I’ve got your back! That makes for great relationships.
And the sooner you can establish the I-got-your-back kind of trust with prospects, the more likely you’ll close the deal.
So how can you prove to prospects you truly have their back when all other providers claim the same?
You don’t build trust like this
“Every prospect is making a decision early in your sales process, and it’s not, ‘Am I going to trust this person?'” says Lisa Earle McLeod, author, Selling with Noble Purpose, founder, McLeod and More. “It’s more like they’re deciding if they think this person has their best interest in mind.
“Yet, most salespeople try to build trust from a self-perspective,” McLeod says. “But by making prospects feel like you’ve got their back, you put the focus on the prospects – exactly where it belongs.”
Here are 16 ways to do that:
1. Be a teacher, not a preacher
The last thing prospects want to be part of is a litany on how great you, your company and products are. Education builds trust better.
Share information that helps customers identify their challenges, understand their opportunities and open their minds to possibilities. A good buyer enablement plan makes the right information easily accessible at the right time.
2. Be more than a Band-Aid salesperson
It’s easy to sell a Band-Aid. It’s more important to sell the necessary surgery. Prospects often think they need a small fix (that’s ultimately temporary) – a solution that’s easy and fast to sell.
But trust is better built by helping them see what they need – perhaps several solutions to challenges they haven’t considered or can’t foresee.
3. Be a good read
“Prospects are reading you. They aren’t as interested in how you read them,” McLeod says. “They want to ‘read’ that you’ve done your homework.”
Prove it by researching their roles, challenges and current situations, then asking more in-depth questions about each to understand them before you delve into you and your solution too much.
4. Show it. Don’t say it
Trust is built on actions more than words. McLeod suggests avoid saying things that are little more than hot air, such as, “I really want to help you” or “I think our products would benefit you.”
Instead, show you have prospects’ backs by coupling your research and follow-up questions with statements such as, “A lot of people in your role are really challenged by (an issue they’ve mentioned or you discovered). We’ve helped companies like yours beat (their challenge) by (examples of how you’ve helped and results).”
5. Try the GWC Model
To show interested prospects you have their back going forward, Marissa Levin, F
That’s possible by listening closely to understand their pain then relaying personal experience in helping others overcome a similar pain to show you Get it. Prove you Want it by explaining exactly how you can be part of the transformation – moving them from their current situation to the desired situation. Finally, prove the Capacity to do it by being intellectually and emotionally prepared every time you have contact with prospects.
6. Customize your approach
Leads, like communism, look good on paper. So if you treat everyone the same – like communism does – they’ll flourish, right? Probably not. Leads (and communists) actually don’t flourish when treated equally.
Prospects need some customized nurturing to build trust. So instead of sending every lead who signs up for your e-newsletter a specific white paper or directing all prospects who engage on social media to a survey, consider more factors before choosing the content you connect them with. With progressive profiling, you can ask different, specific questions each time prospects engage with you so you can give quality, customized answers and content each step.
Giving them valuable content that’s just right shows you have their interests at heart.
7. Make every interaction count
Only reach out to prospects when you have information that is helpful to their current situation. Not to “just check in,” with “something you thought they’d like,” or because you were “thinking of them when you saw X.”
Read and investigate everything relevant in your industry so you ideally know more about it all than your prospects. Then prove you have their backs when you share information, ideas and insights – and most importantly, details on how it affects them. That’s value.
8. Be the pillar of truth
Your ideas, product or service isn’t perfect in every way for everyone. It may hurt when you start to realize that, and a less-that-trustworthy salesperson might push forward in those circumstances.
Instead, be truthful about shortcomings and how they might affect prospects’ expectations. Being candid and having a deeper conversation might help you and prospects realize the solution actually is right – or it might help you both realize it’s the wrong time for this solution, but you’ve proven you have their backs for opportunities in the future.
