Outdoor and fitness goods retail chain REI recently made an announcement that it would be closing stores on Black Friday. You should do the same.

I’m not talking about closing your store. What I’m referring to is believing so strongly in what you do that you actually live it. While many believe that REI closing all 76 of its stores on Black Friday may be a lost revenue opportunity, I would say that REI's #OptOutside initiative shows the world how fearlessly unapologetic and authentic the company is. This move will create new customers, cement more intense loyalty among existing customers and just may spark a crusade to reel in some of the insanity that is Black Friday shopping.

This all begs the question: Do you practice what you preach? The other day a colleague asked me, "What is the single greatest business development tool you use?" My answer was much like what REI is doing on Black Friday -- it’s practicing what I preach. I’m a coach, but every month I scratch a fairly sizable check to someone who coaches me.

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Do you believe strongly enough in what you’re selling that you buy it yourself? Do your people?

If not, you’re in bigger trouble than you think. You’re not emotionally and personally invested in the very thing you claim is valuable to the marketplace.

Owning it yourself first vs. simply trying to sell it to someone is the difference between lip service and putting your money where your mouth is. The former is disingenuous and incongruent. Your prospects can sense that. When you are invested, people see that you’re making a physical, emotional and financial commitment that is heartfelt. What you do and what you say are congruent.

For a short period of time I was a consultant for a sporting goods manufacturer. It struggled to gain market share, and it was quickly apparent why. The manufacturer's sales reps didn’t believe in the products and didn’t use the products. It even hired a spokesperson to endorse the product, but she would only be photographed with the equipment for ads and wouldn’t actually use the equipment in games. When I told its leadership not to enter into that endorsement relationship and they ignored me, I fired them as a client.

Contrast this with the massive success of Marucci Sports, who much like REI, lives its mission. Marucci has never paid a spokesperson -- each professional athlete who represents and endorses Marucci bats is actually an investor in the company and uses the bats in games. A bat is to a baseball player as a scalpel is to a surgeon. If you’re not confident about the quality you can’t effectively perform, much less represent the brand.

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People don’t buy from us based on our words. They decide based on our actions.

Maybe, like me, you’re not selling a physical product. You still need to be invested, otherwise you will lose in the marketplace to those who are. When a prospective client tells me they are interviewing several coaches, I share with them who my coaches are and encourage them to ask the other professionals they’re interviewing who their coach is. If the coach can’t answer that, they don’t believe in what they sell enough to buy it themselves.

Essentially, it would be a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do relationship. Game over. I have yet to lose a prospective client based on this, which tells you something about the incongruence in my profession. I bet yours isn’t all that different.

Do you believe in what you’re selling enough to actually invest in it yourself first? If you’re not willing to pay for it, how can you expect anyone else to value it?

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