Does Authenticity Really Matter?
"If I'd known you were still shopping around, I wouldn't have wasted my time."
I was silent.
Who did this guy think he was? What kind of sales pitch was THAT? And if he thinks...
The thoughts whipped across my mind hot and fast.
I'd contacted this well-known tech company to see if they could help me with my internet rankings.
"James," we'll call him, used an old-school sales tactic. Erode my confidence and then swoop in to save me from the problem he'd framed up.
"So you only spend X dollars on marketing, is that right?"
I felt defensive. Red flag.
"It appears that you haven't even implemented a keyword strategy, is that right?"
My shoulders were up around my ears. Red flag.
"You do realize you need some real technical expertise here, don't you?"
Now I was pissed.
I felt myself clench my teeth and managed to suck in a deep breath.
My mind had initiated protect-and-defend mode, and I knew I needed to end this call asap before I said something I regretted.
I forced two more deep breaths, let him finish his condescending spiel, paused for a long silence, and said I needed to think about it and speak with a few more companies.
My statement unleashed the worst in James.
When he paused his diatribe for a breath, I thanked him for his time and hung up the phone.
I sat for a minute to sort out what was so off about this call and why it made me so angry.
It's a very common sales tactic. He wasn't being evil, he was just following a script that works on a lot of people.
He was doing exactly what he'd been told to do.
It was predatory, but what bothered me most is that it was fake. He was just following a formula.
Deep down, I knew that wasn’t the real James.
I also knew there was more potential in my business than I was producing, but I needed help getting there.
I was looking for an expert who could see the buried treasure and help me unleash my potential.
After a day or two, I sent some feedback to James and his boss. To their credit, they both responded. James apologized.
His boss, who had clearly been in the business awhile and understood the long game, had authenticity down in spades.
Everything from her first email to our last call, felt like she was honestly invested in my long term success, no strings attached. And it worked: not long after, I signed up. But that first "strategy" call with James really made me think.
It's easy to fall into an old script to try and control and manipulate the situation.
But people feel it.
Being authentic isn't just a fluffy idea that produces happiness and joy and sparkles out of your butt.
It has a tangible, monetary return on investment. It helps you get hired, promoted, and it affects your bottom line.
It inspired me to comb back through all my work to clean up what isn't consistent with the real, caring attention I always intend. Because if I notice it in James, I bet I'm doing it, too.
What about you? Where do you need to be more authentic? More yourself?
Updated April 19, 2023