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Skill in Life: Fake it to Make it

Marriott International teaches its staff to hold their heads high and to walk tall. Taught as part of a program in conjunction with the prestigious Joffrey Ballet — a Chicago-based ballet company — employees learn how to carry themselves with poise and grace, which together translate into a confident yet welcoming and solicitous demeanor when they greet hotel guests. As a result, Marriott employees consciously change their posture, whether standing behind the reception desk or walking through the lobby. Attitudes and thinking — the brain — catch up with the temporarily faked, newly learned physical presence. Staff becomes how they walk.

This is not a new phenomenon. Ancient Greek thespians used masks to portray what they wanted to project to their audience. As a play went on, or as it was repeated, actors took on the persona of the mask. They somewhat faked their way into theatrical success.

In this light, sometimes you must fake it to make it — or, at least, to increase your chance for success. Carefully plan your sales presentations, from your entrance to greeting to word choice to posture. In fact, it takes just 30 seconds for your customer to form an opinion on you and your product. This is why the manner in which you walk in and greet your customer sets the tone for the meeting and can significantly influence your end result.


I speak from experience. Without ballet training or a Greek mask, I was a poor sales rep. I did poorly because I went in with the wrong posture, the wrong walk, the wrong demeanor and the wrong attitude. I always went in with the mask and posture of “office visit” rather than the mask and posture— and therefore attitude — of “sell.”

While I made a lot of friends in my territory, I seldom made my quotas, never received a sales award, and eventually came to dislike my job. I now believe I could have enjoyed success in this role if a Joffrey Ballet of sorts had taught me how to approach each day; how to start every sales call; how to use proper posture; but, above all, how attitude influences everything. The style of physical presence is important, does set a tone, does send a message, and does influence outcomes — whether in a hotel lobby or a dentist’s office.

All of this fake it to make it seems contrary to what I often write about affirmations — how we can use our mind to change our thoughts and, eventually, our performance. The truth is, they both work. We can use our mind to manage a process for change, improvement and success. Likewise, we can employ physical actions that eventually creep into our minds and change our attitudes.

As a dental sales rep, you need to prepare for every sales call. Obviously you put prep time into product knowledge and understanding your customer’s needs. But be mindful of your body language and attitude when delivering your opening statements. If needed, fake your confidence until you actually become how you walk — focused and self-assured. And you will become even more successful.

From MENTOR. August 2017;8(8):5.