In Selling, Trust Trumps Everything

canstockphoto2584233Does this scenario sound familiar?  You are deep into a selling conversation and decide to attempt a “trail close” or other closing technique you have been taught.  Suddenly, the prospect unloads a whole series of objections.  Her body language changes, too.  She sits back in her chair and crosses her arms.  The room becomes more tense as you try to “right the ship.”

What you perceive as objections could be serious roadblocks.  Or they could actually be buying signals: an indication that she is trying to clarify how your product will solve her needs before making a purchasing decision.  In the scenario above, her body language makes it clear that her objections are serious roadblocks.

So what happened?  I believe that the culprit here is almost always a lack of trust.  For any sale of anything to occur, a threshold of trust must be achieved.  The trust bar is pretty low to buy a pack of gum, but you must trust the brand.  The bar is much higher to hire a financial advisor.

How do you establish trust?  First, I suggest you search for common bonds.  Pretty basic stuff.  Do you both root for the same team?  Enjoy fishing?  Attend the same church?  Have kids of similar ages?  The list is endless.  Human beings are psychologically tribal.  By identifying a few common bonds, you are discovering that you belong to some of the same tribes.

Is this first step a form of manipulation?  I do not believe so.  It’s how people get to know each other and decide to like and trust each other.

Next, Ask, Ask, Ask.  Get to know the prospect, and let her get to know you.  Learn about her pain points, her personal and professional goals, her passions in life, etc.  Also share a bit about yourself, by the way; this shouldn’t be a one-way interrogation!

I suggest that you develop a formal library of profiling questions.  I have a two page library, laminated, that I carry with me most of the time.

How important is this Trust stuff?  I would argue it is the single-most critical step in selling.  The better you get at building trust, the less you’ll have to know about “closing” because the prospect will trust that your recommendation is in her best interest.

“Wait a minute!” you may be thinking.  “This isn’t true for transactional sales.  If I’m selling shoes I don’t need to do this.”  Wrong.  Often, a level of trust has been established because the buyer knows and trusts the shoe brand.  Great!  But you will always be a better shoe salesperson if you ask a few quick questions.  “How will you be using these shoes?  In what part of your foot do shoes start to hurt late in the day?  What kinds of outfits will you be wearing these shoes with?”  By doing this the buyer will understand that you are trying to customize your shoe recommendations to her specific needs.  And her trust in you will increase.  You’ll sell more shoes.

Go sell some shoes!

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