The Honor System
Prospects don't buy from people they don't trust. So, how can a salesperson compete in a business environment that often reeks of inauthenticity and scam deals? Nobody said it was easy, but with a careful approach, winning over the decision-maker is just a handshake away. Here are five ways to put your clients at ease.
1. BE CURIOUS
People are drawn to those who show interest in them. Think about your technique and the kind of message it sends to prospective clients. Are you asking probing questions and following behavioral cues? Shifting focus to the customer not only shows that you care, but it also promotes open, honest dialogue. As Devin O'Brien, M.A., senior consultant for O'Brien Corporation, St. Charles, Ill., pointed out, sales requires a willingness to learn.
"At first, an offensive strategy (i.e., 'Here is what I have and how I can help') may seem appropriate," he said. "However, taking time to understand your prospect will likely uncover hidden needs that would likely remain a mystery with a 'throw-mud-at-the-wall-and-hope-something-sticks' approach." Based on O'Brien's experience, customers are more inclined to work with a "supportive, collaborative and interested problem-solving partner."
2. CONDUCT A SELF-EVALUATION
Convincing a prospect that you're a trustworthy partner can be a hard sell if you haven't taken the time to evaluate your own strengths and limitations. O'Brien believes that trust starts with the salesperson. "Don't neglect the roots of building trust," he instructed. "You have to walk to the talk with absolute congruence between your behavior, values and agenda."
3. SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Perhaps you're courting a prospect that's still feeling the burn from a previous partnership. Now, you're tasked with competing against empty promises and, sometimes, disreputable business practices that breed distrust throughout your industry. Understand the difference between realistic and unrealistic goals before meeting with a prospect. Unrealistic goals include impractical timelines, exaggerated pricing and booking Kim Kardashian to break the Internet.