For most of us selling a solution, whether a product or service, we have come to expect a long, often drawn-out sales cycle. There are a lot of factors that go into the decision to buy/not to buy from us including the product/service in question, their needs, your salesmanship, etc... But one of the most underrated, yet powerful aspects of the sale is building trust and credibility with your audience. Building trust and credibility with your audience requires four elements.
No different to when you are face-to-face at a first appointment, building trust and relationship requires you to think of them, the customers, as the key drivers for your actions. What do they want/need to know? What motivates them? What will they respond to?
For example, if you see an article or some news that you believe from your discussions with them they would value, or be interested in, send it to them (even if it may have nothing to do with what you sell). The receiver will view you as being interested in their success not just making a sale.
Another example is trying to understand what hurdles stand in the way of solving their problems. While this information will certainly help you in your strategy, it will be viewed as being empathetic to the fact that they probably have a full plate with lots of other pressing things, in addition to talking with you.
It may be more how you behave than it is what you say. Think of friends that you view as highly trustworthy and dependable. What do they all have in common? Regardless of their differing personality types and characteristics, you know that you can count on them to live to their promises. That is how you want your prospect to think of you.
As salespeople, just like in any personal situation, we need to be consistent in everything we do. We need to set precedents we know we can maintain. We need our audience to be able to entrust us to do something and know we will always deliver.
In summary, call when you say you will, write what you say you will write, deliver what you promise, be honest about pricing, be on time, be prepared, show respect and keep your temperament even.
Less but More Frequent
Recognize that even extremely interested prospects have busy lives and short attention spans. Your prospect is being bombarded with information all day. So pick what genre you want to focus on—about you, about your company or about your products/services—and keep it to a page (two maximum). For unsolicited mail/e-mail/faxes this becomes even more critical.
When faced with a prospect that just says “send me some information,” try asking them what information they would like to see. Do they want to know the company’s history, products, expertise or customer list?
If you have, for example, five pieces of information you feel your prospect should learn about you, break it up and send it one at a time over several weeks or months. It will be far easier for them to digest, not to mention the fact that you now have had the chance to “touch” them and get your name out there five times instead of once. You always have the “next” piece of information to offer them each time you talk as opposed to giving it all away at the first opportunity.
So break your information down and hold onto it. Touch your prospect slowly, consistently and frequently.
Like anything in life, variety is key. In the world of educating your prospective customers variety can be the difference between your message successfully getting across or not.
Remember that not everyone likes communicating in the same way. Some prefer e-mail, some enjoy hard copy and others really just want to see your face. Make sure your company offers information in a variety of formats and ask your prospect what they prefer. Also, try to differentiate yourself. It is not always necessary to give critical information every time you “touch” your audience. Simple thank you cards or “thinking-of-you” e-mails can make a lasting impression and they are so easy to do. Even meeting reminders prior to your phone or face-to-face appointment, outlining the agenda or objectives of the call, will help show them that you are a credible business person.
In conclusion, people trust people that put them first, people who are unconditionally consistent, do the “little things,” take time to learn what their “buttons” are, and through perseverance and patience, take time to engage them frequently without coming across as self-serving or inundating them with information all at once.
Developing a business relationship built on trust and rapport may be the key to landing your next account