Do you put on your “marketing face” or switch to your “selling voice” when you make a sales call or arrive at a networking function? Where does that behavior come from? Who teaches it? Do we learn it along the way, starting in grade school?

Maybe we don such masks because we are uncomfortable with selling ourselves. Maybe it comes from time spent observing slick salespeople, product pitchmen on TV or even hucksters at the State Fair.

Whatever the reason, it could be working against you. What the buyer sees and hears is manufactured enthusiasm, language used to manipulate, artificial interest and sometimes even deception.

It’s unlikely that a sales professional will consciously set out to deceive prospects or customers. But what many do unconsciously is behave inauthentically when around buyers.

1. The real you, for a change
Try this at the next networking event you attend. Lose the facade; just be real. If another guest asks why you came, tell the truth: “I hope to make a few contacts that lead to new business.”

There’s no need to come up with strategies that open a conversation. Just approach someone promising and say, “Hi, we haven’t met yet. I’m Jerry Smith.”

Or if you’re uncomfortable among strangers, approach someone and say, “I’m new here. Would you be willing to introduce me to some folks you know?”

2. Honesty with prospects
Think about placing a completely honest prospect follow-up call. Just say, “I have time available on my calendar and I was thinking this might be the right time to talk about that project we’ve discussed.”

Too many sales professionals hem and haw until they come up with a believable reason to contact a prospect. There’s no need. You know the real reason you are calling – and so do your prospects. Why not just come out with it?

Example: “We haven’t talked in some time and I’d like to see if you’re still planning to upgrade your accounting software this year.”

3. Open and direct cold calls
You can apply the same principles when making cold calls. Rather than launch into a polished – but unnatural – opening gambit, think about saying, “I’m looking for new customers. Can we chat for a minute to see if we might be able to help you?”

The acid test: Do you feel a tightness in your throat or get flushed in the face when you are using the cold-calling script you’ve been given? Does it feel like slick marketing hype?

Why not take the key points and put them in your own words? Do it in a way that feels honest, comes from the heart and gets directly into how you can help.

Then list out the most common questions prospects ask, and figure out how you will answer them – in an authentic and honest way. It’s a safe bet that your calls will get easier and you’ll feel better about them.

The more genuine you are, the more engaging you will be. The best sales come from building solid relationships, and solid relationships hinge on revealing who you really are.

Source: From a posting by C.J. Hayden. To learn more, visit

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