Being Authentic is More than Just Being Nice

Recently, I watched an interview with marketing guru Seth Godin by Selling magazine on the New Face of Marketing. Godin is one of my favorite authors on marketing and I highly recommend signing up for his daily blog. In this particular video, he commented that there really is no difference between B2C and B2B sellers. Godin makes the point that B2B is just a consumer that uses other people’s money. Regardless of what side of the business you are on, he believes that both business segments (B2C and B2B) require companies to: satisfy customer’s wants; be authentic; and tell a remarkable story. It might sound simple, but as many senior managers know, these requirements are very difficult to execute in a world that has lost faith in banking.

This hits home with me because in my consulting practice, I often hear mortgage executives say how third party is more difficult than retail or that consumer direct is more challenging than distributed retail. This is pretty much nonsense as Godin states and represents a bias that justifies one’s own background and experience. The reality is that all business lines are faced with similar challenges of dealing with informed buyers.

I think that Godin raises an important point that today’s marketing is very different from the past when options were limited and customers had to depend on the salesperson and a select few companies for information and products.

Today, customers have a vast array of providers to serve them. In mortgage banking, this is especially true with literally thousands of originators and an endless number of banks, non-banks, and credit unions delivering mortgage products and services.

What works in this new world of selling? According to Godin, one key strategy is being authentic. So, what it means for an originator to be authentic?

Many salespeople believe that authenticity is about being nice and honest which are basic requirements to conduct business. However, the truth is authenticity is complex and demands a salesperson to continually review their sales model in the marketplace.

While there are many definitions regarding being authentic, I like what Kissmetrics, a digital marketing firm says about authenticity. Kissmetrics outlines authenticity as having six main parts. They are:

• Be real

• Be charitable

• Be consistent

• Be responsive

• Be accountable

• Be reliable

I would add one more to the list: Be adult. While authenticity can certainly include other attributes, I think this list covers what originators need to strive for in their interactions with buyers and prospects.

Kissmetrics provides an authenticity checklist that I think is powerful and applies to all originators and managers:

• Define your goals and mission

• Develop a purpose behind what you do other than making money

• Share your mission and your passions with enthusiasm

• Maintain your core identity at all times

• Always be consistent and avoid sending mixed messages

• Champion a cause to show your charitable nature

• Get to know your audience and their desires and needs

• Actively engage with your audience through social media

• Show your personality through content that reflects your inner self

• Only share things of worth—it is better not to share something nobody cares about

• Position yourself as an authority

• Only make promises you are sure you can keep


As we bring 2016 to a close, it is a good time to reflect on the checklist and answer these questions truthfully regarding your authentic self. If you can’t answer these questions or don’t like your answers, make the changes that are required to be authentic.