A few years ago a friend shared with me that he very much wanted to leave his boring job and go into business with an acquaintance. As their discussions got more serious, some suspicions began to surface. My friend said this guy was often elusive, and some things he said didn’t always add up. But because he disliked his job so badly, for a time he ignored his instincts, wanting to extend his trust to this potential partner.
Thankfully, before it was too late, that indefinable feeling my friend kept getting, convinced him this potential partner did not have the right stuff, and he withdrew. Since that time my friend has discovered a handful of negative things about this fellow’s business practices that make him, oh so glad, he didn’t place his trust in this guy and enter into business with him. Lesson learned.
In the sales profession, the level of trust that prospects place in salespeople directly determines the speed at which they will buy, as well as how profitable those particular sales will be. Very simply, high levels of trust equate to higher closing rates and profits, and that trust is an outgrowth of the sellers’ ability to instill confidence in buyers.
That said, let me suggest some simple activities salespeople can perform that will naturally push the needle on their own trust meter much higher:
Listen actively – Do the math; two ears and one mouth. That’s the answer to how much more important listening is versus speaking. Additionally, hearing and listening are two completely different activities. Too many salespeople simply do not listen to their prospects. This ineptness turns buyers off and is one of the main reasons they request additional salespeople to provide estimates. Begin truly engaging buyers by actively listening to them and your prospects will trust you more.
Exhibit credibility – Prospects and buyers have to know this isn’t your first rodeo. They really want a trusted advisor and not just a vendor, in order to be confident that you have the skill sets to serve them both now and later, long after this sale is forgotten. Credibility is not the title on your business card or the name of the company you represent. Your credibility is you! You’ve got to pull your own little red wagon and be able to convince prospects you can solve their problem and meet their needs.
Speak authoritatively – There’s a big difference between authority and arrogance. As a kid in the early ‘60’s I regularly watched Bullwinkle J. Moose double as Mr. Know It All, by telling his audience how to do everything from disarm bombs to cure hiccups; unsuccessfully I might add. So speaking authoritatively doesn’t mean arrogantly or as a know it all, but rather addressing your buyers needs intelligently so they will begin to view you as a business authority who knows what to do in order to help them.
Treasure their viewpoint – What good is it if you listen to what the prospect says, without appreciating their perspective? Regarding a person’s views does not mean you have to agree with them, but rather that you value their opinions and why they feel the way they do. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by probing and asking additional open questions that will reveal more for you to digest. This action proves you are not only listening, but also attaching importance to what they have to say.
Respect the buyer’s time – Time is the most valuable resource anyone has, superseding even money. It’s important for you to recognize how time is viewed, through their eyes and not yours. This could mean a lengthier appointment than you planned with a buyer, or you’re needing to meet with them at a time you might not have been anticipating. Just remember, it’s all about them, not you. Your money is in their pockets until they trust you enough to pull it out and give it to you.
Show commitment – Thirty years ago I had a mentor who taught me to operate by what he called the, “little bit more principle.” That simply means it’s not enough to just do what you say; you must go an extra mile and do a little more. To this day, every time I take on a new coaching or training client I promise them that I will always deliver more value than I bill them for. At that juncture I’m sure they say “whatever’ to themselves, but it’s not long before they experience what I committed to. I’ll assure you my trust meter needle moves.
Be Yourself – Everybody knows, you can smell a phony a mile away, yet most salespeople still put on the “plastic fantastic” persona. Leave the drama in the theater. You can’t fake it ‘til you make it. It is not a bad thing to admit you don’t know something.
When a potential training client contacts me and asks, “Do you think you can help us increase our sales?” My standard answer is, “I have no idea. I believe that surgery without a diagnosis is malpractice, so I’ll be glad to spend whatever time is necessary performing a FREE assessment of your situation in order to understand the area where you are experiencing PAIN. After that, I’ll honestly tell you whether or not I can help. Fair enough?” I never try to blow myself up. I’ve found virtually everyone appreciates a little humility.
After reading through these suggestions, you might be saying to yourself how easy they all seem. You would be correct in thinking this, but far too reps fail to do these simple things and trust is never developed. This leads to the sales folks sitting around scratching their heads wondering why they aren’t closing more business!
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