Hang on, am I supposed to be this super successful, sales guru/expert/ authority who knows what she wants in the world, is a beacon of hope for salespeople and sales leaders and puts on a mask to show that she has it all covered?

I might have toyed with the idea a long time ago, but soon realised it was going to be exhausting and serve no one, especially me.

So when you read my words, hear me speak, experience my coaching or sit opposite from me when I sell – what you see is what you get! Imperfections, scars, warts and all and I’m now OK with that because my strengths and commitment to you will outnumber my weaknesses every single time…and we need both to balance ourselves out.

With the ongoing sales strategies and behavioural work that I do with sales teams in the UK, NZ, Asia, USA and Australia, (where I am I hope, a beacon of hope ;)) there is a common theme across all cultures, ages, roles and geographical borders…

People are, quite simply, scared of what other people will think of them, preventing so many opportunities from occurring.

They are scared of what people will think of them, unsure of what to say, and nervous about putting themselves out there, preventing so many opportunities from occurring.

  • a need for perfectionism, control and power, approval or wanting to be liked
  • a fear of rejection
  • a path of massive procrastination
  • a lack of authentic connection
  • a level of personal stress and anxiety and
  • a lack of results


It is one of the biggest saboteurs to sales success (yet most think it is because they can’t close a deal or overcome an objection!).

My question is ‘have you ever stopped to consider what is so stunningly right with who you are and what you offer?’

Have you ever considered ‘What is so flawed about knowing and believing you are the right person at the right place at the right time for your role?’

If not, it’s worth taking a few minutes to think about it. Like right now!

By you living with this illusion that you don’t quite have what it takes to be in your role, that people might think you are an imposter, that perhaps you might get caught out for not being enough, due to any number of reasons – age, gender, experience or any other perceived limitation you choose to use and cover up:

  • You run the risk of becoming a ‘yes’ person when your buyer wants someone to speak their truth.
  • You run the risk of polarising people because we can all sniff inauthenticity a mile off
  • You show a level of discomfort when asking those hard questions.
  • You might be seen as weak by your buyer as a result of the mask slipping and your lack of confidence with authority peeking out.
  • It might mean you agree with something you have no idea about because you don’t want to be seen as having absolutely no idea! (Ever laughed at a joke and someone said ‘what did they say?’ and you had to admit you were laughing at something you didn’t even hear or understand? Awkward!)
  • It might mean you compromise your personal values or your business’ values because you believe backing yourself might scare someone away.

Basically, it means you are being someone you’re not and that weakens you, your spirit and your personal brand.

But what if you forgot to be who you were ‘supposed’ to be?

What if you dropped the pretence of being someone you weren’t?

What if you forgot about measuring yourself by someone else’s yardstick, lost the attachment to what your perception of other people’s thoughts really were and just got on with life and business?

We don’t need to be fixed or change who we are – no one is broken. We simply need to adapt some of our behaviours; the operative word being SOME not ALL. We might need to take on board some well meaning feedback (about our behaviour, not about us as a person!) and make some slight tweaks to tighten or loosen our rules. That’s called growth and innovation; something businesses need more of, and yet the answer is oftentimes found in their people, at no additional expense!

By being the real you, would you piss some people off?

Yes, but they would probably never have been aligned to your values in the first place so take them off that invisible pedestal! Don’t get swept up in their narcissism, their ego, their bullying, and their disdain for you, their constant testing, their lack of respect and the feeling you have adopted that you are not enough.

By being the real you, would you attract people who shared your views, your values and your voice?

Definitely, and this would strengthen your level of conviction and self belief even more!

Our customers know when someone is real, especially in today’s competitive and transparent economy, and they will cut you some slack if you show you are there to serve them.

Inauthenticity is not sustainable. You might be able to put a front on for a while but when pressures arise, social situations crop up or relationships deepen, then people’s true colours will show through soon enough. People will either trust you more, or trust you less as a result. And good business is based on practicing trust and agreement.

Businesses need people to be sustainable, not just bottom lines

If you aren’t being you, you are selling yourself short. Hedging your bets by ‘faking it till you make it’, is not fair to you. It is you giving people someone else to like until you feel it’s safe for them to like the real you, if you last that long.

In coining, ‘mistake it till you make it’, I believe doing your best work, preparing, learning, researching, thinking differently, asking for help and showing up as someone who exhibits transparency, vulnerability and humility is the real deal worthy of bell ringing.

There is nothing more refreshing than to be with someone who owns their value, except to be that person. To focus on those strengths you know you give yourself permission to have, as well as being aware of your weaknesses, will work wonders for all.

If you want people to trust you and lean on you and call you up before your competitor, then as scary as it is to some and as foreign the idea may appear to others, it’s time to forget showing up as the person you think you are supposed to be, and proudly show up as you!

Will you ruffle some feathers or spread your wings?

Be Bold, Brave and Brilliant

The Science of Strategy - What Steve Jobs and I Have in Common

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.

Book your Conference or Sales Kick Off Meeting today!
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Previously published in the Top Sales World Magazine – Inspiring the global sales community

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