Trust has always been central to the customer-sales person relationship but, as technology and access to information has advanced, so the opportunities for a sales person to get in front of their customer and build that trust, have lessened. In today’s world, where more and more sales meetings are taking place online rather than face to face, sales people must work even harder to find ways of building customer trust.
Sales people should not despair, though; whilst their customers may have access to more information and choices than ever before, it is still the role of the sales person to create insights, communicate additional value, demonstrate competency and credibility and instil confidence.
5 Tips on How to Build Trust with your Customers
- Be someone they like – People buy from people they trust, but people are more likely to trust somebody that they like. But since everybody is different, how can you possibly get all of your customers to like you?
The most effective way of doing this is to apply Emotional Intelligence (EI) to your customer conversations. EI enables the sales person to quickly identify their customers preferences and priorities. This then informs the sales person how best to communicate and present information to their customers and enables them to more quickly pick up on concerns and non-verbal cues.Looking for areas of common interest/similarity is also extremely beneficial, whether it be that you both enjoy a similar leisure activity, have holidayed in the same place, or have children who are a similar age. Some of this work can be done upfront by looking at their social media profiles to see which companies and individuals they follow and which groups they are members of.
If you cannot find areas of crossover, don’t force or fake it, you’ll soon be found out. Instead you can focus on the shared interest you know for certain you both have: finding the best solution for their specific need. Other shared interests can be uncovered in the natural flow of conversation.
- Put your customer first – Your customer should feel that finding the absolute best solution for them is your number 1 priority, not that you’re just there to serve your own interest by selling them something. If you launch into a proposed solution before taking the time to fully uncover their needs (a common trap that sales people fall into), you won’t ever deliver the best solution. The way to achieve this is to ask great questions.
Questions allow you to delve deeper, uncover additional concerns and needs and, therefore, identify additional opportunities that will bring even greater value to your customer. Critically, these questions also allow you to gain clarification and ensure that you have fully understood their needs whilst simultaneously demonstrating genuine interest in their business and challenges.
- Demonstrate credibility – Credibility is established by demonstrating knowledge and accountability. Credibility should continue to strengthen as the relationship grows and you repeatedly demonstrate to your customer that you do what you have said you will do and that, even when you don’t know the answer to their questions, you know how to find out and get back to them promptly. But you don’t have to wait until you’re ‘in conversation’ with your prospects and customers to start building credibility.
Social selling enables you to build credibility before even speaking to someone.By using social platforms (primarily Linkedin) to regularly share relevant and insightful information to your prospects and customers, you demonstrate knowledge, enthusiasm and credibility. This not only fast tracks the building of customer trust through the sales process but, importantly, keeps you front of mind and therefore makes you more likely to be approached by a customer or prospect in the first place.
- Do your research – A customer is less likely to place trust in a sales person who turns up to a meeting without the required level of knowledge and understanding of them, their business and their challenges – it displays a lack of interest, poor attention to detail and frankly, suggests laziness and/or incompetence.
The sales person who has done their research is far better positioned to identify areas where additional value could be gained for the customer and demonstrating additional value will only serve to reinforce confidence and trust and increase your chances of winning the deal.
- Add Value – I’ve mentioned value several times in these tips but it needs its own spotlight because it is, without doubt, the most important way to build trust with your customers.
Your customer may not actually particularly like you, or may even believe you are putting your own agenda ahead of theirs but, if you have communicated a solution that clearly delivers the greatest value, you may still yet win the deal. Consider this from another angle: if you successfully achieved the first of these 4 tips but then failed to add and communicate value, how likely do you think it that your customer would opt for your solution over your competitors?
Of course, I’d never recommended that you focus on value alone, customer trust is best established by observing all of the points I’ve outlined here, with each one serving to reinforce the others but do remember to keep value at the forefront of your proposition.