It is amazing when I think about how many times I’ve changed my approach or strategy over the years, always trying to be authentic and relevant no matter the situation. It got me thinking about how sales people must feel when they’re faced with a new sales process, new sales training, new approaches to coaching or new management, and how they must struggle to remain authentic and relevant throughout it all.
This really hit home when I had a conversation recently with my daughter about how to best handle a certain challenge. When I realized that she kept going about it the same way, I suggested that she consider changing her strategy. In response, she asked, “But how can I be authentic and relevant in that situation? This is who I am.” Wow. This, from a 15-year-old.
Don’t we ALL want to be authentic and relevant?
Change is hard for many people. We get used to doing things a certain way and then change comes along, which usually throws us off a bit. A good sales coach, like a business therapist, should be able to help but we do not all have this luxury.
When change is being asked of you, think of it not as a wholesale change, but rather, change in a series of increments. This makes it much easier to modify how we do things and improve on the best practices that have worked for us in the past. However, you cannot change who you are. Otherwise, you’ll be stiff, uncomfortable and definitely not authentic.
Take in all the new information, prioritize the changes needed based on your assessment (or a third party’s assessment), discuss them with your manager to gain agreement, and work on making bite-size changes. When each change becomes more part of your sales DNA, try the next one, then the one after that, and so on. Be authentic and know change is good if it improves outcomes.
Being authentic is important since we must always be ourselves. People will notice if we are too measured, rigid or awkward. But you also need to be relevant in sales.
Boy, do I and other Baby Boomer sales professionals know all about being relevant. Over the decades, many things in sales have stayed the same while others have changed dramatically. For example, technology and the internet have totally changed how people buy since information is so readily available.
The days of sales reps educating the buyer are way past us now. Buyers are educating themselves well before speaking with to a sales rep. Therefore, we all have to stay relevant. We have to know our customers better than they know themselves. We cannot ask the old, tired questions like “What keeps you up at night?” We have to know this information in advance. And, if a buyer is more of a laggard than an innovator, then we need to become a knowledgeable advisor who shares valuable insights and trends to help them reach their priority business outcomes.
Don’t get me wrong – I happen to love change. It challenges me to be better at my craft and as a person. I have changed time and time again. Don’t be afraid to learn from your mistakes, acquire new knowledge, and always trying to be the best you can be in both your sales career and your personal life. I personally could never have achieved success if I never learned the importance of being authentic and relevant. Are you?