The following are excerpts from Tom Morin’s new book called No Trust, No Sale:
So many customers have such a negative perception of salespeople, it makes you wonder if any of them would know a great one if they saw one. Although I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had a bad experience with a salesperson at least once, I have to question why so many customers put ALL salespeople in the same negative box.
As both a customer and a sales coach, I view the approach salespeople need to take as similar to a physician, who gathers and assesses symptoms and problems and then makes a diagnosis as to how to solve that issue for the patient (or customer). Even though both patients and customers really do need help and assistance to solve their problems, many withhold important information that is absolutely necessary to make the correct decisions to actually help them. Why?
Salespeople can and must take (often overlooked) steps to develop the trust necessary to get all the information they need to actually help the customer. They need to conduct themselves in a relaxed, friendly, cordial way that relieves tension and anxiety, leading to the comfort level and confidence the customer must have to pass along honest facts and information. For the doctor, this would be called “bedside manner.”
Many good salespeople bear the brunt of unfair misconceptions caused by the salesperson at the company down the road who violated the customers overall trust for the next one. Each time a new customer walks in, salespeople must approach them with the real possibility that this may exist and win the customer before they think about winning the sale. Set product and sales procedures aside and be a real person first. This must take place, even if the customer acts like they’re in a hurry, which most of the time is a diversion tactic anyway.
The number one step most salespeople miss is to rush this trust-building step within the first few minutes of a customer walking in the front door. Why? Because most customers will decide in 7-10 seconds if they like you or not. The sale is typically blown at that moment and most salespeople don’t know it. All the work that comes after it, where two, three or four hours are spent with the customer that doesn’t result in a sale, will become a waste of everyone’s time.
As a follow up, there are other critical steps that must be taken to reinforce a salesperson’s mission to achieve customer comfort, rapport and trust with customers:
Sales procedures, product knowledge, company advertising, etc. all need to be second to what the customer wants and needs.
Honesty and Integrity
This is a decision every salesperson needs to make, as this is one of the main reasons why customers give salespeople low marks. This step is not negotiable, even if it’s at the expense of a sale.
Be a Questioning Machine
Many salespeople fall short in knowing exactly what a customer wants and why they want it. There is no way a salesperson can match the product or service with how this solves a customer’s needs if you don’t find out what that is.
Be an Active Listener
Most companies have taught the salesperson to remember many things, so it’s easy for them to be concentrating on what they need to say next, rather than actively listening to what their customer is saying. Prove you’re listening with comments or gestures that let the customer know you’re engaged with what they’re saying
Read Body Language
Some customers won’t tell you everything they want and why, so reading non-verbal body language cues can signal discomfort or information being held back. This will indicate more follow up questions may be necessary to get all the information you need.
Be Friendly, but Assertive
You must be friendly, but not be afraid to probe for more information or honesty. My boss used to call me “a dove with steel talons” and that is the mode you need to be in to get everything you need to move to step two.
There’s no substitute for this. You must know your product. Period.
Superior Follow Through
Very simply, you must do what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it 100% of the time. One time of not doing so can blow the sale, because customers are looking for that.
Some customers simply don’t like salespeople, but there is little you can do about that. However, consistently committing to the items above will dramatically up your odds not only for getting the sale, but also for customer referrals than will follow.