“Developing trust is essential,” says Jill Konrath, author of More Sales, Less Time. “Without it, you don’t have a chance to get the business. With it, you’ll have an opportunity to grow long-standing, highly profitable relationships. It’s worth the effort.”
9. Connect results to emotions
Case studies and client testimonials build credibility. But they can also create a disconnect. Prospects might not see how they’re like the company you highlight or can’t imagine themselves capable of the results that were achieved.
But something they can connect with is how you made the businesses and people in the stories feel. Talk about the celebrations people had when they achieved the results, the congratulations that came from CEO when she saw the numbers increase or the relief from employees when they experienced the new-found efficiency. That’s what prospects want to feel, too.
10. Be relevant
It’s one thing to be an expert in your field (as you surely are). It’s another to be an expert in your prospects’ world. Simply put: You don’t need to know everything, but you need to know everything that’s relevant to the prospect you’re working with.
Read news, press releases and earnings reports to get insight on where prospects stand. But get a feel for what part of that information is pertinent to the person or people in front of you before you unnecessarily try to tackle it all. Same goes for rapport-building banter: Understand what interests prospects. You don’t need to talk about sports when they’re passionate about the arts. Or you don’t need to tell a joke when they’re all-business.
11. Dig differently
Salespeople know it’s imperative to research prospects before contacting them. But Gabe Larsen, VP of Growth at InsideSales.com suggests in a podcast that you research differently than the norm (which is usually a company website and social media search).
Instead, Larsen suggests:
- Check your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. You may already have enough information on hand to start a relevant conversation and begin to build a relationship.
- Check social media – especially professional platforms such as LinkedIn. You might find detailed company reports and statements that make a good stepping stone to good rapport.
- Check your apps. If you have intelligence apps for your industry, scan them for more key details that suffice to start building the relationship.
- Check the website. As a last, perhaps skip-it step, look at leads’ websites. But recognize that they won’t give you much of an advantage in showing prospects that you have their backs over other sellers, considering most salespeople start and stop research at websites.
12. Reveal selectively
Armed with the best, most relevant information, salespeople want to be selective about revealing how much they know while building trust with new leads. Telling prospects too much about them can become creepy.
Instead of saying, “I understand you …” or “I know you …” to reveal a key detail you’ve already uncovered, ask leads about the possibility of those things. Say, “I wonder what you think about …” or “How concerned about/interested in/compelled by …?”
Showing interest in their thoughts creates camaraderie.
13. Build the bandwagon
Prospects will believe you have their backs when they see you consistently have the backs of long-time customers.
You don’t have to brag about what you’ve done for customers (all those late-night deliveries, early morning calls, 11th-hour saves, etc.) Ask loyal customers to do it for you, and lead prospects to the evidence. Get clients to write a few sentences about an above-and-beyond effort from you and share it on your LinkedIn profile page.
14. Respect time
More time spent interacting with prospects doesn’t translate into more sales closed.
On the contrary, you can show customers you respect them and have their backs by showing respect for their time. Show up or call on time. Set an agreeable amount of time to talk, present or meet and stick to it. Follow up in the time frame you promised. Waste no time by being unprepared. Ask for permission to use more time if it’s necessary – and stop if they hedge on the answer or deny permission.
15. Be consistent
Credibility is the backbone of a strong buyer-supplier relationship. While some salespeople believe the best way to build credibility is through promoting their track record and listing big-name clients, it’s usually not.
Credibility is built strongest by consistently doing what you say you will. If you promise a five-minute conversation, set a timer and stop yourself at five minutes. If you say you’ll find the answer, deliver it (or at least the information you’ve found thus far) when you said you would. If you present a price, stick to it.
16. Follow through … always
The easiest way to show prospects you don’t have their backs is to drop the ball, let something fall through the cracks or simply not follow through on promises.
Every time you engage, you want to clearly outline the next steps you will take, how long your work will take and what they can expect the next time you interact. Then set up alerts, notices and reminders to make sure you do exactly what you said you’d do.