The Law of Authenticity: Why ‘Sales’ is Not a Dirty Word

By Will Straughn

Hi, I'm Will. I'm the New Business Dude at Focus Lab.

Ok, let's be frank: I'm in sales. And, now let's be more frank: people think all sorts of low things about salesmen.

Why is that? One of the definitions of "salesman" in particular is pretty awful - a disappointment, typically one arising from being deceived as to the merits of something.


For more than a decade the word "sales" has been in my job title (with the exception being when I joined Focus Lab). Can I construct the best pitch you've ever heard, come up with a counter to any objection, or strong-arm clients with my lethal weapon the "hard close?" Well, no. I believe that what’s right for my client is right for me, even if that means I don’t sell a thing today.

I recently finished reading Bob Burg and John David Mann's The Go-Giver and Go-Givers Sell More. These books describe how I have thought about my job all along, why I never really got burned out, and why I've actually enjoyed what I do.

The books are built around a few basic laws for helping any salesperson or business become more successful. They are known as the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success (kind of corny but filled with juicy goodness). The goal? Don't focus on what you’re going to get. Turn the focus to what you are going to be able to give your clients.

With that in mind, here is an example of the difference between a bad, a good, and a great company or salesperson. A bad company tries to give you just enough product and service - both in quality and quantity - to justify the money it takes from its customers. A good company strives to give the most quality and quantity for the money it charges. But a great company strives to defy the typical sales imagination by seeking to provide a higher quality product and service than the amount it charges. This takes the focus off of what the company or salesperson is getting and on to what they are giving.

I use the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success daily in my interactions with potential clients. But the law that influences my practice the most is the The Law of Authenticity. The definition of "authentic" - not false or copied; genuine; real - couldn't be further away from the definition of "sell," but this law is what has allowed me a positive and enjoyable experience within my sales career.

According to The Law of Authenticity, the most valuable gift you have to offer in sales is yourself. Don't try to be something you’re not and keep in mind you're human. Also, just listen. Most salespeople are so focused on remembering every single product detail or why their service is far more superior than the competition's that they don’t pay attention to the person in front of them. They become more concerned with what they’re going to say next instead of listening to what their prospect is saying.

In my conversations, I'm more concerned about learning about our prospects' goals or company than trying to explain why our team is like the Avengers of the design world who will help them make millions. Bill Kenney is totally our Captain America and Erik Reagan is all Iron Man.

But I digress.

Practicing the Law of Authenticity allows our clients to feel comfortable with us and not like they are getting a well-tuned, insincere master pitch. It allows us to point our prospects in the right direction for their project, even if that means sending them to another creative agency or designer.

If you are an entrepreneur or salesperson and looking for guidance, these two books are totally worth your time. It might revolutionize the way you look at sales in the future, and help your business continue to grow.