For many years, sales techniques have been a matter of heavy focus—by sales management, sales trainers, sales book authors, and of course salespeople themselves. Endless techniques are evolved, refined, taught, adapted or rejected, and endlessly argued.
But if there is one particular factor underlying all sales techniques that nobody could argue against, what might that be? It’s the question of trust.
The Tarnished Salesperson
As far back as the 1800s, the image of salespeople was a bit tarnished. They were considered shysters trying to pull things over on people, sell them things they didn’t want—or even in some cases blatantly trying to rip people off.
This image came about thanks to a relatively few unscrupulous salespeople who were actually criminals out to play a con game. The general public came to have a kind of innate and automatic suspicion of anybody selling anything.
When you boil it down, though, it was simply a matter of trust. Hence honest salespeople, when launching into a pitch, knew that the people they were trying to sell to were suspicious—and would work to change this by winning the trust of those to whom they were pitching. They would demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the product they were selling was a decent product, and would substantially benefit the buyer in some way.
Trust in Today’s B2B Sales
Today this matter of trust has come to mean much more as part of the sales techniques of a B2B sales rep. For not only is trust something you are going for in establishing a custumer relationship with a potential client—it is actually the goal of that relationship.
What does that mean? Let’s start at the beginning, before a buyer engages or is engaged by a salesperson. Much of the time in a B2B scenario, the product or service being sought is somewhat complex—such as a database software solution or a piece of factory equipment. Different manufacturers, distributors or solution providers are going to have different pitches for their products, stressing their particular strengths, market positions and so on. The buyer is going to be somewhat overwhelmed with information, even in just researching it online.
In establishing trust, a salesperson can be like a calm voice in that complex storm. Right at the beginning, approaching a prospect with calm, firm honesty—rather than a brash and assertive pitch—is arguably amongst the best sales techniques and will mean a lot.
In fact, the first move in establishing trust isn’t a sales pitch at all; it’s listening. It is hearing, knowing and understanding that buyer, that buyer’s company, and all the issues you are seeking to solve by selling them a product or service. You should ask questions designed to obtain all the information you need to achieve that understanding.
At the same time, a buyer will be asking you questions. If you are going to engender trust, you must be able to answer them precisely and well. As the buyer learns that you are an expert on the product or service and an expert on the industry, that trust is going to build—and you will demonstrate your trustworthiness by the truthfulness and factualness of your answers.
Part of answering questions also means knowing how much of an answer to give—for especially with a complex product or service, there is such a thing as too much information.
Apply Insight to your Sales Techniques
After you have listened to the buyer (and done independent research on the buyer’s company as well), you must apply insight. That means matching up the product or service to the particular issues the buyer has presented.
If your product actually does solve the buyer’s problems, at this point you are a short step from a closed sale if not already there. Of course there will likely be others in the buyer’s company that also need to be closed—but if you apply the above rough guidelines to each person you encounter, it should go smoothly. Add to that the fact the buyer is already closed, so if that buyer has enough pull with other company stakeholders, you’re practically home free.
In establishing trust all the way along the sales cycle, you’re going to have to have accurate, reliable and continually updated information about prospects that can be easily accessed whenever needed. You’re also going to need to be able to save critical data in such a way that it can be readily retrieved down the road—by you or another salesperson. Such information storage and retrieval can only happen through the use of a leading-edge CRM solution.
Underlying all possible sales techniques is the issue of trust. Build it carefully and strongly—and win every time.
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