I am constantly amazed at the transparency that now exists in our world. The likes of  LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. allow us to find out nearly anything we want about others.  That is why when people act without integrity, their surprise at people’s reaction to their action is always interesting.

Last fall I had a plagiarizer take my Do Your Sales Meetings Stick article published on Salespodia and use it as her  own. My reactions included:

  • How dare she?!
  • Really, didn’t she think I would ever find out?
  • Who does this in today’s world?
  • Wow, I must write good articles if someone is willing to claim them as their own 🙂

And then I thought, how easy is it to ‘steal’ from others without really knowing it?

In the late 1990s, early in my consulting career, I emulated a successful consultant – the way he talked, his approach to all things sales, etc. His style was not quite like mine – but I thought that was how I needed to act. In essence I was stealing his style.  And I did earn business with HUGE companies.  But months into most engagements, I would hear a comment like “I never realized you were so funny!” or “Your expertise or advice is so much more than we expected.” Not bad comments, but it seemed there was more to the words.

I finally asked a trusted client what she meant.  Her response – even 10 years later – is still embarrassing.  She told me that during the sales process, they loved what I was offering, the results that had been achieved, etc. but that I was seen as a “Vanna White’ without much additional value. And that the product/service was what they bought, not me.

Huh? They saw me as a TV game show side-kick? Wow!  Then she went on to say that I need to be myself because my expertise and personality were truly valuable and she is sad that she almost missed out on it.  I thanked her for that information and took time to reflect on it.  I was putting all my efforts into showcasing WHAT I offered in a manner that was not genuine to me.  Though I was winning sales, what was I losing that I didn’t know?

individualIn addition to losing my ‘self” I was probably losing sales as well.

And that is when my resolve to help sales professionals stop FAKING it and be themselves was solidified.  That in this transparent world, the more you are yourself, the more successful you will be.  Acting like someone else or taking the words of someone else will STOP you at some point. It might not be as swift and public as Michael J. Roman – but it will happen.

Now, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn from others and ethically borrow best practices. What it means is that we need to give credit where it is due and then use the ideas and actions in a manner consistent with who we are.

Being yourself – even if that means showing some of your quirkiness –  will win you more friends, loyal customers…and success in the long run.  And these are biggest WINs of all.