GUEST: Larry Levine, Co-Founder of The Social Sales Academy
Authenticity is one of the biggest challenges for salespeople in a profession that’s so laden with rejection that many fear it. Yet, authenticity is what separates the sales reps from the sales professionals and it’s what buyers want.
We sat down with Larry Levine, co-founder of The Social Sales Academy and host of the Selling from the Heart podcast to talk about how authenticity plays a role in sales.
"Why did you choose a career in sales?"
It's a simple question that Larry likes to ask – but it tends to catch people off guard. Many sales reps have trouble answering, because they don't know themselves well enough. “Sales reps are struggling with how to brand themselves,” Larry said. “Because we have such a black eye out in the marketplace.”
“Salespeople need to take it upon themselves to grow themselves and not wait for anybody else," Larry said. “If you can’t (build relationships), don’t be a salesperson."
Sales Reps Vs. Sales Professionals
Larry says that one of the reasons for the unfavorable public opinion on sales is that not enough salespeople are running themselves like a business. "Technically, a salesperson is running their own business,” Larry said.
This is what ultimately separates the sales reps from the sales professionals. A sales professional is going to take their position more seriously and run it like they would their own business. They’re the ones that are going to learn something new every day – they’re going to pay for their learning and not wait around.
How to Become More Authentic
It may sound a bit touchy-feely to talk about looking inside yourself, but sales is all about building relationships. But Larry says that in order to build relationships and change the way people think, you need to understand who you are and what goods you bring to the table. “Most people don’t understand the value they bring to the marketplace because they haven’t spent the time investing in themselves and haven’t been coached on it," Larry said. “People can really smell commission breath a mile away.”
A lot of sales reps are taught manipulative sales tricks – strategies to sell as fast as possible. This line of thinking is all about them and not the buyer. “How do you bring the human approach back to sales and make it about them?" Larry asks.
It starts by leading with the heart, not with the wallet, Larry says. At the simplest form, sales is about helping somebody solve a problem and your job is tying it to your solutions or service that can help solve it. “Everybody has the capability of finding their authentic self," Larry said. "It requires a little self-discipline.”
In every episode of the B2B Revenue Executive Experience, we try to pull one nugget of wisdom from our guests that they would impart on a sales professional. Here’s this one:
“People must be more proactive with their careers, they must be proactive with learning and they have to take it upon themselves that if you want to break the mold and the stereotype it starts with you first. Not your manager not your owner, not your centers of influence, not your spouse. You gotta look yourself in the mirror and say, “Am I being true to myself?”
This post is based on a podcast interview with Larry Levine, co-founder of The Social Sales Academy. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the B2B Revenue Executive Experience.
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.