The Importance of Trust in Sales

Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust (Zig Ziglar).

Of all the components to the sales process, “trust” is the one least understood. Many sales training courses will talk about creating desire and urgency, how to overcome price objections and how to emphasize benefits to develop the need — but not every teacher or sales method talks about trust.

In ‘The Inevitable Sale’ process I teach, trust is at the core. It is a ‘trust-based system.’

As Zig Ziglar said, ‘no trust’ is one of the basic obstacles in the sales process. I agree. You can address all of the other four obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire… but it is still difficult to successfully advance the sale without gaining your prospective client’s trust.

And learning how to address the first four obstacles without first building trust OFTEN leads to what many consider an ‘adversarial approach’ to sales (wherein the potential customer or client is the ‘target’ whose resistance to buying must be overcome in a ‘push to close’ manipulation).

The Inevitable Sale approaches the sales process as a transaction between seller and buyer that is low pressure, low stress, and beneficial to both parties.

It is designed to make the single most important function in any for-profit business (sales) an enjoyable endeavor that produces long-lasting customers who know the seller is genuinely concerned for them and their business success.

In The Inevitable Sale process, trust is at the core. It is a trust-based system.Click To Tweet

What is trust?

A dictionary definition of trust will tell you something like this: “Trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”

You exercise trust every day and in 1,000 ways. You couldn’t leave the house or drive a car without it. The absence of trust is “doubt” and enough doubt leads to fear and paranoia.

Do your customers or clients trust you? Do they believe you are reliable, that you have the ability to make good on your promises to them? If they don’t, they are wide open (and may even be seeking) an alternative to your product or services.

Moreover, it is important to remember that salespeople don’t normally begin on flat ground. Because the selling profession consistently ranks low in the public trust (Gallup’s last survey put sales at 8% — just one percent above members of Congress), the sales process most often begins with the prospect instinctively doubting the salesperson.

How does it feel to be doubted?

That’s why sales is often viewed as a distasteful and anxiety-ridden process. Many people would rather take a beating than try to ‘sell something.’ Even within the ranks of the sales force, companies seek ways to differentiate the team – maybe calling their salespeople ‘account executives’ or ‘product advocates’ – anything is better than being ‘in sales.’

Or is it?

Once trust is established, both seller and prospect can relax and work on making sure the product or service fits the need. Working out the terms of the sale ends up being just a byline in the process.

Many people would rather take a beating than try to sell something.’Click To Tweet

A better approach to sales

You can fall in love with sales again. You can begin to enjoy bringing in new business and watching your company’s bottom line grow.

The late, great Zig Ziglar loved to read the following note to his audiences. Zig knew the first job of management is to sell the salesperson and the first sale a salesperson must make is to himself.

If you’ve been struggling with sales then this is for you.

There’s nothing at all wrong with sales. Our economy depends on sales, and your business depends on sales.The problem lies within us – and the good news is that we can do something about it. Let’s talk about that next time.

I Am a Salesman

I am proud to be a salesman, because more than any other man, I and millions of others like me, built America.

The man who builds a better mouse trap — or a better anything — would starve to death if he waited for people to beat a pathway to his door. Regardless of how good or how needed the product or service might be, it has to be sold.

Eli Whitney was laughed at when he showed his cotton gin. Edison had to install his electric light free of charge in an office building before anyone would even look at it. The first sewing machine was smashed to pieces by a Boston mob. People scoffed at the idea of railroads. They thought that traveling even thirty miles an hour would stop the circulation of the blood! McCormick strived for 14 years to get people to use his reaper. Westinghouse was considered a fool for stating he could stop a train with wind. Morse had to plead before 10 Congresses before they would even look at his telegraph.

The public didn’t go around demanding these things; they had to be sold!!

They needed thousands of salesmen, trailblazers and pioneers – people who could persuade with the same effectiveness as the inventor could invent. Salesmen took these inventions, sold the public on what these products could do, taught customers how to use them, and then taught businessmen how to make a profit from them.

As a salesman, I’ve done more to make America what it is today than any other person you know. I was just as vital in your great-great-grandfather’s day as I am in yours, and I will be just as vital in your great-great-grandson’s day. I have educated more people, created more jobs, taken more drudgery from the laborer’s work, given more profits to businessmen, and have given more people a fuller and richer life than anyone in history. I’ve dragged prices down, pushed quality up, and made it possible for you to enjoy the comforts and luxuries of automobiles, radios, electric refrigerators, televisions, and air conditioned homes and buildings. I’ve healed the sick, given security to the aged, and put thousands of young men and women through college. I’ve made it possible for inventors to invent, for factories to hum, and for ships to sail the seven seas.

