saying be who you want to become. You grow into authenticity by taking authentic actions, and there’s nothing wrong with the self-belief process of knowing where you’re going and living it until you get there. I could have just as easily named this point “live the part.” But I think it’s important to understand that you will start out being someone that you are not, or better said, not yet. Authenticity builds… as you build it.
Here’s a great way to build a foundation: Help others because it makes you feel good. The more help you share, the more help is returned to you. Not by the individual you helped. By everyone.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail