When we think of selling we tend to think of a used car salesperson. We hate to walk on a car yard for fear of being “sold to!” We instinctively don’t trust them.
It’s become fashionable to attack salespeople as not being an honorable profession. There are amazing stories of what a salesperson is. Fast talking, fancy suits, can’t get their story straight and most of all they are just sleazy! Every profession has its own stereotypes.
Imagine you are in business and you have no sales. How long would you last? A business cannot survive without sales. So why is there shame in being called a salesperson? Growing a business has everything to do with how well customers trust you.
Let’s take a look at what selling is – and what selling isn’t.
What is selling?
It’s a good question. There are many schools of thought on what selling is – or isn’t. Like any profession, there are stereotypes about what a good or bad salesperson is. Before a salespeople can be respected, they first have to learn how to build trust and confidence with prospective customers.
Have you ever had that experience when you walked into a store and you hated the salesperson so much you walked out saying… “I don’t care how much I want or need that product or service, I will never buy from them!”
You don’t trust the salesperson
In this scenario, chances are this is what you felt.
- You didn’t trust the salesperson
- You felt they were only interested in the commission they would make
- They were pushy, rude, distant or not interested in helping you buy
- They invaded your personal space and it felt really uncomfortable
- They didn’t ask any questions about what you were looking for
- They didn’t confirm what you wanted, was the right thing for you
You trusted the salesperson
Then another time you go into a store looking to buy something and you connect with a salesperson so much you come away with much more than you ever intended to buy or, you bought something you had no intention of buying.
What’s the difference? In this scenario, chances are this is what you experienced.
- You felt an immediate connection with the salesperson – you were in rapport
- You felt they were there to help you make a decision that was right for you
- You trusted their expertise and willingness to help you find the right product or service
- They asked great questions that uncovered your real needs
- You made a choice based on the fact that the purchase you made was right for you because it helped you resolve a problem or realize an opportunity
In other words, in the first scenario the salesperson was looking to sell you something. In the second scenario the salesperson helped you buy. A big difference.
1. Perception is reality!
Unfortunately, perception is reality. The different perceptions people have of what salespeople do is amazing. A very important part of the sales process is to instill trust, confidence and credibility with a prospective buyer without which it’s very difficult to close a sale.
How to build trust?
2. Build rapport
People do not buy from people they do not like. Firstly you need to build rapport so that your prospective customer will begin to like you. Once they start to like you, they then start to trust you.
3. Ask effective questions
Great salespeople ask effective questions that help resolve a problem the prospect is facing or helps them gain the rewards that come from pursuing an opportunity. The art of asking effective questions immediately relaxes the prospect because they feel like you are trying to help them make the right decision – for them! And they begin to trust that you will do the right thing by them.
4. Get their perception of you
Sometimes if you are meeting with a prospect for the first time, you might want to find out what their perception of you is. If they had a bad experience with your company, your industry or another salesperson, this can taint their opinion of you. By asking them up front what they already know about you, it flushes out possible negative experiences. It allows you to clear up any misconceptions or misunderstandings up front and rebuild any trust that was previously lost.
5. Invest in yourself
Would you ask a dentist to fix a blocked drain? No you would ask a plumber. Would you ask a lawyer to perform open heart surgery? No you would ask a surgeon. Would you ask a teacher to build a house? No you ask a builder. We ask specialists to perform these tasks because that is what they have been trained to do. Yet we ask people to sell products and services all the time to perform a task they haven’t been trained to do.
Often salespeople are not trained in basic sales skills that are vital to their survival in a sales environment. This is why salespeople get a bad name. They do a lot of talking and very little listening. Not being trained how to sell creates a culture of order takers who don’t add value to the sales process because they do a lot of telling, or selling. They simply don’t know how to help people buy. It’s essential to invest in yourself and your staff to ensure you are all well equipped to build trust and confidence with prospective customers.
6. Become a good listener
Once you have built trust and confidence with a prospective customer, you are then in a position to move them through the buying and selling cycle (Bi-Sell-Cycle™). That means as well as asking great questions, you have to be an even better listener. Nothing continues to build trust and confidence as when a prospect feels listened to. Actively listening to the answers gives you a clue as to what the prospect’s needs are without which – you have nothing to sell. Trust has to exist throughout the entire process.
7. Become customer centered
No one cares about you until they know how much you care about them. You must gain the trust and confidence with a prospective customer before you can begin to influence them to buy from you. Instead of focusing on selling, center the selling process around the prospect by understanding how buyers make buying decisions.
8. Respect the art of selling
Nobody experiences more rejection than salespeople. Those who become good at it naturally experience less rejection than others who are not so good at it. This comes down to training and attitude. If you are defensive or ashamed about being in sales, why would a prospective customer trust you let alone want to deal with you. Simply by changing your attitude from a person who looks to sell to a person who looks to help people buy, you will immediately build trust and confidence with a prospect.
Selling is more than simply having a lot of product knowledge. It’s being able to build trust and confidence so that prospective customers want to deal with you.
On a final note
When you learn to help people buy instead of selling, chances are you will build trust quickly and become far more successful in growing your sales.
In A Nutshell
- Build rapport
- Ask effective questions
- Get their perception of you
- Invest in yourself and learn how to sell
- Become a good listener
- Become customer centered
- Respect the art of selling