How much money you find in your pay envelope next week, and whether in the future you will enjoy the luxuries of prefabricated homes, stratospheric flying of airplanes, and new world of jet propulsion and atomic power, depends on me. The loaf of bread you bought today was on a baker’s shelf because I made sure that a farmer’s wheat got to a mill, that the mill made wheat into flour, and that the flour was delivered to your baker.

Without me, the wheels of industry would come to a grinding halt. And with that, jobs, marriages, politics and freedom of thought would be a thing of the past. I AM A SALESMAN and I’m proud and grateful that as such, I serve my family, my fellow man and my country.

~Author Unknown

How Joe the Sales Pro Wins TOUGH SALES (and you can too)

Let’s take two people: Joe and Barb.

Joe sells dental products for a major dental supply house. Barb is the buyer for a dental group with offices in a three-state region.

Joe is an optimist. He is an idea guy. He sees the big, beautiful picture.

Barb is cautious. On her twice-annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for industry conventions, she will invest no more than $20 per day (all in nickels) with the ‘one-armed bandits.’

You’ll find Joe at the roulette table with chips piled in front of him.

What happens when Joe calls on Barb to introduce a new product – a tooth polish twice as expensive as most, but made from all organic components?

Will Barb take a chance on ‘excellent opportunity to be first in the region to get on board’? Or will she play it safe and avoid investing in an unproven product?

Care to vote on the outcome?

Yep. Joe lost – right?

How Joe the Sales Pro Overcomes Bias Opposition.Click To Tweet

But what if Joe is a salesperson armed with a knowledge of cognitive bias?

Barb’s thinking is characterized by ‘loss aversion bias.’ She is hyper-focused on avoiding loss. She is a shrewd buyer for her company and exacts the most for the least from every sales transaction.

Joe knows this. He has seen her ‘gamble’ in Vegas, and he has sat across the desk from her often in his regular visits to her office.

And Joe gets more of Barb’s business than any other salesperson in the region.Continue reading

What You and I Don’t Know [WYSIATI]

You don’t know everything. And neither do I.

That is why scientists are so careful to term their interpretations “theories,” not “truths.”

The mind will take whatever information it has about a situation and make a story out of it. Sometimes the story has merit, and sometimes it does not.

When new data becomes available, cognitive biases (anchoring bias, for instance) can make it difficult to let go of that old story and form a new one.

That makes it tough to grow – and that is why high school reunions can be so very stressful.

The mind will take whatever information it has about a situation and make a story out of it.Click To Tweet

Even though we KNOW change is a part of life – we resist it

People change.

  • Larry is no longer the ‘awkward, tongue-tied fella who can’t get a girlfriend.’ He’s a surgeon with a beautiful wife.
  • Everyone was sure that, if anyone would, Sheila would end up as the first woman U.S. president. She’s married to a guy with a drug problem, has five children, and feels disheveled and defeated most days.

We WANT people and situations to stay true to the story we created for them.

We HATE it when one of our favorite brands moves operations overseas and begins turning out substandard products, but we keep buying and hoping things will change.

What you see is all there is

Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman identified a cognitive bias based on the mind’s tendency to act as if ‘what you see is all there is’ (WYSIATI).

For example, says Kahneman, suppose I tell you about a woman who has just been elected president of a country. I say, “She is intelligent and strong.”

Then, I ask you: “Do you think she is a good leader?”

You have a quick answer, “Yes, of course. I am always thrilled to hear whenever a woman becomes head of state.”

But what if she is also corrupt?

You see, we often form opinions (stories) based on limited data. Then – after the story has solidified – we find it difficult to change – even when additional data would indicate change to be justified.

Never forget this principle of cognitive error: Stopping to think is always more difficult than leaning on the familiar biases that serve us so well most of the time.Continue reading

Cognitive Bias in Sales – The DECOY

IN EARLIER articles, I’ve written about how cognitive biases can influence the sales process – but we’ve barely begun looking at the TYPES of cognitive biases anyone in sales (or in business) may confront every single day.

Whether you are a solopreneur, a small business owner, a service professional, or part of an executive leadership team – we are talking about something that can have a HUGE IMPACT on the sales process.

It could even be said that understanding this kind of information is what sets the 20% of upper level performers (those who make 80% of the sales) apart from (and out in front of) the rest of the pack.

