What are you known as by others?  What do you want to be known for?

In preparing to lead a group of sales people through a day long skill practice on how to sell to business owners I formulated the following three foundational elements to selling anything to anyone.

A – Authentic

I describe this or have heard it described many different ways, but the bottom line is you’ve got to be comfortable in your own skin. I recently met a great guy named, Jason Presser, who described coaching an employee and using his line, “You do you. And, I’ll do me.” Meaning, each person has their own unique style and word choices, so don’t just try to copy exactly what I am saying. Howard Behar, the former President of Starbucks in his book, It isn’t about the Coffee, calls it “wearing one hat.”  We should be the same person when we are selling as we are when going through the rest of our day. There shouldn’t be some fake persona we put on when it is time to sell or interact with a prospect. While it is counter intuitive, I soundly believe role-playing (which is fake) is a great way to get comfortable being yourself. Practicing getting comfortable being yourself during role play, will help you be the best you when you are in front of real customers. Always be you!

K – Knowledgable

You’ve got to know your stuff. So many times I’ve heard people complain about not knowing enough about the products or services they are expected to sell. I hate to be blunt, but educating yourself is almost entirely up to you. Take the time to read your company’s product brochures, procedures, website, search the web, ask others, sign up for classes, we live in a time where information is plentiful. I learned this personally many years ago. I was complaining about not knowing my bank’s products, a co-worker asked me one simple question. “Chris, have you read our brochures and disclosures?” I am not sure why, but it hadn’t dawned on me that I didn’t need to wait for an approved class to educate myself, neither do you!

A – Assertive

The Webster’s definition of assertive is: disposed to or characterized by bold or confident statements and behavior. If you are being yourself and you know what you are talking about because you’ve gained special knowledge, why wouldn’t you speak and act in a confident manner? Being assertive doesn’t mean being a jerk or pushy; it simply means playing an active role in a conversation. Being assertive isn’t mutually exclusive from being humble. When you don’t know an answer to a question, you should confidently say, “I honestly don’t know, but I am happy to …..” You’ll never know all the answers. If you are waiting to know everything, about everything, before you engage customers then you are never going to engage anyone. Our world today moves too quickly to always know everything. What used to be true yesterday, may be untrue today, and might be different tomorrow. The one constant in life is change. So be open to change and be brave to be vulnerable when you are selling.

So there you have it, another way to think about an old acronym in a new way.

A.K.A. – Authentic, Knowledgable and Assertive.


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