It isn't a skill that I have a high proficiency in, but I find that…
Think back to the last time you made a big purchase…. you likely did not go into the transaction lightly. You put in the research, maybe talked to others about their experiences, and inevitably trusted that the purchasing decision you were making was the right one.
That same trust can be earned and established as you create your personal brand. Trust in you, and your product/service, is best done when being honest and transparent in your communications. This authenticity is what your clients and prospects will value in your business dealings, and the decision to do business with you will be easier if you are authentic.
Now more than ever, consumers are looking for authenticity, and they are looking for their sales professional to be genuine, vulnerable, trustworthy, transparent, real and to sell with integrity in their dealings with their customers.
Authenticity is defined by Merriam-Webster as “worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact”, “not false or imitation”, “true to one’s own personality, spirit or character.”
For me, this was never more true than when I finally embraced my introverted nature, in an industry where extroversion is valued. As hospitality professionals, we work to bring people together. Networking, large parties, music and dancing – it’s what we facilitate for others and what we do ourselves when we celebrate as an industry.
I worked hard to facilitate partying for others, but found parties for me to be overwhelming and awkward and for years I denied my introverted nature.
“I’m an omnivert” I would tell people, like I was some kind of lizard that changed my colour depending on the size of the crowd. But it was never the truth.
So after years of denial and fighting a system and an industry that didn’t resonate with how I like to deepen relationships, I finally, finally embraced my introversion. And I’m not the only one. There are many of us. Many, like me, feel like a “fish out of water” at the big industry parties, but more comfortable connecting with clients and friends in the smaller settings.
Now, not only do I embrace my introversion as one of the defining qualities of my personal brand, but I work hard to create space for other introverted industry professionals. Instead of blindly attending reception after reception, I challenge my industry to find ways to make things more inclusive for my introverted colleagues and friends. I seek out venues that provide for smaller, more intimate conversations and sharing, and I invite introverts to join me.
I encourage my fellow introverted colleagues to share their stories, questions, successes and challenges, and I accept opportunities to speak on this topic (you can check out a podcast I did last year here). I’m proud to be an advocate for those that see sales differently, see networking and building relationships differently.
Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, it makes no difference and there’s no judgement. Where happiness lies is not in one or the other, but rather it lies in your authenticity. What version of you would YOU rather be?
Here are 7 ways that you can create authentic personal branding in sales:
- Believe that you have a brand – before you can communicate your brand and that of your product or service, you need to believe that there is space for you and your brand in the marketplace. No other person can communicate and sell in quite the way you do, and you have a message to share. Believing this, first and foremost, is critical for your authenticity to show through as you grow your brand.
- Amplify true characteristics – when looking at all the various traits and characteristics to potentially amplify through your brand, its imperative to amplify only those that are truly YOU. There may be characteristics that you wish you could be but being authentic would be to look at your own characteristics as strengths and chose to amplify those that ring true for you now.
- Example – I wish I was more extroverted, however I’ve chosen to amplify my introversion as a way to connect with sales professionals who also identify as introverts.
- Showcase your product’s differentiators – In a sea of “sameness”, it’s easy to talk about the qualities of your product that exist in every product in your category. What is more challenging, but more fruitful, would be to harness the differentiators and showcase those to your customers.
- Storytelling – One way of being authentic and genuine in your communications is to tell a story. A great question to answer through storytelling is to tell the story of how you came to fall in love with your product or service. If you’re not in love with your product, find stories of other client’s who have fallen in love with your product, instead of trying to fake enthusiasm for something you don’t 100% believe in.
- Question – if you are not in love with your product, is there opportunity to sell something you do love?
- Question – storytelling need not only be about your product or service, but it should create a common connection and trust. Is there another story you can tell to create a connection with your client or prospect?
- Sell with integrity – Integrity (the adherence to a code of moral values) can show up in a few different ways in sales:
- Sell your product or service based on its factual and true attributes – refrain from making false claims about your product or overestimating results when your product is used
- Speak kindly of your competition – the old adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say (about your competition), don’t say anything at all”, plays well here
- Speak kindly of your leadership and colleagues – keep the dirty laundry at home and create a welcoming environment for your client to enter into
- Be of service, not of sales – In an effort to capture integrity, transparency and trustworthiness in your sales’ interactions, connect with your prospects from a place of service versus a place of sales. There is great power and currency in giving first, and expecting nothing in return.
- Allow your personal and professional brands to collide – Your personal interests and traits will help customers connect better with you, and create a place of trust faster with you. Allow elements of your personal life shine through your professional presence.
- Personal life elements that are great to share – family moments, pet moments, hobbies and activities, industry-related moments (ie. do you work in travel? share your own travel adventures with your clients!)
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