I don’t shop at Hugo Boss. But my 22 year old son, who has just landed his first B2B account management role, as of this weekend, now does! Still happy to take Mum with him, we stroll through one of the major department stores to check out their choice of suits. We have no idea what we are looking for, just that there are price tags of $600 for very average looking suits and shop assistants too busy putting on lipstick to help us.

So we walk out and figure we might go into the ‘upmarket shops’ to look. In we walk and knowing time is ticking I walk up to the assistant. He puts out his hand and introduces himself as Matt. I ask him in a whisper,  ‘It’s June next week and do you guys do EOFY sales?’. He replies that they don’t usually advertise but they have a 30% sale on certain suits right now. So I introduce him to my son, Matt. They both shake hands and immediately talk ‘boy talk’.

Meanwhile, I am overdressed and melting so whilst my son is trying on a suit, I get guided to a seat and offered a glass of water. I feel like I am experiencing my own personal summer, so I ask for a second glass and while the ties and shirts are being looked at, they offer me a third. I accept.

‘Trousers need lengthening’, he says, ‘but we will cover that’.  ‘Jacket needs tailoring’ he whispers to himself. Because this guy’s been to ‘Hugo Boss University‘ (yes, there is such a place) he pulls out his silver headed bobby pins and begins to tailor the jacket. Now, I’m really impressed!’

I will personally call you on Thursday and we will have it ready for you to pick up’, he says, shaking our hands as we leave.

There is a feeling of authenticity and exclusivity, especially considering that Hugo Boss’ value proposition includes,  ‘engaging consumers emotionally’.

And so my son proudly parts with $800 for  a suit that was only $200 more than the ‘average’ suit, and worth every cent.

Why was it worth it?

Well, businesses who are true to their brand, we trust. Even if there is more investment required from us, even if we have to wait.

And people who are true to themselves, we also trust.

Authenticity is more than a buzz word. It is about being the real deal.

And in business today, we really need to be the real deal. We need to tailor our approach to the buyer. We need to lose the attachment to just focussing on doing a deal. We need to be the exclusive Hugo Boss, not the run of the mill Department Store.

So how do we become the real deal? How do we become more authentic?

Well the answer is… you can’t. You don’t ‘become’ authentic. It’s about ‘being’ authentic.”

Authentic is who we already are. We have just layered ourselves with so much stuff that it creates inauthenticity. So it really is a matter of peeling back those layers to become less inauthentic so people will be attracted to us and see our innate value.

Authenticity has never been needed more as a differentiator in customer engagement, than today.

According to consultancy Cohn & Wolfe, they ‘surveyed people in the United States and 11 other major markets to rate the top 20 desirable behaviours in a brand. Innovation, great products, and having a popular brand were all near the bottom of the list.The top of the list was:

Brands Need To Embrace Authenticity

And today, every individual who represents their company in a frontline role, is also representing their own personal brand as well as their company’s.

So here are three things can we do to show the world the real and genuine value we offer:

1. Recognise The Invisible Pedestal

No one is better than anyone else and no one is less than anyone else. We all come to the table with a strength that complements someone’s weakness. My first ever coaching client was the opposite personality to me and an engineer. He was a CEO/Director of a mining conglomerate in Northern Qld. What did I know about mining? What value could I give a CEO? What was I going to do to bridge the gap between his left brain thinking and my right brain thinking? Well, I could have pretended I knew what I was doing, but I simply recognised ‘The Invisible Pedestal’ and was honest. I said, ‘I know nothing about mining or running a business and you know nothing about the psychology of selling, so between the two of us we are going to kick butt. Four years later we were still working together.

2. Blur The Lines

People want real. They want people to let them in, and in business those lines between personal and professional, that were once very separate,  are now being blurred. Social media is contributing to that and paradoxically, social media is also a vehicle for people to not show their true colours. To puff themselves up. To lie. To be self-aggrandising sycophants. And guys, you are more prone to ‘dress up the shop window with 50% of you’, as surveyed by British digital marketing company, Custard, ‘fabricating facts’. Our BS meters are finely tuned today. People want to get to know the real you and feel that you have their best interests at heart.

3. Share Your Personality

What does your website, your marketing collateral, your sense of humour, your levels of engagement, say about you? In a world of change and creating cut through what are you doing that is demonstrating your personality? What are the stories you are telling? What videos are you creating? What social media posts are you contributing? What wins and celebrations are you sharing? What hand written notes are you sending? Personality sells. Share yours!

Finally, when you lose the attachment to what you think people want from you, you end up helping others even more, being more valuable and even more trusted.

And that suits me just fine!

Be Bold, Brave and Brilliant

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Bernadette McClelland is CEO of 3 Red Folders – a modern day saleswoman and keynote speaker on business growth, personal leadership and sales performance.

BIO: Business environments wanting to increase their revenue and profits, and differentiate themselves in a competitive market, ask for Bernadette McClelland because of her thought leadership on sales performance, her ideas on thinking beyond resilience and her fresh perspectives surrounding personal leadership skills — all designed to master the outcomes that matter.

Bernadette has proudly coached Harvard MBA students on their sales enablement curriculum, been the Master Asia Pacific coach for Anthony Robbins across twelve countries, authored five books on leadership and sales transformation, won a coveted Telstra award for Business Excellence, and continually shares her ideas around behaviour, the brain and business growth on stages in the UK, Europe, Thailand, India, NZ, Australia and North America.

Believing that sales performance is a leadership issue, you will also find her heading Melbourne’s human potential based sales performance consultancy, 3 Red Folders, as she navigates lead generation, message to market and digs deep into sales process activities with her clients in the mid-tier sector as well as founding ‘Women Who Sell’, an initiative designed to bring more women up to speed in their sales success.

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