19 Jan Be authentic, be an authority
The Sales Confidence Skills Series is a range of articles based on insights from the 2nd Sales Confidence live event we staged in November 2017. 150 SaaS enthusiasts gathered to hear 4 of the most relevant sales leaders in London tell us their secrets. However, even if you couldn’t make it, we want to share the inspiration and education with you.
Our 3rd speaker was Tom Castley. Tom is Regional VP for Account Management EMEA at Apptio, currently major disruptors in the enterprise software market. He’s also led sales at Xactly Corp and Oracle. Tom has never been shy about expressing his opinions of what works and doesn’t work in business. That’s why we love hearing him speak at our events. Tom’s title was ‘7 things I’ve learned in sales.’ Our first article based on Tom’s talk, covered why startup salespeople are different.
Tip #6 from Tom was ‘Be authentic.’ Here’s what he had to say.
‘Be truly authentic. If you’re in the education kind of sales space, if you can’t be a keynote speaker as a sales rep, you don’t know enough about your industry, your subject, your customers, your products, your solutions and the value you provide. Unless you’re at that level, you can’t sit with the CEO and talk about business. You have to be peer level with them.’
While it’s pretty clear what Tom meant with this tip, it certainly needs emphasising and a little addition too.
Many salespeople claim to know their product inside-out, and that’s great. Let’s face it, not knowing an answer about what you’re selling is rarely a good look. However, great salespeople take their knowledge to the next level. Sure, they know everything there is to know about their product, but they also know everything about their competitors’ products too. They know their marketplace, and its place within their industry.
They also know their customers’ businesses inside out. They know the challenges they face, and what they’re looking for in order to solve them. They know exactly how they create value.
I believe, however, that if you are going to sit down with a CEO, or keynote at an industry event, you need more than knowledge to get you there. There’s more to authenticity than knowledge.
CEOs and industry audiences are human beings, but they have a lower threshold than most when it comes to mediocrity.
To be truly authentic, you need confidence in your knowledge. You need to be clear and unambiguous. You need to be great at building rapport. You need to be persuasive. You need to be helpful.
Of course, this confidence will come from experience, but it also has to come from within you. You need to have a genuine interest in your product, your industry, your customer and solving their problems. You must have a genuine belief that your product is the answer. It has to be about more than your bonus.
On top of that, it has to all come naturally. Your knowledge and your confidence cannot look forced. CEOs can spot a phoney from 10 miles away.
You don’t have to be unflappable, or a robot, but you should always come across like you were born to do it.
Again, this comes from having a genuine interest. Talking about your product isn’t a job to you, it’s something you feel privileged to do. If you have to try, you’re in the wrong job.
90% of this authenticity can come with practice, but that last 10% can’t be taught, it can only come from you. You have to want to win, to be the best. You want to be asked to present to the CEO. You can’t wait to be asked to speak at the next industry event. If you won’t do that, someone else will.
Over to you now. What do you think makes an authentic salesperson? How do you maximise your sales confidence? Leave us a comment to let us know.