Whether you’re selling on a regional or global level or are a part-time real estate agent, it’s imperative that your clients, potential clients, former clients, and partners trust you. Here are some best practices to help position yourself and your company as authentic, authoritative, and credible, and how it can benefit you and your sales.
- Be authentic. People are intuitive. They can tell when you’re being genuine, and they can tell when they’re on the receiving end of a “conversation” you’ve practiced countless times. Normal dialogue doesn’t follow a set agenda, and neither should you when you’re speaking with a client or potential client. In fact, you could end up talking your way out of a deal rather than into one.
When you know your product and what your company stands for, you’ll be able to have a natural conversation. However, if you’re struggling with how to shake that salesperson persona, keep these three things in mind.
- Be self-aware. By understanding who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, your integrity, and your feelings, you can present your most authentic self.
- Be present. Be an active listener and give the person you’re having a conversation with your full attention. Make eye contact, and don’t let your mind wander.
- Be honest. If you don’t think your product is the right fit, don’t push it. Instead, be truthful. Avoid setting expectations you know you can’t meet and earn the trust of the person with whom you’re speaking. They might then refer you to someone you can help, or they might keep you in mind for the future.
- Listen rather than talk. Start your relationship with a lot of questions that show genuine interest in the person and the company you’ve approached. Before you leap onto their first positive signal and start selling, take a breath and keep probing for more information. Remember – conversations lead to conversions. If you have just 20 minutes with them, learn as much about them as you can in the first 10-15 minutes of your session, and save your selling for the last few minutes. Why? Because when you demonstrate that you always put the other person first, whether that’s in a conversation, a meeting, or a sale, they can trust you to value their needs. When you put yourself first, they can’t. It’s that simple.
3. Help without expectations. Your goal is to make the sale.
However, instead of focusing on how a client can benefit you, concentrate on how your product or service can benefit them. This approach might give you the opportunity to offer a new feature to them or connect them with another company as a strategic partner for the work they’re doing and help build that relationship. No matter what the circumstances, you’ll be seen as someone who genuinely cares about your clients and how your work impacts them.
Helpful Hint – As a practice, carry 51% of the relationship. Find small ways to go above and beyond and to be selfless with your current and potential clients. Include them in activities that are advantageous to them as well as to you. Do what’s more convenient for them rather than what’s easiest for you. Whether it’s karma, good luck, or kismet, small things have a way of circling back to benefit you.
- Be professional and knowledgeable. Being authentic, knowledgeable, and putting your client’s needs first are imperative to building trust. However, you also need to maintain your professionalism if you want clients to have confidence in your ability to get things done.
- Arrive early to meetings to show your clients that you care about their time.
- Maintain a clean appearance and dress appropriately for your client’s industry.
- Be prepared with slides, documents, handouts, and FAQs, etc. Study them and know how to reference them during your sales call.
While authenticity can give you a competitive advantage, you still need the basics to back it up. Clients expect you to be knowledgeable not only about your company, but also theirs as well. They want to know that you’ve taken the time to see why your product or solution would be good for them.
Although it is good to forget the canned sales pitch, you don’t want to neglect the information contained it. Make sure to utilize your company’s study materials to keep yourself updated on pertinent information. Even when changes are minor, the client will expect you to be an authority.
Helpful Hint: Professional communication before, during, and after any meetings you have will ensure that you’re representing your company well.
When you’re emailing clients, make sure that your words are spelled correctly, that your message is grammatically correct, and that it is emotionally intelligent. Accurate writing establishes trust. Even if you’re not the best writer, you can come across as the consummate professional you are by using services such as Wordzen, whose editors can help you craft perfect messages.
- Deliver what you promise. This one is simple. If you say you’ll do something, then do it. If you don’t, your trustworthiness will diminish, and you’ll be regarded as unreliable.
If something prevents you from delivering on time, give the earliest possible warning to your client so they can make plans to work around the delay. If you’re an engineer and you can’t have the product created in three weeks, don’t promise that you can and then follow up with excuses after it should have arrived. If you’re a real estate agent and promise you can get the sellers a certain amount for their house, don’t be surprised if they choose to work with someone else after months of receiving no offers from buyers.
When you set and meet expectations consistently, your clients will develop trust in you. That way, when something unfortunate occurs, they’ll know it’s a one-time incident rather than the norm.
Benefits of Earning Trust
- Repeat Business and Referrals – Clients who have established a strong connection with you and who rely on your instincts and credibility will come back to you with repeat business. They’ll also refer others to you.
- Indirect Marketing Opportunities – Satisfied clients will refer you to conference and workshop planners, entrepreneurs, and industry reporters, all of which can increase your public relations and strategic marketing opportunities, ultimately increasing your sales .
How to Regain Trust if You’ve Lost It
- Ask questions. Before suggesting a solution, you need to know and understand your client’s perspective. You don’t want to guess why they might be upset. Ask for their honest feedback, and don’t be offended when they give it.
- Empathize. Formulate an empathetic response that will show clients you care about how they feel and what inconvenience you may have caused.
- Take responsibility. Don’t make excuses. If clients are upset by delays or mistakes, admit your error and apologize for it. “I’m sorry” can go a long way
- Provide a solution. Be proactive and find a way to fix what went wrong or at least improve the current situation. Outsource work to a trusted competitor if you need help fulfilling your obligations. It’s better to lose some business than to lose the relationship and possibly receive negative reviews.
Helpful Hint: Use a service like Wordzen to help you draft the perfect email to regain your client’s trust. Our professional editors know how to craft empathetic messages that are apologetic without sounding defensive or incompetent.
Bottom line, be good at what you do, and be the type of person with whom others want to do business. Listen to your clients and take their concerns to heart. As Zig Zigler, the renowned sales authority, aptly pointed out, “If people like you, they’ll listen to you. If they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”