The authenticity of the sale is in the salesperson.

The authenticity of the sale is in the salesperson.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at


Are you the real (sales) thing? Chances are you’re not!

The authentic salesperson.

Is that you?

You probably think you are, but you’re probably wrong. So wrong, in fact, that by the time you’re finished reading this, the pain will be so intense, that you may actually take some action to make yourself more authentic.

What is authentic? Something EVERY salesperson strives to be. The real question is: How authentic are you? How close to “10” are you on the authenticity scale in each of the following 10.5 categories?

1. Long-term relationships with customers

2. Excellent market exposure and position

3. Great reputation in your industry

4. High respect of customers, coworkers, and community

5. Friendly, likeable, and sincere in helping others

6. Reliable as a person

7. Reliable as a resource

8. Perceived as a value provider

9. Personally branded

10. Published and perceived as an authority

10.5 Able to get unsolicited referrals on a regular basis

High score is 110. How’d you do?

The more authentic you are perceived to be, the more likely the customer or the prospect or the probable purchaser, will buy from you. There’s a bonus: Your authenticity, if it’s high, will also give you a competitive advantage that may rule out price as an issue. The world’s greatest heart surgeon does not have to justify price. He’s authentic. And everyone knows it. And everyone pays his asking price.

You see, when I ask “Are you an authentic salesperson?” I’m not asking that question in terms of how you perceive yourself-that’s not what authenticity is about. Authenticity, or the authentic salesperson, is about how your customers or your marketplace or even your coworkers perceive you.

There’s an old sales adage that goes: In sales it’s not who you know, in sales it’s who knows you. Authentic salespeople are well-known. If you’re well-known among your coworkers-that doesn’t count. If you’re well-known among your customers-that almost counts. If you’re well-known among your prospective customers-that counts. If you’re well-known within your industry-that really counts.

The big question is: How do you become well-known and why should you care? Because the more well-known you become, the more authentic you become. Lucky for you there are steps you can take to become well-known-and as a result-perceived as more authentic.

NOTE WELL: Part of being authentic is about being honorable and being real. Regardless of what you do to build your reputation, if your actions are unethical, or people perceive you as being insincere, your “authenticity” will suffer. Yes, you might become well-known. But the question is, for what and as what?

The best way to test your authenticity is to go to, enter your name, and hit return. What happens? Nothing? Not much? A few things? I use Google as a measuring stick for reputation and authenticity. So do your customers. So do your prospects. So do your industry leaders. They Google you, just like you Google them. So your first job is to understand that by being Google-able, you are on the path to authenticity.

Google is an authenticity report card. What grade did you get?

Here are 7.5 actions that you can take within the next 30 days that will put you on Google and help you gain some immediate authenticity:

1. Register a Web site with your If your name ( is taken, register a Web site that includes your name, like By establishing and building your own Web site, you will immediately be listed on every search engine on the planet. Then, what you do with your Web site will begin to build your authenticity. The content posted on your Web site must be of interest and of help to your customers. It must contain ideas, tips, best practices, articles, and information that helps your customers win. Helping others leads to authenticity.

2. Write a white paper. Your ability to write about your industry, write about how your customers use your product to produce and profit, and write success stories about others-will establish you as a thinker. Writing your definitive philosophies will separate you from others. How you rise above the others is paramount to your authenticity. Writing is hard work, perhaps the hardest task for a salesperson, but in addition to contributing to your authenticity-it makes selling easier. Do your prospects want your third-rate business card and self-indulgent brochure? Or do they want the white paper you just wrote on how they can produce more and profit more? (Obviously, that’s a rhetorical question, but it can’t be that obvious because you’re not doing it.)

3. An article that your customers, prospects, or other people in your industry will read. Shorter than a white paper, an article (like this one) will focus on a single subject that may have to do with issues of service, moral, a productive idea, a strategy, a philosophy, or even a success story. It should be strategically placed in a trade journal, newsletter, local business paper, like the one you’re reading, and ALSO e-mailed to every single person on your list. If you don’t have a list, what are you thinking?

4. Your weekly communication to your entire base of contacts. Mine is an e-mail magazine called Sales Caffeine. It’s a free subscription that contains helpful sales information and ideas that others can use and profit from. It’s also viral. There’s enough good information in it to where one sales person is compelled to forward it to another salesperson. Thereby increasing and expanding my authenticity (and your authenticity should you choose to use this medium).

NOTE WELL: The single most valuable asset you will possess for the next 50 years will be your e-mail mailing list. Build it, use it to help others profit, and guard it with your life.

5. Speak at the conference. Don’t just be an attendee or an exhibitor. Speaking to your peers assures you a leadership position and an authenticity that is undeniable. Speaking means that you are an expert or an authority, that you have prepared, and that your presentation skills are competent enough to face a group of peers and win their hearts and minds.

6. Become a leader of something. By taking a leadership role in a community event, or a business group, or a committee, you are showing others a willingness to accept responsibility, and complete a task to the best of your ability. That authenticity goes a long way towards creating the next critical component; reputation.

7. Build a great reputation. If you add up all of your deeds, all of your good will, all of your word of mouth rumblings and all of your achievements, together they equal your reputation. If you complain to me that you don’t have much of a reputation it’s because you haven’t taken many actions to create one. If you complain to me that your reputation is great, but that your company’s reputation leaves something to be desired, then get out of there. Your company’s reputation and your reputation must be in total harmony, and be totally congruent, in order for you to have true authenticity.

7.5 Fake it till you make it. In order to be authentic you have to live authentic. The problem is you can’t start out authentic, you have to be a student of authenticity. You have to take daily actions that will lead you to a greater degree of authenticity. During that period of time you have to act authentic. I’m not saying be insincere, I’m saying live the part. I’m not saying be someone you’re not, I’m saying be who you want to become. You grow into authenticity by taking authentic actions, and there’s nothing wrong with the self-belief process of knowing where you’re going and living it until you get there. I could have just as easily named this point “live the part.” But I think it’s important to understand that you will start out being someone that you are not, or better said, not yet. Authenticity builds… as you build it.

Here’s a great way to build a foundation: Help others because it makes you feel good. The more help you share, the more help is returned to you. Not by the individual you helped. By everyone.

What makes you authentic? The consistent positive actions you take that build your personal brand and your reputation.

NOTE WELL: Authenticity is never a part of someone’s “system of selling” — that’s why I’m against all systems. Systems focus on the “selling” process. Mistake. Big mistake. Authentic people create buying atmospheres with all the OTHER things they do that get them to the sales meeting.

Is that you? It better be, or you will lose to someone who is.

If you’re authentic, you don’t have to say it, or prove it. It shows and it speaks for itself. The most powerful part of authenticity is that, if done properly, it’s unspoken.

PERSONAL NOTE: When I go into a sales call my authenticity is not my business card. My authenticity is my book. Autographed. Which sales educator or sales trainer do you think gets the job, the one who read the book, or the one who wrote the book?

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible, and The Little Red Book of Selling. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts internet training programs on selling and customer service at He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to

c 2004 All Rights Reserved – Don’t even think about reproducing this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer 704/333-1112