Are you the real (sales) thing? Chances are you’re not!

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Published: December 13,2004

The authentic salesperson.
Is that you?

You probably think you are, but you’re probably wrong. So wrong, in fact, that by the time you’re finished reading this, the pain will be so intense that you may actually take some action to make yourself more authentic.

What is authentic? Something EVERY salesperson strives to be. The real question is: How authentic are you? How close to “10” are you on the authenticity scale in each of the following 10.5 categories?

1. Long-term relationships with your customers.

2. Excellent market exposure and position.

3. Great reputation in your industry.

4. High respect of customers, coworkers and community.

5. Friendly, likeable and sincere in helping others.

6. Reliable as a person.

7. Reliable as a resource.

8. Perceived as a value provider.

9. Personally branded.

10. Published and perceived as an authority.

10.5 Able to get unsolicited referrals on a regular basis.
High score is 110. How’d you do?

The more authentic you are perceived to be, the more likely the customer or the prospect or the probable purchaser will buy from you. There’s a bonus: Your authenticity, if it’s high, will also give you a competitive advantage that may preclude price as an issue. The world’s greatest heart surgeon does not have to justify price. He’s authentic. And everyone knows it. And everyone pays his asking price.

You see, when I ask “Are you an authentic salesperson?” I’m not asking that question in terms of how you perceive yourself — that’s not what authenticity is about. Authenticity, or the authentic salesperson, is about how your customers or your marketplace or even your coworkers perceive you.

There’s an old sales adage that goes: In sales it’s not who you know, in sales it’s who knows you. Authentic salespeople are well-known. If you’re well-known among your coworkers — that doesn’t count. If you’re well-known among your customers that almost counts. If you’re well-known among your prospective customers — that counts. If you’re well-known within your industry — that really counts.

The big question is: How do you become well-known and why should you care? Because the more well-known you become, the more authentic you are perceived to be. Lucky for you there are steps you can take to become well-known-and as a result-perceived as more authentic.

NOTE WELL: Part of being authentic is about being honorable and being real. Regardless of what you do to build your reputation, if your actions are unethical, or people perceive you as being insincere, your “authenticity” will suffer. Yes, you might become well-known, but the question is: For what and as what?

The best way to test your authenticity is to go to Google.com, enter your name, and hit return. What happens? Nothing? Not much? A few things? I use Google as a measuring stick for reputation and authenticity. So do your customers. So do your prospects. So do your industry leaders. They Google you, just like you Google them. So your first job is to understand that by being Google-able, you are on the path to authenticity. Google is an authenticity report card. What grade did you get?

There are 7.5 actions that you can take within the next 30 days that will put you on Google and help you gain some immediate authenticity:

1. Register a Web site with your name.com. If your name (johnsmith.com) is taken, register a Web site that includes your name, like thegreatjohnsmith.com. By establishing and building your own Web site, you will immediately be listed on every search engine on the planet. Then, what you do with your Web site will begin to build your authenticity. The content posted on your Web site must be of interest and of help to your customers. It must contain ideas, tips, best practices, articles and information that helps your customers win. Helping others leads to authenticity.

2. Write a white paper. Your ability to write about your industry, write about how your customers use your product to produce and profit, and write success stories about others will establish you as a thinker. Writing your definitive philosophies will separate you from others. How you rise above the others is paramount to your authenticity. Writing is hard, perhaps the hardest task for a salesperson, but in addition to contributing to your authenticity — it makes selling easier. Does your prospect want your third-rate business card and self-indulgent brochure? Or do they want the white paper you just wrote on how they can produce more and profit more? (Obviously, that’s a rhetorical question, but it can’t be that obvious because you’re not doing it.)
YIKES! Only two of the 7.5 actions and I’m out of space for this week. Think I’ll be authentic enough to return next week? Count on it.

If you want elaboration on the 10.5 authenticity self-test items listed at the beginning of this article, go to www.gitomer.com — register if you’re a first time visitor — and enter the word AUTHENTIC in the GitBit box.

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
salesman@gitomer.com.

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