Marketing The Real You

I often wonder how the practice began of pretending to be someone
else in order to market your business. You know what I’m talking
about — it’s the marketing face, the selling voice, that you often
put on in order to attend a networking event or make a sales call.
Who taught you to do that?

I have a suspicion where we learn this behavior. Most of us spend a
lifetime observing showroom salespeople, product spokespersons in the
media, and hucksters on street corners. What we see demonstrated
there is artificial enthusiasm, manipulative use of language, feigned
interest, and in some cases outright deception.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it? So why copy any part of this distasteful
way of selling?

Psychologist Abraham Maslow said, “If all you have is a hammer,
everything looks like a nail.” Perhaps we believe this is the only
way we can sell because it’s the only way we know. I’m not accusing
anyone of consciously deceiving prospective clients. What I’m
suggesting is that what we do unconsciously and automatically is to
behave inauthentically around them.

Intuitively, many of us feel as if something is wrong with this way
of operating. When we have to sell ourselves, we find it unpleasant,
disagreeable, even repulsive. But what if all those negative feelings
were simply because we hate the artificiality and manipulation we
think must be a part of selling?

Imagine what it would be like to go to a business networking event as
yourself. No facade, no pretension, just plain you. When someone asks
your reason for coming, you tell them the truth. You don’t have to
claim you wanted to hear the speaker (if you didn’t). You can come
right out and say, “I’m hoping to make some contacts that will lead
to business for me.”

You wouldn’t have to invent reasons to start a conversation. You can
walk up to someone who looks interesting and say, “Hi, I haven’t met
you yet.” If you’re shy around strangers, you can tell the first
person you meet, “I’m sort of a wallflower and feel awkward at events
like this. Could you introduce me to some folks?”

Now imagine placing a follow-up call to a prospect where you are
completely honest. You could say, “I have some days open on my
calendar soon and I’m wondering if this would be a good time for that
project we’ve been discussing.” Or, “We haven’t talked in a while and
I’d like to find out if you’re still planning to start the new
training program this year.”

I see so many professionals and consultants struggle with trying to
find an “excuse” to call a prospect. You don’t need some manufactured
excuse. You know the reason you’re calling. Most of the time THEY
know the reason you’re calling. Just say what it is.

Let’s extend this same principle to making a cold call. Instead of
stumbling around awkwardly trying to make a polished — but unnatural
— sales approach, imagine yourself saying, “I’m not much of a
salesperson, but I’m really good at what I do. Can we have a
conversation about what you need and see if I’m the right person for
the job?”

If you’ve been working from a cold-calling script that makes you
flush and get a tight throat every time you read it, throw it out.
Come up with one really good opening line that feels authentic and
gets directly to the point. Then decide how you will answer —
honestly — some of the typical questions prospects ask you. My bet
is that your calls will immediately get easier.

In fact, the more you become honest, direct, and authentic in all of
your marketing, the more appealing selling will be to you, the more
effortless it will become, and the more success you will ultimately
achieve. Because most business results from building relationships,
and how can you develop a relationship with someone when you never
reveal who you really are?

C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients NOW! Since 1992, C.J. has
been teaching business owners and salespeople to make more money with
less effort. She is a Master Certified Coach and leads workshops
internationally. Read more of her articles at