It may seem like talking about authenticity is all the rage in the B2B sphere lately, but this concept has been around practically forever. Throughout history, authenticity has been a theme continually highlighted by philosophers, authors, playwrights, designers, businesspeople and more. As one example, Ancient Greek author Homer wrote, “Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.” Translation? For millennia, people have been balking at those who act or come across as inauthentic.
After all these years and all the works and discussions that emphasize the importance of being genuine, why is authenticity still such an important concept to discuss? It may come from the sense that, in many ways, we’re conditioned to “fit in” and “go with the crowd” while we grow up and as we build our careers. For some in sales and marketing, it may feel like a professional tug-of-war between “be authentically yourself” and “follow everyone else’s example.”
What does authenticity look like in B2B sales and marketing?
I’ll tell you what authenticity does not look like in B2B sales and marketing: thinly veiled pitches, formulaic email blasts, and uncomfortably salesy outreach. If Homer were here today, maybe he’d write, “Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is the auto-generated email from a salesperson who I thought genuinely cared about me and my needs.”
In B2B selling, being authentic means that the interactions you have with your prospects and customers are genuine, thoughtful and founded in a place of caring. In the same way that we shouldn’t think about buyers as numbers or generalized personas, B2B sales professionals and marketers shouldn’t conceal or diminish their personhood, either. This means allowing your authentic self to shine through while you’re being relatable with your prospects and customers. After all, true relationships are a two-way street.
Authenticity can manifest in many different ways.
One way that my colleagues and I agree is a prime way to be authentic is to embrace the power of the handwritten note. The recipient can literally see the manifestation of you putting time and thought into something tangible that’s specifically for them. Alyce’s own head of revenue, Daniel Rodriguez, has a great story of how he received a handwritten note from a classmate when he graduated from college, where she wished him success and hoped they could stay in touch. He talked about this on a recent episode of the MarTech Podcast, saying, “I think the authenticity of handwriting itself and just the way that you can use your own language to show up in a physical note can be really powerful.”
At the same time, authenticity can come through when you are unabashedly yourself with prospects and customers. We can all probably think of at least a few people throughout our careers who stand out for their unique personalities, and when they bring their full selves to their jobs, our interactions with them feel genuine and real.
What happens when you’re authentic?
In Screw Personal Branding: Why Authenticity is the Best Thing You Can Aspire to in Business, Christopher Lochhead writes, “[A]uthenticity is what works — it’s what brings people in and keeps them. They want something real and to know they’re investing in a person or a service that isn’t going to fake them out. When you get down to it, authenticity builds trust — and there’s no stronger way to keep people coming back to your business, podcast, or website than if they know you’re the real deal.”
What happens when you’re authentic and take a genuine, thoughtful, real approach to your sales odyssey? When you’re authentic and real in your interactions with prospects and customers, it gives space to build more meaningful relationships and it creates trust. Your prospects and customers will feel that you are putting genuine thought into your interactions with them, and they’ll know they can trust you. And we all know that the strongest business relationships are built on the strongest foundations of trust.
Now, here’s your REAL challenge: What will YOU do this week to embrace AUTHENTICITY in your approach to selling or marketing? Share your ideas in the comments!
Authenticity is a key piece of Alyce’s REAL approach to humanizing B2B sales and marketing – it’s our letter A. Check out our posts covering the letters R and E, and stay tuned for our upcoming blog post covering L. For more content on humanizing B2B sales and marketing, check out this episode of the MarTech Podcast and our blog post about Alyce’s REAL approach here.