The Boston Chapter of the Sales Enablement Society met in December of 2021 to discuss the topic of selling with authenticity. This buzz worth phrase often leaves people confused, and we intended to pull back the marketing spin and dig into what people mean by authentic selling.
A book that inspired us after participants suggested this topic was “Unleashed” by Francis Frei; we encourage you to read it if you have a chance.
In this article, we will share bits of our meeting and key takeaways with you.
Let’s begin at the beginning.
Selling with authenticity is a win-win approach to sales where there is transparency in the goals of both parties, customers, and sellers, allowing both sides to achieve positive outcomes.
There are various vital elements, including Consistently delivering value in each interaction; listening to your prospect to understand; confidence in your voice and posture, empathy for your customer, a desire to achieve win-win outcomes.
What does authenticity feel like?
Simon Sinek will sometimes ask this question about a theoretical couple — where did she know she loved him?
As Simon walks through the story, he asks questions about what moment caused the love to occur. Was it on the 4th date, when they first kissed, and so forth? His story ultimately leads to the following: love emerges from a consistent series of loving, caring, empathetic moments — it does not occur as the result of one action.
Selling with authenticity is similar by consistently demonstrating genuine interest in the other person, their needs, and outcomes.
Authentic selling is not a one-and-done activity; it is the consistent delivery of compassion for others’ outcomes and transparency of your needs along your journey together.
Authentic selling begins with you
Authentic selling is more than just having an honest voice, learning how to make appropriate levels of eye contact, and related acts of body language gymnastics.
Yes, those tactics matter and can be practiced and improved.
However, authenticity starts by knowing what matters to you in life, business, and any specific deal.
One of the attendees shared a story from Louis CK, who spoke about his mentoring of young comedians. When asked how to be funny, his advice was to write jokes about, and talk about, things that the young comedians from comical; the humor had to resonate with them.
Sometimes it means taking the time to explain details better, digging in on needs, or choosing to walk away.
Another attendee shared the story of a new homeowner looking for help cutting down trees around their property. When the tree service quoted them $4000, the homeowner scoffed and decided to buy the equipment and do the work themselves.
A day later, the frustrated homeowner complained that they had not even brought down one tree, the equipment was no good, and they felt taken for a ride.
When the tree service owner fired up the chain saw, the homeowner looked puzzled — they had not known they needed to turn it on.
Authentic selling requires us to take the time to help ourselves understand the buyer’s situation. It may also mean helping them understand the solution well enough to make the right decision.
Storytelling can help your selling with authenticity skills
Customers want to know that you have helped people/businesses like them/theirs overcome similar challenges as those they are dealing with right now.
Great stories from other customers, sharing results delivered, and challenges overcome can give your prospective customers a level of comfort with you, your solutions, and your business.
Long-time sellers in a given business will often have dozens of these due to years of experience.
What do you do for new sellers and others that lack years of hands-on experience?
Collect these stories in a central location and teach these sellers these business stories. As you teach them the stories, ensure they learn to tell them fully and authentically, representing them as stories others lived through, not misrepresenting these as their own.
This article shares our conversation and is not a comprehensive guide on how to sell with authenticity. What tips or thoughts would you like to see us add around the topic of authentic selling?
Living Enablement as a practitioner and as a leader. I’ve seen the confusion and frustration that many practitioners live. From working in other areas of the business, I’ve also seen the genuine need for the capabilities that enablement provides.