"Credibility Is King in Sales"
Salespeople are carrying around a lot of baggage with them when they visit clients. The smooth talking, dodgy sales person trying to con us, is the folkloric villain of the piece. Reversing that doubt and hesitation is critical to gaining acceptance as a valuable business partner for the client. This entire problem is magnified when we meet the client for the first time.
Because they don’t know us, their default position is one of caution and doubt. We have all grown up being rewarded for being risk averse and so we are resistant to change. The new salesperson represents "change" – asking the client to buy something new or to change suppliers. We need to breakthrough that mental protective wall erected by the client and establish trust and credibility, so we can properly serve them.
Great – but how do we do that? Try crafting a Credibility Statement. This is a succinct summary that will grab the attention of the client and help to reduce their resistance to what we are offering.
It unfolds in four stages:
First we give an overview of the general benefits of what we do. For example, "Dale Carnegie Training helps to deliver the behavior change needed in the team to produce improved outcomes". Next we need to quote some specific results, as evidence that we are a credible supplier of services. So we now might say something like this, "An example of this was where we helped a very high end retailer with training their entire sales staff and they are enjoying a 30% increase in sales". Third, we introduce an important suggestion that makes this benefit and result summary relevant to the listener. "Maybe we could do the same for you?"
Finally, we need to create a "verbal bridge" so we can move on to questioning the client about what they need. In Japan, a lot of buyers expect to control proceedings, such that the seller turns up, gives their pitch and then the buyer shoots it full of holes. What buyers are doing is trying to ascertain the risk factor of what you are proposing, by disparaging everything you have just said. They now want you to provide answers that eliminate their fears. You are immediately on the back foot. The client, not you, is controlling the sales process. Good luck with that!
To break this pattern (which has a very low success rate), we need to ask pertinent questions and find out what they really need. In order to do that, we need to get their permission to ask questions. This transition into the questioning part of the sales process is absolutely critical. At this point we softly mention, "In order to help me understand if we can do that or not, would you mind if I asked a few questions?".
When they agree, we are now free to explore in detail their current situation, what they aspire to, what is holding them back and what would success mean to them personally. If you don’t ask these questions you have little chance of convincing the client you can help them solve their problems. Amazingly, the majority of sales people don’t ask any questions, but just blab on about the features of their product. We have to do a lot better than that!
So putting it all together, the sequence flow would be like this: "Dale Carnegie Training helps to deliver the behavior change needed in the team to produce improved outcomes. An example of this was where we helped a very high-end retailer with training their entire sales staff and they are enjoying a 30% increase in sales. Maybe we could do the same for you. In order to help me understand if we can do that or not, would you mind if I asked a few questions?".
This Credibility Statement should be short (under 30 seconds), delivered fluently and confidently (no Ums and Ahs). This takes a lot of preparation and practice because it is so short. Every word is vital in the design stage and we must deliver it perfectly. It can also be multi-purposed as an ideal "elevator pitch" for those occasions when we have to briefly explain what we do. This might be face-to-face or over the phone. If it is the latter case, then we would drop the question permission part and instead ask, "Are you available next Tuesday or is Thursday better?". Unless your product is specifically suited to being sold in that way, don’t sell solutions over the phone. Instead, secure a day and a time to meet. That is all we should be aiming for – the appointment.
The driving objective of sales is to solve client’s problems. We need to establish the client relationship based on a professional, competent first impression. The Credibility Statement does just that and opens the door to permission to find the issues, offer solutions and serve as a trusted business partner. Apply these ideas and join the top 1% of professionals in sales.