Forget selling. Focus on trust
Ever bought something from someone you don’t trust?
If so, ever done it a second or third time? It is highly unlikely that you have. As humans we tend not to like dealing with people we don’t trust.
There is a lot of noise in the market discussing buzz terms like solution-selling, strategic-selling and more recently social-selling. It can be confusing to get a good grip on where best to start with selling your product or service.
The main advice I would give anyone looking to launch a new business, product or service, or grow an existing one, is to understand that what will set you apart in the market is the establishment of trust.
Trust is the foundation of all relationships. Good relationships lead to a more stable business with a better pipeline of sales. It sounds simple, but in some ways it is hard to define what trust actually is.
A good way to look at it is to use David Maister’s Trust equation (from his book The Trusted Advisor):
To be able to use this in your selling efforts, I have outlined what is in each of the components below, and have given some short, practical advice on how it can inform your relationship-building efforts.
Do you know what you’re talking about?
In some ways it’s about the basics, but you need to know your product or service well and understand the market you operate in. It comes across well if you do. Knowing this will inform your conversations and will make you interesting.
Be mindful that this isn’t a boast list of the features or a 10-minute pitch on what you do. It is more likely knowledge of the market or sector you operate in, or some compelling success stories from your clients.
Do you do what you say you are going to do?
If you have an offer for your product, keep it simple and deliver on it. Be early or at least on time for meetings, it creates the right impression and shows that you are someone that can be relied upon.
If you ship or install products, get them delivered to your customer before the deadline. It’s simple but it leaves a massive impression and will likely make them an advocate for you. The most powerful sales tool available is advocates.
Do you genuinely care about the person you are dealing with?
Your product or service is only valuable to the other person if it offers something that will help them to succeed. It’s also not just about your offering, but more about how you share insights or connections with other people, to genuinely help them in what they are trying to do.
Do you only speak to a client when there is something in it for yourself?
If your meetings are called “sales meetings” the danger is you are doing this. One of the reasons some people don’t like talking to sales people is they feel they are only interested in them when there’s a chance of a sale.
No-one likes to be viewed as a walking “$” sign.
Every time we act purely in our own interests, we erode trust. If you can approach every interaction with your clients or prospects with the aim of trying to provide value, by helping them and leaving your interest back at your office, then you are a long way down the road to establishing trust.
In understanding these four components you can start to think about the way you interact in your chosen field. Make sure that your meetings or marketing communications have a clear purpose that adds value to the person you’re meeting with.
Everyone you interact with should be prepared to sell your company or product on your behalf. If they trust you, they will do this.