The notion that you should “fake it ‘til you make it” will damage your credibility with buyers.
Buyers know when you’re faking it, and they don’t give you bonus points for trying. Instead, because there is already a trust gap between sellers and buyers, they shut down if they sense you are inauthentic, uninformed, or poorly prepared.
You won’t fool them by faking it. Nor will you feel good about the work that you are doing. The worst stereotypes about sellers come from this notion that we should fake it ‘til we make it, and it’s time to put a stop to that ineffective practice.
Although some sellers try to “fake it ‘til they make it” in all parts of the sales cycle, I’ve recently been observing this in two distinct areas – cold calling and pitching.
Here are three ways sellers derail their own prospecting efforts by attempting to fake their way into a meeting:
- They grasp at straws to find even the slightest hint of a connection, often using a tool like LinkedIn to latch onto something – anything – that provides common ground. True story: one seller recently opened a phone call with me by saying “You’re on the radio, right? Well, I’ve listened to radio programs before. So I thought we ought to talk about the office automation tool that is rated #1 by…”
- They claim they’ve been referred by someone. Name dropping is only useful when there is an actual referral involved. It’s also a risky business. One seller recently name dropped about a business owner’s former partner, only to get an earful about the ugly lawsuit about the dissolution of the partnership.
- They pretend they returning a phone call or following up when, in fact, this is the very first contact made. I had a chance to toy with a seller who tried this last month, putting him on the spot to tell me who he spoke to here, when and about what. His hemming and hawing was a credibility-killer.
The “fake it ‘til you make it” strategy also fails when it comes to providing value. Many sellers offer a pretense of value rather than providing actual value that is meaningful to the buyer. Here are some signs that you might inadvertently be doing this:
- The value proposition you use is generic, and you use it over and over again.
- You refer to “value” because you think it’s a buzzword that will help you make the sale. Your intent is all about making the sale, and it is not about finding, creating or delivering value to your prospect.
- You are confusing price with value. You discount prices and call that value.
- You don’t know much about the people you’re calling on, their needs or their current priorities. You may even think that taking time to learn about individuals will be a nuisance for you.
- You rely on your products and your company to provide value and added value. You leave it up to marketing to build value into your sales pitch.
If you fake it ‘til you make it, you’re not going to make it.
Instead, work to be authentic. Start by developing a mindset that is founded in an intent to truly create value for each and every individual buyer. Doing this will make more difference in your selling effectiveness then any artificial or trumped up approach you can take. Don’t be lazy, don’t fake it, and don’t ignore the impact of being a seller who truly focuses on the customer.
When you bring value, you will make sales. But you can never do that until you stop faking it.