So you have done the research on a prospect. Determined they would be a good customer worth pursuing. Fought your way past the gatekeepers. And now you have a meeting with the decision maker. What’s the most important sales skill you need to have perfected for this meeting? Great salespeople know that getting the prospect to trust them is paramount to eventually closing the deal.
What Is Trust?
Trust is developing the relationship where the prospect has confidence in you. When the prospect knows you have their best interest in mind, they will cooperate with you. And you need their cooperation to get answers to your questions. Those answers will lead you to the perfect proposal to win the business.
Great salespeople know that there is only one chance to develop a good first impression. And first impressions both for the prospect and you are built in the early moments of the first meeting. When the decision maker has agreed to meet with you most likely they have done their research too. They have heard from the gatekeepers all about you and your company. And the prospect has been impressed enough to meet with you. Now it’s up to you to prove yourself worthy of their business.
How To Build Trust
In Chapter Six of Secrets Of The Softer Side Of Selling I wrote about the characteristics of great salespeople. The first of these is attitude. For me The Four Agreements from Don Miguel Ruiz is the formula for building trust:
- Be Impeccable with your word
- Don’t take anything personally
- Never make assumptions
- Always do your best
Great salespeople all have a similar attitude. And their personal guideline is the method of trust building they use.
“Be impeccable with your word” means always telling the truth. Just like your mom always knew when you were fibbing, prospects can tell when you are not forthright. If your product or service doesn’t have the feature or benefit the prospect asks about, then don’t pretend it does or can be added. Ask good questions to find out why it is valuable to the prospect. Then show them how the benefit they want is available another way. Don’t over commit. Remember whatever you tell the prospect will someday have to be verified. And even small omissions or misdirection will destroy any trust.
It’s Not About You
Great salespeople have “thick skins”. They understand the conversations with prospects are all about business. So “don’t take anything personally”. The prospect is interested in learning how you and your company can solve his problem. Take the time to build rapport. Build trust. And if the deal doesn’t go your way, find out why. Great salespeople understand when the sale doesn’t close it is because they didn’t convince the prospect of the value of the solution. They don’t take it personally.
Confirm The Facts
Great salespeople are always asking good open-ended questions to get the prospect talking. But they frequently ask questions to confirm what they heard. “Never make assumptions” doesn’t mean you don’t have a hypothesis about whether this prospect will be a long-term mutually beneficial customer. It does mean not to present what you don’t know for certain as a fact. By verifying theories, the salesperson builds trust.
Your Performance Will Vary
We are human. We have good days and bad days. Days when we are at the top of our game. And days when we are not. There are lots of reasons why our performance varies. But whatever kind of day it is, great salespeople always do their best under the particular set of circumstances. When your best is less than optimal take the time to understand why. If something is going on outside of the relationship with the prospect, let them know why you are not at your best. This keeps the prospect from assuming your current performance is your best. And build trust. When you are on top of the world and are crushing your goals. Take the time to celebrate.
What You Can Do Right Now To Build Trust
- Have integrity
- Put the prospect’s interests first
- Approach each sales opportunity with confidence.
To learn more sales secrets see Chapter Six, Characteristics of Successful Salespeople, in Secrets of the Softer Side of Selling. For even more sales encouragement, join our FREE Sales Club! “See” you next week.