The best salespeople know that positioning themselves as trusted advisors is key to sales success. During consulting engagements when I am reviewing sales calls, I find that originators will often dominate the conversation with talk about themselves and their products and services. The problem with this approach is that it does nothing to build trust with clients or convey that the salesperson is operating with the prospect’s best interests in mind.
Why does this happen and what are the keys to cultivating trust with buyers?
A Scientific American article “The Neuroscience of Everybody’s Favorite Topic,” noted that “on average, people spend 60 percent of conversations talking about themselves. This figure jumps to 80 percent when communicating via social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook.”
According to the article, talking about ourselves ties into the brain’s reward center that also responds to other activities that make us feel good. The problem is that a salesperson’s success is anchored in listening to others, getting into the shoes of the customer and forming a relationship with strangers.
In the past, originators who were self-focused but had a unique product or service could be successful; but today products and services are rarely that different from each other. Originators who fail to position themselves as trusted advisors will lose referral business in today’s more competitive marketplace.
Truly listening to a prospect or customer paves the way for an emotional connection to take place — a necessary prerequisite for building trust. In addition to developing good listening skills, sales professionals who want to become trusted advisors must also be able to:
• Add value
Value is defined as when a customer has received a gain larger than the cost of creating the gain. Whether the customer is a real estate agent or a consumer, value is what drives both to refer a salesperson to others in their inner circle. At its core, value is about exceeding expectations.
• Communicate in the customer’s language
Each person has a unique communication or learning style. While I have written before on this topic, the point is that great originators are able to communicate in a way that matches to to the learning style of their customers. When top producers switch from their style to another, the benefit is that the customer feels a bond that will separate the salesperson from others. This is a great benefit because the relationship is established faster, more clearly and with greater impact.
• Provide a point of view
The salesperson’s ability to convey what is best for the customer is at the heart of providing a point of view. A point of view is reflective of a person’s experience and knowledge. Letting customers know that you are genuinely acting with their best interest in mind creates a powerful bond.
To achieve trusted advisor status, originators must develop and enhance their selling skills to be able to have these conversations with customers and prospects. Sounding genuine, providing a big picture view and understanding your company’s real differentiator are just a few of the topics that should be refreshed with targeted sales training.
The bottomline is while consumers may be looking at your products or services, they still want a trusted relationship with their sales person. Are you delivering it?