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Sales Solutions
The Role of Trust in Selling vol 2, issue #12
July 1, 2004

When we walk into a car dealership, what's the last thing we feel towards the sales person who has just descended upon us? Trust. And why is that? It's because we've been conditioned by our own experience, by the experiences of others, and by the pervasive image of the "used-car salesman", not to. We feel - not unjustifiably - that this individual is concerned only with the commission check he's going to make off us, and not with whether we're getting the value we want. The transaction becomes a contest - and because we don't want him to defeat us, we don't give him the ammunition - information - with which to do so. Instead, we clam up, refusing to reveal our hand, and keep our cards close the vest.


While we don't like to think of ourselves as being in the same league as the used car salesperson (and hopefully, we're not!), the fact remains that many of our prospects initially will. And just as in the used car salesman scenario, our prospects are loathe to reveal their hand to someone they don't even know, and do not yet trust. It's our job, then, to let that prospect know that we are different, and more professional than, the used car salesman. That we are not in it solely for the money. That our objective is to help them solve a problem or achieve a goal that they have. To convey to him (implicitly) that the commission you'll make from this sale is not a goal in and of itself, but rather a by-product of helping him make a well-informed purchase decision (by the way, prospects have no problem with your making money on a sale as along as you've helped them get what they want).


How do we accomplish this?

We start by recalling the truism that people buy from people they like. And people generally like only people they trust. So if you want your prospects to buy from you, you're going to have to earn - and build - their trust. Doing this isn't terribly difficult - you're probably already doing many of the things you should. First, commit to always being honest in your dealings with your prospect. Don't try to hide anything; lay all your cards on the table (the only exception is when negotiating, but we'll be covering that in a future Tip). Be up-front when asked for or challenged about a limitation of your offering (if you've developed a strong, trusting relationship, the prospect will likely work with you to find away around this). Be customer- focused; always convey the sincere notion that you really are about helping this person (or these persons) succeed. Lastly, don't just meet the expectations of your prospect, exceed them. Do some extra research on his behalf that maybe she doesn't have time to do - even (especially) if it doesn't directly further your cause.

Over the course of a sales cycle, doing all these "little" things will slowly build up your reservoir of trust with the prospect. This has the added benefit of positioning you as the lowest-risk option - the prospect knows exactly where she stands with you - and knows there will be no surprises. Since she can't say this about the representatives of the other vendors she's evaluating, you become that much more appealing (whether or not your solution is the best fit for her). Because you've built a high level of trust, and because you've demonstrated a high degree of integrity, you're much more strongly positioned to win the business than are your competitors. And unlike with our used-car salesman, where the transaction is viewed as a contest in which one party gains at the expense of the other, we have established the proverbial win-win scenario.

It's the only way to sell.


ACTION ITEM

Take 15 minutes to review how you conduct business - from the opening call all the way through to commitment and beyond. Are you always being honest with your prospects? Do you approach your work with the customer's goals in mind? Do you do the "little" things that build trust and solidify relationships? If so, great - keep on trucking! If not, commit to improving in those areas that require improvement. Because the more you work on building trust with your prospects, the more dollar signs you'll start seeing.

And the best part is - it won't even feel like work!

Good Selling!




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