The most valuable sales tool is trust. If we trust the salesperson we demand less detailed information, require less convincing, and raise fewer objections. Gaining trust has six levels.
Integrity is an internal characteristic. It can’t be manufactured or put on. It isn’t situational – if you have it today, you will have it tomorrow. It must be genuine. Integrity is apparent when what you say is consistent with what you do and who you are. And you put the client’s interests ahead of your own.
As much as your prospect may trust your integrity, he may lack confidence in your product knowledge, especially if it is a complex, technical product or service. A first-year medical intern may have great integrity, but I wouldn’t want her operating on my heart! While building your reputation, don’t compromise your integrity by making up answers to questions. If you don’t know the answer, admit it and find it out.
3. Understanding The Prospect’s Situation
You could have integrity and credibility but if you don’t understand my situation I’ll be skeptical. You can build this type of trust by asking intelligent, directed and pertinent questions. Asking questions lets your prospect know you understand your product, their situation and that you have a solution. In a complex sale, prospects don’t buy because they understand your product; they buy because they believe you understand them and will make the right recommendation.
4. The Company
Even if I like you as a salesperson, if I’ve had a bad experience with your company in the past, my trust will be diminished. If you know that your company has had some problems in the past, it may be wise to raise them and handle that objection before it arises. Explain what you have done to correct past mistakes.
5. The Product
Will the product or service measure up to expectations? If they’ve heard of others with bad experiences, or read negative consumer reviews, then they won’t buy with confidence. Prospects can also be strongly influenced by the research they’ve done online.
6. The Ability To Use The Service To Its Potential
While an individual may trust that a consultant has achieved incredible results with someone else’s company, they might question their own ability to change old habits, methods of operation, and attitudes to take advantage of their advice.
If you’ve built trust in the first five areas, you can still miss a sale if the prospect doesn’t believe in himself. Build self-esteem and confidence through reassurance and encouragement.
Great salespeople have a success rate approaching 100% – not because they are skilled closers, but because they’ve developed a high level of trust with their clients. This isn’t achieved overnight with flashy techniques, but a solid foundation of principles, knowledge, empathy, and by working for a company that provides good service and good products.