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On a scale of 1 to 100, how much do you trust the person who sold you your car?
If I asked your customers and clients the same question about you, what score would you get?
This is probably the most critical aspect of sales. The ability to build trust quickly. Do you genuinely come across as caring about the success of the person you are talking to?
Sales organisations and salespeople have always focused on credibility and product knowledge in the past. What is lacking in many sales approaches is the focus on intimacy and what tends to happen is a significant focus on self-orientation, because it is easy.
Trust can be built quickly by reversing this trend, but it takes emotional and intellectual effort.
For someone to trust you, you first need to trust them. Trust and control are opposite sides of the same coin. If you try to keep control, that says you do not trust the other person, and they will try to wrest control from you.
If, however, you show that you trust the other person by giving them control, they will often give control back to you.
For example, if I were to ask my wife if she fancies going out for an Italian meal I have narrowed down the options and I am controlling the conversation. Her response would probably be a rebuttal. “I’d rather have Chinese, or I would like to stay in”. She will take control.
If, on the other hand, I ask “what do you fancy doing tonight” she will likely respond with “I don’t know; what do you want to do?” I gave her control and she returned it.
In my first attempt I maximised self-orientation by making it clear what I wanted to do – that reduced the trust. The second time my self-orientation was zero – I proved my trustworthiness and it was reciprocated.
This is not going to work 100 percent of the time, but it does work as long as it is genuine and not a sham.
This is the opposite of traditional sales training – keep control, talk about products, handle objections, lead the customer.
That worked when there were more customers than providers and money was flowing. In times of mass competition, tight cash and easy access to information customers have changed. The key is to engage your customer as fast as possible and keep them engaged.
There are typically four kinds of statements that customers make:
1. Facts – neutral information.
2. Challenges – problems, concerns or issues.
3. Outcomes – what they would like to achieve.
4. Next Steps – what they think should happen after this interaction.
When someone is relaying facts, their level of engagement is low; when talking about challenges it is higher, but engagement is highest when talking about outcomes.
Most salespeople spend most of their time asking about facts and challenges – and then go straight to the solution because all they are comfortable with and interested in is their offering and selling it.
And that is why most of us don’t trust salespeople.
So the key to maximising the engagement and trust is understanding the outcomes the customer wants to achieve.
The “confirmation” question is a useful tool. This is where the salesperson asks the customer to confirm that of all the challenges or outcomes they have, is the one they are talking about now the most important to them?
If genuine, this can really surprise and please the customer and in the moment change the whole way they view you.
The risk to the salesperson is that the customer may take the conversation in a direction that has nothing to do with your offering – and that is the point.
If the salesperson has a genuine desire to understand and help the customer then they should want to understand the customer’s whole world.
By doing that they prove their trustworthiness and when the customer needs whatever it is the salesperson is selling, why would they go to someone other than the person they trust?
They will also be prepared to pay for the offering, as they see that part of the purchase is buying the trustworthy salesperson.
l Keith Dugdale is director of Related Vision and co-author of Smarter Selling, published by FT-Prentice Hall.
The Consultant Powerhouse is running a series of contcat sessions on the IOWEU selling methodology formulated by Dugdale. They are giving a free seat at one of the seminars to a Workplace reader.
E-mail your details to training@theconsultantpowerhouse with “entry” in the subject line.
For more information about the seminars contact The Consultant Powerhouse at 011 234 6127 or visit www.theconsultantpowerhouse. co.za