The Line Between Being “Salesy” and Being Real

For some business owners, the art of selling is exactly that: pure and authentic art.

It comes natural to them and they do it without effort – much like Jimmy Page (lead guitarist for Led Zepplin) deciding on whim to play a spellbinding guitar solo.

For some, it’s a forced effort that comes across as robotic or canned. You know it. Prospects know it.

The line between being “salesy” and authentic is much easier to spot from the prospect’s side of the desk.

If you are paranoid of coming across as “salesy,” I have a little secret that everybody knows but you: They know you are selling to them. In fact, they expect it.

Remember that and you’re already on your way to ditch anything that resembles “salesy.” Being authentic though, that’s another challenge.

Being authentic isn’t just being yourself. It also means being honest, being dependable, and being realistic.

But all that has to come from within.

So the following are tips that will help you discover your inner authenticity.

Tip No. 1: Stop being so damn nice all the damn time.

By now, you know I’m not a cynic or a grump. I pride myself on thinking positively and encourage readers to do the same.

But come on, it’s not humanly possible to be overly nice to everybody all of the time. I’ll take it a step further and say that people who are always super nice and happy can sometimes trigger a couple negative reactions in others.

First, it can come across as salesy. People may think it’s a projection that is forced, and therefore fake. And people don’t want to be lied to.

Second, overly nice people seem disconnected with the average person. You want to relate to people, understand their problems and help them find a solution for them.

If a prospect is speaking from the heart about their financial dreams, put your ear-to-ear smile away and get serious because this is a really big deal to the prospect.

People wanted to be treated with courtesy and respect. Smiling in the face of their problems – even if your intentions are good – can come across as ignorant and cocky.

Tip No. 2. Ask powerful questions.

This may not seem like a tip to sound authentic, but hear me out on this one.

Asking good questions is an absolutely critical element of your sales presentation. It engages their brain and keeps a person attentive.

Why is this important? Several reasons.

First, it keeps you from talking during the entirety of a meeting, especially earlier on. This is about a prospects needs, not your sales pitch.

Second, it puts in their heads that they are setting the terms for this meeting… that they are in control… and that their concerns are different than other prospects and clients.

Third, it raises the stakes of their decision. By that, I mean that it shows them that this is more important of a conversation than they expected to have. But at the same time, they are putting their guard down and trusting you because you took the time to drill down to the most important issues.

The more thought-provoking your questions, the more your prospective buyer will respect you. The higher that respect level is, the more likely they will be truthful with you and give you insight into key factors that determine the sale.

Tip No. 3. Authentic People Have a Reputation of Being Honest and Realistic

Sure, somebody can sell products by spewing complete fabrications. They may have convinced one person to buy, but the story ends with a client’s trust betrayed.

When a client’s trust is betrayed, word gets around. You won’t even have the reputation as “salesy.” Instead, it’ll be much worse.

Stay grounded when getting into the meat of your sales pitch. Be upfront about what they can expect from you and your products – the goods and the bads.

Most importantly, follow through on what you say you when deliver.

Tip No. 4. Don’t tell anybody what they want. Ever.

Two of the biggest mistakes you can make are assuming you know what a prospect wants and then telling him that they want it.

Thing is, you could be right every time with every prospect. But that doesn’t matter.

Even if your hunches are right, the customer has to be the one that says what they need. Otherwise, you can come across as a know-at-all who is “dealing” to just another prospect.

By letting their concerns drive the meeting, the prospect cannot walk out thinking you failed to address their needs.

People will recognize that you listened to what they want and took that into consideration when asking for the sale.

Tip No. 5. Think of yourself as a businessperson, not a salesperson.

As I said earlier, prospects and clients already know your job is to sell. They expect it from you to some degree, and that’s fine. No sense trying to change that.

What’s important is that you carry yourself as a professional and consider yourself one.

Professionalism is admirable, and it draws people in.

People buy from people they like. So it benefits you to ditch the sleaze and present yourself as someone that people what to do business with.

Be valuable.

John McCarthy 
Managing Editor,

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Brian J. Kay, Executive Director, Leads4Insurance
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