In today’s article, I want to give you a glimpse of just how powerful authentic selling is on an example of my own LinkedIn consulting business.
Even though I have never built a big audience (intentionally!), I’ve earned consistent six figures year after year – and I did that by using authentic selling principles I write so much about.
This time, I want to tell you a true story spiced up with some practical advice.
Also, I want to mention that this article is not here for me to brag, but to show you how the principles of authentic selling work “in the real world” and can benefit your business long- term.
If you sell and show up authentically online for your audience, you’ll never get caught in the FOMO or make business decisions based on the opinion of others, trends, or what you read on the Internet.
Simply because – you’ll attract like-minded people into your orbit.
When I started my LinkedIn online consultancy in 2016., I already had experience with acquiring clients over LinkedIn for my prior business, a health-tech startup.
If you don’t know, I come from Croatia, and back in 2016. I had no credibility in the online coaching space, plus – not a lot of people knew where Croatia was.
I didn’t have a lot of room for mistakes, and my voice needed to be clear.
I knew that in this business I wanted to show up as me, as the health-tech business, working with VCs, raising money…there was a specific role I needed to play as a CEO of a promising startup.
You see, the funny thing about coming from Croatia is that we have, as a culture, a pretty straightforward, non-BS approach to things.
We are from the Balkans, hot-blooded, honest, politically incorrect, and intense.
We don’t “beat around the bush” and we get straight to the point pretty quickly.
This was something I couldn’t quite do working with VCs, and it was really frustrating.
I wanted to have a business that would support my freedom, and my startup was not in that place.
So I made one of the toughest decisions in my life.
I decided to walk away from my startup and start my own business in a new industry.
A business where I could set my own rules and make my own decisions.
Coming into an online coaching space, I very soon realized there is a BIG difference between me and other “LinkedIn gurus” that were in the online space at the time.
The first, and most obvious was that there were a lot of un-authentic “experts”, selling strategies that, for a fact, I knew weren’t working.
These strategies were sleazy, to say the least (for example – the known “let’s use automation tools and spam everyone in their LinkedIn Inboxes”), and while they produced some quick-term, random results for their clients…
…very soon these strategies flopped and resulted in businesses losing their credibility and getting their accounts restricted.
I found it odd that these “LinkedIn gurus” were swearing by ineffective strategies, piling up cash from their clients but not piling piles of cash back into their client’s businesses…
In other words, they were lying to their followers.
They were selling quick-fix, overnight dreams of hundreds of leads on LinkedIn, and while I was building my strategies on organic, ethical, and authentic approaches…
…I started to think there was something wrong with me.
I just couldn’t sell what I thought was wrong, and the idea of, again, working in a business that’s not aligned with my core values…wasn’t an option.
One of the big values I have is telling the truth.
That means – telling the truth in the sales process, too.
And even though I could have made so much more money by deviating from my value of speaking the truth, I knew there’ll be a time when these burnt business owners will be seeking my help.
I kept speaking the truth about LinkedIn, communicating with my audience using truth bombs, and sticking to what I knew was right.
This is the trivia.
The more you stick to what is authentic to you and what you stand for, and as long as you don’t break under the FOMO on clients or revenue – it will pay off, big-time.
Authenticity ALWAYS pays off.
In the summer of 2017., I opened my Facebook group because I wanted to create a space for business owners that wanted to hear the truth and get LinkedIn strategies that would work long-term.
I appeared in the Facebook group live at least 2-3 times a week and I talked about LinkedIn strategies that I knew worked – because I’ve tried them all myself.
I created probably the first FB group focused on LinkedIn where it was forbidden to promote LinkedIn automation tools, knowing that this will only spiral my audience into the wrong mindset and into getting their LinkedIn accounts shut down.
Other “LinkedIn experts” called me “difficult” and “complicated”, because they never understood what my core values are.
But, as my Facebook group grew, I never gave in to the BS and the hype.
I stayed true to myself, my values, and my strategies.
And the truth.
I was relentlessly calling out BS-ers, knowing that it might result in people leaving the group to search for the next “big-fix promise”, but I kept focusing on what I knew was true.
I never lied to my audience.
I would show up on Live calls from the beach with my towel still wrapped around my head, because – that’s who I am.
I choose to be myself and show up as me in all areas of my business.
I would write a straightforward copy. I would call people out on lies.
I would relentlessly stick to numbers and facts, and my own mistakes that I did on LinkedIn.
I never wanted to compromise my authentic values for anyone.
Or any dollar sign.
I wanted to be honest, whatever that took.
I would be fierce in my sales calls, not focusing on the sale, but on telling people the truth about what they need to do and then just letting them choose whether that resonates.
And as I kept doing my thing, something magical happened.
The business owners that did not resonate with my values, left my group, my orbit – and they never became my clients.
(Which was fine with me.)
But the ones that did resonate with my values and who I am as a person were blown away because it seemed that “I just don’t give a fuck” and became long-term clients.
How did being unapologetically me look like in terms of sales?
Anything that I put out there – training, programs, masterclasses – my audience bought over and over again.
Throughout the last seven years, I served over 500 unique clients and over 1,500 customers.
What does this tell you?
That about 30% or more of my audience bought my stuff repeatedly.
Some of them bought my low-ticket AND high-ticket programs.
It didn’t matter what the price tag was – they wanted to work with me because they knew I was telling it like it is.
They valued the exact thing I valued, too. Honesty and truth.
So, why is this story important to you?
It shows you that, no matter what anyone else says – you can be authentic and still sell
The more authentic you are, the more you’ll repel people that don’t vibe with you and attract clients that resonate with you on a deeper level.
Your authenticity will do the selling for you. Another example?
I swear a lot.
I swear in my daily life because I come from the Balkans, and it’s just the way we talk.
Did my potty mouth repel a lot of potential clients?
Yes, it did.
But, did it also attract people that vibe like me and accept that swearing is just the way I talk?
So, for all of you reading this, one thing to always keep in mind.
There will always be haters and there will always be people that accept you as you are.
Your job is not to make everyone happy (as one meme says “You can’t make everyone happy, you are not a Nutella jar, lol) – your job is to be you and do your thing in a way that feels aligned to who you truly are.
That is what authentic selling is all about. Now, a little exercise for you.
Take a piece of paper and write down what your core values as a person are.
Whatever they are – just write them down.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to this exercise.
Just write down what you stand for and the values you hold strongly.
After you’ve done that, go online and see whether your content and sales process reflects that.
Are you hiding who you truly are in fear of rejection?
Are you communicating what you stand for openly to your audience?
Are you holding yourself back?
If there s a mismatch between what your values are and how you portray yourself online, you need to make a decision (just like I did).
Are you going to keep hiding, trying to people-please your audience?
Or are you going to start to talk more openly about your opinions and values?
It’s a decision only you can make. But remember.
If one potty-mouth Croatian woman built a multiple-six-figure business by just being herself – you can do it, too.
The only one standing in your way is – you.