An unknown philosopher once said, “The pursuit of earning trust, not greed, will bring success.” Salespeople who focus on the opportunity, the deal, and the revenue when engaging a prospect often find success elusive. However, success often comes easier to the salesperson who focuses more on earning the trust of their prospect more than earning their next commission check.
When the prospect trusts the salesperson, barriers will be eliminated. Trust leads to open and frank discussions about the real business problems the prospect is experiencing and the impact those problems are having on the business. Only then can real solutions be explored. Effective selling starts with effective problem solving and effective problem solving is built on a foundation of trust. Below are ways to build a solid foundation of trust.
1. Educate and inform.
People look to experts for solutions and advice. Most people are hungry for resources they can rely on to help them be better business people. They want to be well informed and be given the opportunity to learn new concepts. Offer yourself as a resource to your prospects. Let your prospects “pick your brain” and freely share your knowledge, experience and expertise. Position yourself as the thought leader your prospect turns to whenever they have questions or want to learn something new.
2. Be empathetic.
This starts with asking good questions and being a good listener. Respond appropriately by demonstrating an understanding of their situation, their business, and their industry. This means you need to do a little research first. Today, salespeople have a wealth of information at their fingertips. Google should be every salesperson’s best friend. You shouldn’t have a conversation with a prospect before you read their website and LinkedIn profile.
3. Be relevant.
Reading news articles, press releases, earnings reports, etc. can provide great insight into the issues a target organization is facing. Demonstrate an understanding of what’s going on in their business and industry by sharing relevant examples of how you’ve helped similar companies solve similar business problems.
4. Engage the prospect on their terms and timeframe.
Many business people are busy and wearing many hats. They may not have time to explore potential solutions until long after the business day has ended. In fact, many executive decision makers do their research late at night or on weekends. You may not be available to speak with them then, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a resource for them. Develop online content that anticipates and answers your prospects’ questions. Publishing thought leadership blog articles, eBooks, white papers, etc. will allow you to be a valued resource to your prospect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
5. Follow through.
Say what you’re going to do and do what you say. Clearly outline the next steps you will take with a prospect. Tell them when and how these steps will occur and set appropriate expectations for how you will engage with them. Then do exactly what you said you would do. If you said you would email them on Friday to give them an update, then send them the email. If you said you would call on Monday afternoon, then call on Monday afternoon. The world is filled with salespeople who over-promise and under-deliver. Don’t be another one.
Follow these steps and make earning the trust of your prospect your primary sales objective. Because once trust is established, the opportunity, the deal, the revenue and the commission will happen as a matter of course.