Authority Is Rooted in Authenticity
Why Being Genuine is Your Most Valuable Business Tool
Success in any field depends on the kind of relationships you build. So if you want to be perceived as an authority by clients and potential clients, you’ll need to build authentic relationships with your audience as human beings. This means getting to really know your audience’s needs and understanding them as nuanced people who lead busy lives.
Here are 5 strategies to engage with your audience in meaningful and authentic ways:
1. Focus on helping people, not on the sale.
People generally dislike a hard sales pitch. Often, your audience will already be aware that your motive is to sell them something. So going the extra mile to offer value from the moment you meet prospective clients will show them that you operate from an ethic of care, not from a narrow focus on the bottom line.
When you show interest in getting to know and understand the needs of prospective clients, they’ll know you care and will in turn be more inclined to use your services and refer you to other people.
2. Let your leads do (some of) the talking.
If you tend to launch right into a sales pitch when approaching leads, a good strategy to refine this approach is to start by letting the potential client do most of the talking. Besides saving you from being too assertive too soon, listening and asking informed questions allows you to better understand what this particular client wants. When you understand what the lead wants, you’ll be able to tailor your pitch to speak directly to their needs and concerns.
But how do you get your leads to do the talking?
Ask them interesting, open-ended questions that will encourage them to talk to you. When you ask a question, stay quiet and listen to what they say. Interrupting and talking over people can make a bad impression.
You can keep the conversation flowing by following up with more specific questions to help you identify how you can help them. Be careful not to pepper them with so many questions that they feel pressured. Just be authentically interested in their goals and needs and in what’s going on in their lives right now.
If you’re worried you’ll get stuck without knowing what to say, make a list of your top 5 or 10 questions that will help you keep the conversation with different prospects going. Use one or two of these questions if the conversation seems to lag. Your level of authentic engagement may be enough to help them realize that they need your services.
3. Position yourself as the expert.
Clients want to work with experts. Of course, you’re going to listen with genuine interest to your client’s opinions, as discussed above, but at the same time you want to show them that they can rely on you for expert guidance.
Bear in mind that while expertise is certainly built up over time, it doesn’t necessarily have to come from years of experience. Rather, we see someone as an expert when they demonstrate specific knowledge and an established method for success in their niche or field.
You can demonstrate expertise by foregrounding your unique skills in a particular niche within your industry. Maybe you cater to a specific lifestyle, and you demonstrate your expertise by knowing what those who aspire to that lifestyle really want and need to achieve it. Or maybe you excel in local markets, so you learn everything there is to know about your niche location: make connections with other local businesses and service providers, know how to help newcomers acclimate to your locale, and become their local expert.
You might also achieve this expertise by constantly updating your industry knowledge. Stay ahead of industry trends, engage industry thought leaders, and learn everything there is to know about your industry. In short, whatever your area of expertise, put in the extra effort to be as knowledgeable and informed as possible.
4. Have clear goals and boundaries.
When business is tight, you may find yourself tempted to be more pushy with leads or to chase quick fixes. But before you start doubting yourself, go back to the drawing board and remind yourself of your authentic goals. You have a reputation to uphold. You don’t want to ruin relationships you’ve created thus far simply because you’re facing a hard time at the moment.
So go back to the drawing board and lay out your goals again. Set a clear value proposition: what is it that you can deliver for your clients that others cannot? What promise can you authentically make to clients with full confidence that you will be able to deliver?
Authenticity also means being honest with yourself: is there anything that you need to stop promising your prospects because you can’t deliver it? Know exactly what you want to deliver to your leads so you're able to promise something authentic and enjoy solid relationships with your prospective clients.
5. Give them time to make a decision.
One sure way to come across as pushy is to pressure your leads or clients to make quick decisions about a sale or even the choice to hire you. Don’t rush the process. Your job is to offer value, position yourself as an industry expert, and then give them time to make a decision.
Get to know potential clients' needs. Tell your leads you’d like to do some quick research, then get back to them with valuable information that will keep them interested.
Offer to help them, but don’t push for an answer right away. They may say yes or no, or that they want to think about it. If you get something other than a yes, let them know that that is perfectly fine, and give them some time to think about it.
Wait a couple of days — at least three — then send a follow-up email or make a call to find out if they have made any decisions about their next steps.
Business is about people. The more you genuinely get to know clients and how to meet their needs, the more business you stand to gain. To succeed, you need to help people find ways to achieve their idea of happiness, and you can only do this by positioning yourself as an expert resource, not a salesperson.
Want to learn more about how Authorify helps you position yourself as an authority? Authority makes it easy to share your valuable expertise with potential clients through printed books and more.