Be Yourself, Be Enthusiastic: Two Underestimated Rules for Sales Professionals

The following is adapted from Raise Your Standards.

If you’re in sales, you might have been given this advice at some point: “Be buttoned up and professional. Also, don't be overly enthusiastic. It's off-putting.” This advice is dead wrong, and if you've been buying into it, these words are holding you back from becoming the top achiever you were meant to be.

Being yourself and being enthusiastic are underrated tenets for sales pros, and they can help you unlock levels of success that have been beyond your reach. Remember, people want to buy from salespeople they know, like, and trust. How are clients going to do that if they aren’t seeing the real you? 

Prospects might not even remember your name if you’re obsessed with conforming to a cookie-cutter approach to life. Robotic and uninteresting people rarely make headway in careers that require a high level of social skills, like sales. Here’s the why and the how of letting your true personality and energy shine through. 

Why Salespeople Are Afraid to Be Themselves

Many salespeople try to cookie-cutter copy other salespeople. They wear a shiny suit, have super white teeth, and act like Rico Suave. They become a smooth talker or assume they should live a life of golf, country clubs, and slicked-back hair.

You don’t need to be that person. You don’t need to compare yourself to the next sales guru. It’s inauthentic.

Why do some folks risk being inauthentic by acting like this? For some, it’s the work culture they came up in. For others, it’s associated with confidence. They don’t want to admit they don’t know everything because they think it’s a sign of weakness in a sales professional.

Still others feel they need to constantly mirror their prospects’ personalities. They mistakenly assume that understanding personalities that are different from their own means they need to mimic those people, rather than simply using it to their advantage in more subtle ways. 

Why Enthusiasm is Underestimated

People often don’t want to be seen as enthusiastic because it’s not considered desirable. Remember those cool kids from school who were never too keen about anything and never seemed to like anything too much? Enthusiasm is associated with being genuine, and as we already discussed, many salespeople erroneously avoid being genuine. 

Some sales professionals tamp down their natural ebullience, thinking that clients only want to buy on logic. But in reality, they shop on logic and buy on emotion. 

For example, if you’re looking for a new car, you compare gas mileage, maintenance records, and safety features to narrow down your list of potential vehicles—that’s logic. But once you have that shortlist, which car makes you feel the best when you take it out on a test drive? Which one makes your heart beat faster when you think of it parked in your driveway? That’s emotion—in this case, excitement and enthusiasm.

Another great benefit of enthusiasm is that it’s contagious. You can elevate someone else’s mood when they’re having a bad day or get them excited about your product just by generating some real enthusiasm. 

The reason for this is the Law of Reciprocity. When someone does something nice for you or treats you nicely, you are hardwired psychologically to do something nice in return. Some people respond even more positively than your original enthusiastic nature. It’s science!

How to Relax and Be Yourself

Salespeople just need to be themselves to be successful. You don’t need to act or look like you know everything. Be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to say what you don’t know. Let your guard down and let your buyers get to know the real you. A fake veneer of confidence won’t get you very far. 

People gravitate toward genuine people (and sales reps) and they’ll recognize your sincere attempts as just what they are—sincere efforts to make a connection more significant than a sales transaction. That connection is priceless.

Being your true self means that you’ll have to maintain your uniqueness while also adapting to your prospect’s personality. You can understand others’ concerns and make them feel comfortable without losing your own personality in the process. 

Even if you’re using a script on call after call, you can still be yourself. Imagine you’re sitting next to a buddy having coffee or a beer. Explain and answer questions for prospective clients as you would to your friend. You’ll be having a conversation instead of just spewing an obviously rehearsed sales pitch. 

You won't be perceived as dumb or incompetent if you say, “Let me get back to you on that.” Honesty is appreciated. What customers won't appreciate is you lying to them to avoid looking like you don't know something.

How to Make Enthusiasm a Habit

Try this! Take the Enthusiasm Challenge. Over the next week, be as enthusiastic as you with everyone in your life: family, friends, spouse, kids, and colleagues.

You can even be enthusiastic with your waiter or waitress when you’re next out to lunch or dinner. Remember their name when they introduce themselves, say please and thank you, ask them about their day and genuinely care. You’ll get way better service and won’t question if they’ve sneezed in your food.

Dive feet first into your selling career and demonstrate this new zeal for life to your clients and prospects. If you show up with anything less, start over. Be enthusiastic until it becomes a habit and then just a part of your character.

Your quality of life and work will improve as you make enthusiasm your superpower. Wouldn’t you rather be known for being too enthusiastic than not being remembered at all? And wouldn’t it be freeing to be yourself on the job, no matter which clients you’re with? 

Watch what happens when you start being yourself and generating a little more enthusiasm throughout your day. People will respond to you, doors will open, and your conversations will flow. From there, you’ll gain valuable insight about your clients, as they come to you for sales from someone they truly know and like. 

For more advice on how to be an outstanding sales professional, you can find Raise Your Standards on Amazon.

Mark Evans might be the most enthusiastic person you’ll ever meet. His love of sales, life, and the game of business is infectious. He believes that at its very core, sales doesn’t have to be manipulative or sleazy. In fact, Mark believes it’s the greatest job in the world. He’s helped companies and individuals reach the seven-figure sales mark and beyond. At markpatrickevans.com, Mark writes about the new way of selling, and sales leadership.