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Authentic Selling : Hearing the voice of the Customer

John Nelligan


Too much, it seems, these days I hear talk of the need for businesses to engage in ‘authentic selling’. Not that I think that authentic selling is in any way out-moded, or wrong. Far from it. It just invokes images of business or companies, more precisely badly trained or informed sales people, hanging on to antiquated sales techniques which didn’t really work last century. And certainly have little chance with the more discerning customers of today!

Of course, the smaller businesses and business owners usually don’t have a problem connecting with their customers. They know what message they are trying to sell, know what it is their loyal customers really want and have no problem engaging with them in a way that brings value, in a helpful way, to those to whom they wish to sell. They are well used to being authentic, they mostly know of no other way. They are all too familiar with and attuned to ‘Hearing the voice of the Customer’. But have probably never before thought of it in quite this way.

That is, until businesses start to grow, and with it often the problems of training and managing sales staff to be able to sell in just quite the same way that they are used to selling. For some reason it just doesn’t seem as natural. And the end results are far less affective than they would hope. Or targets require.

So what is it about ‘authenticity’ that all to often gets lost when business or companies grow? What principles would busy managers and owners be wise to pass on to their sales staff? What should they encourage in their staff, or avoid?


1. Be yourself. The biggest mistake that many inexperienced or untrained people trying to sell is not being themself. Nobody wants to deal with an actor. A sales person or team that is trying to be something that they are not. Being yourself, makes the “what you do”, “what you offer” believable. It is the only way to foster trust. Without trust, there’s no sale!

2. Don’t be afraid to show a ‘real’ interest. We all tend to ‘connect’ with those that show interest in us. It massages our ‘ego’ and makes us feel better about ourselves. Even if not business or sales related, through interests, where we live, our hobbies etc are equally important as passion for what we do! And we prefer buying, particularly emotionally associated goods or services, from people with whom we connect or that show interest. So be yourself, engage the customers. Take a genuine interest in them, they may just reciprocate interest in what your’e selling! But if not, what is there to lose by showing interest?

3. Nurture your ‘helping nature’. The final area where many business ‘miss out’ on opportunities is by not helping. For fear of giving away information or losing sales. Well firstly, this is crazy: if a customer doesn’t want to buy from you, they won’t. Although they well remember you for your help at a later date. But, by trying to find out how you can help them, you make the buying experience easier and more personal for them. Whether on-line or face-face, finding ways to help customers ‘navigate’ the jargon, understand the choices, find their way around the store, to differentiate the choices they face personally, will usually be rewarded with gratitude. And hopefully a sale!


And whether selling face-face or on-line, the principle behind achieving successful and consistent sales is no different. The concept of authentic selling is nothing more than common sense and common courtesy, and shouldn’t need teaching!

‘Authentic selling’ techniques are however something that all businesses should be reinforcing, regularly. Business Doctors has had a lot of experience helping clients to develop effective sales performance & training programs that deliver results. We know how to break this down into 3 areas based around:

  • Sales Competency appraisal systems
  • Key Account Planning & Management / Strategic Sales
  • Sales Processes, Pipelines and Templates


So if you are not doing any of these, or you want to find out more about how it might ‘look’ for your business, feel free to call or contact us for a chat, no obligations.

Get in touch here