Today I want to talk about authenticity, as in personal authenticity.  I often get asked to help individuals build up their personal brands, or work with service teams on boosting the customer experience, or even working with sales teams to connect with the right prospects, etc.  99% of the time I’m asked to review what their competitors are doing and duplicate that or even worse write scripts for teams to use as templates for emails or phone conversations.

In the past, I would often oblige my clients since they were so adamant that’s what they thought they needed in order to be successful.  The result?  Failed most of the time, resulting in an unhappy client and an unhappy team here at the Red Barn. It’s also kind of a bummer for the P&L as those customers tend not to stick.

Here’s why being a copycat and using scripts aren’t a good idea – they aren’t YOU, they aren’t part of YOUR brand, and the person on the other side of the phone or email is immediately going to recognize the lack of authentic behavior and content.  Come on – haven’t you ever gotten one of those telemarketers who was reading from a script and you just hit the big red END button on your phone.  I know I have – and still do. It makes me cringe because I know the person on the other end of the phone is just trying to make a buck and they were handed that damn script.

YOUR Story.  Yep. Telling stories and being genuine is how it needs to be.  I can surely write you an amazing LinkedIn Profile, or a blog ghost written in your name, but I need to get inside your head AND you need to be completely transparent with me.  Such as “I hate dogs, I’m a cat lover”, or “You won’t ever find me camping, I’m much more a Waldorf kind of guy” or “I spend my free time painting river rocks and spreading them around town anonymously” (that’s a thing by the way – and I think it’s so cool).  Whatever makes you, YOU, needs to be reflected in your conversations, in your LinkedIn profile, and in your sales pitches.

I write a weekly Thursday email  – they are all me.  100% transparency – the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I recently wrote about my bad hair mode – I decided to not dye my hair any longer and embrace my gray/white locks.  Well, it was a tad of a transition to say the least.

Sorry for the digression.  Back to why this matters for YOU, because I’m guessing you could care less about the color of my hair!

If you are a team leader or business owner – how do you get people to answer the phones the way YOU need them to, or to cross promote a product or service the way YOU need them to without forcing a script down their throats?

It goes back to culture. THEY need to believe what YOU do.  Share with them your passion for the new service or product.  Help them BELIEVE that your customers will benefit from whatever it is you are trying to promote.  Get them in a room and practice the phone calls until everyone is comfortable and can put their personal spin on the pitch or conversation.

How about you personally – if you aren’t a wordsmith how do you write engaging emails?  How do you do your elevator pitch if you aren’t a speaker?  Be yourself. Have a conversation. Don’t overthink it too much.  Write an email like you were speaking to them.  Reread it and check for grammar and typos – but just “talk”.  As far as Elevator Pitches – I’m not a huge fan.  Just tell people what you do if they ask.  You don’t need a novel.

If you aren’t authentic and show your true colors, you won’t get what you want, and you won’t be happy.  You won’t be happy come Monday morning if you fake loving your job or are trying to fit into a culture that isn’t YOU.  You won’t be happy in a relationship if you can’t be YOU.  You surely won’t be happy with your clients if you get stressed out before every meeting or if you HAVE to put on a suit and you are more jeans and a t-shirt type of person.

In the end, change is inevitable!  Forcing yourself or someone on your team to be something they are not won’t get you where you want to go.  It’s too painful.  There is a huge difference between pushing yourself or someone else outside the proverbial comfort zone and creating Stepford Type team members – robotic like workers.

Embrace your quirkiness, and embrace the uniqueness of your team!  It’s what makes the world such an amazing place.  You don’t have to be like your competitor – why would you want to be?  You have something they do not – YOU!

About the author:

Cindy Donaldson is an operations, marketing and sales strategist, trainer and speaker with over 25 years in the industry.  Considered an innovator and thought leader on personal and company branding, Cindy’s strength is creating “buzz” for industries struggling to move the revenue needle often due to increased competition, lack of operational, marketing or sales processes, and increased threat of mergers and acquisitions.

Cindy was a top award winning salesperson for the Sir Speedy Printing franchise; beginning her career in North Carolina and then transferring to Connecticut.  She later moved on to start Brookhollow Marketing, a full-service marketing agency working with small to mid-sized companies.  In 2008, one of her clients, Founders Insurance Group, asked Cindy to become their in-house Director of Marketing & Sales.  During her tenure, she gained national recognition for Founders marketing and sales efforts specifically as it relates to the use of digital marketing and social selling.   She held that position until 2013 when she launched Red Barn Consulting.

Today, Cindy and her team at Red Barn work with a variety of industries including Insurance, Banking, Health Care, Coaching, Leadership and Training Firms.  She sits on the board of the Professional Insurance Agents of CT, is a member of the Agents Council for Technology, Past Corporate Secretary of VNA Northwest, Inc, Past Economic Development Commission (EDC)Chair for the City of Torrington CT and past member of the New Hartford CT EDC.  She and her team are also members of the CT Banking Association, NW CT Chamber of Commerce, Waterbury Chamber of Commerce, Avon Chamber of Commerce and the New Hartford Business Council.

Cindy has been published in several medical and insurance journals on the topics of digital marketing, social selling and leadership and is a frequent speaker/trainer at industry and community events.

Cindy lives in New Hartford CT with her partner David Coons. She enjoys traveling both abroad and in their RV, running, hiking, gardening and her latest artistic endeavor – painting.