NOW, here’s the thing: sometimes you hear it said that someone is a ‘natural salesperson”. What is probably more accurate is that the person who seems to be a ‘natural’ really just seems to instinctively understand the processes at work when cognitive bias affects sales.

Really good news: Even if you aren’t a natural at sales – you can learn!Click To Tweet

Why YOU need to know about cognitive bias

You may have a FEAR of sales. You may dislike … dare I say, even HATE sales … but that doesn’t change the fact, one iota, that you are selling SOMETHING every day.

I encourage the people I counsel to EMBRACE the SALES PROCESS. After all, nothing can help you reach your business goals quicker than boosting sales.

Nothing.

So let’s go talk about another manifestation of cognitive bias – and let’s continue that track for another few articles.

I BELIEVE: If you will commit to studying, learning, and putting into practice the things you learn here TODAY – your sales can’t HELP but increase.

(To brush up on the hows and whys of cognitive bias, READ THIS.)

Here we go…Continue reading

Cognitive Bias – How the Mind Helps and Hinders Sales

The most merciful thing in the world… is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents (H.P. Lovecraft)

DO YOU EVER defend a purchase you’ve made – even though you may wonder whether or not it was truly a wise decision?

Have you ever considered that you may champion ideas and products you think are right for YOU, while not always acknowledging signals that those things may NOT be right for the prospect across the table from you?

Everyone exhibits what psychology calls “cognitive bias.” You, me, our prospects, customers, and clients – ALL of us are afflicted.

Here’s the big question: How might that influence the sales process?

Could a knowledge of cognitive bias help you make and KEEP more sales?Click To Tweet

Cognitive bias in a nutshell

You may not feel like it’s true all the time, but your brain is considerably more powerful than any computer. Your mind can think a whole lot faster than you can consciously keep up with.

Consequently, the brain makes many snap decisions all by itself.

For instance, do you think first impressions are important?  (It’s been said you only have 7 seconds to make a strong first impression on those you meet … or be summarily dismissed from consideration.)

Now, consider this: Do first impressions ever result in unwarranted bias?

Bingo!Continue reading

More Sales, Peace of Mind – Sales Psychology to the Rescue

The most destructive element in the human mind is fear. Fear creates aggressiveness (Dorothy Thompson).

Decision making is integral to the sales process. It could even be said that the primary job of the salesperson is to HELP the prospect make a decision.

Sales is about Leadership and helping others. You help them people move to action – in spite of their concerns, their challenges, their fears or their reluctance!

The ability to make decisions is essential to mastering sales. If YOU can’t make decisions when you need to – if you struggle to be decisive in your own life and business –it is very difficult for you to lead others in the decision-making process.

Sales is about Leadership and helping others. You help them people move to action – in spite of their concerns, their challenges, their fears or their reluctance!Click To Tweet

Sales psychology in Trust-Based Selling

Gosh, there is so much I have read and studied regarding sales psychology. From my own 40 years of sales experience, I agree with some of the claims – and disagree with others.

Anything contrary to relationships built on trust … I tend to disagree with!

To get started, let’s talk about a direction in research most attributed to psychologist Daniel Kahneman. He was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work concerning “human judgement and decision-making under uncertainty.”

First off, though, we should acknowledge an important concept: In Trust-Based Selling, the goal isn’t that you ‘make the sale.’ The goal is to discover the TRUTH about your potential client’s situation and whether you can help the client solve a problem or achieve a goal.

After the process of discovery, the next step is to help the prospect make the decision best in his or her own favor – and that is not always a decision for your product or service!

Ethical (and wise) salespeople don’t study decision-making in order to manipulate others, but to best serve them.Click To Tweet

One brain is plenty … but we have two!

Kahneman’s observations spring from a dichotomy in the way we think. These ‘two brains’ are readily observable in daily life.Continue reading

If You Don’t Know These, You Should!

You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of (Jim Rohn).

The Importance of Knowing Your Numbers

When Dave Alwan, owner of Echo Valley Meats, made his first appearance on ABC’s Shark Tank, he didn’t have a business plan.

The Sharks agreed his butcher-shop quality meats were excellent, but they weren’t willing to invest in a guy who couldn’t tell them what it cost to acquire a customer: especially since he was seeking funds to market his products online.

Alwan went home to Peoria, did his homework and came back to take the Sharks on again (Episode 421) … but this time with a firm grip on “his numbers.”

Now, he not only knew the cost of acquiring a customer, but the cost of retaining that customer – and the Sharks were rightfully impressed. This time the butcher-turned-entrepreneur left the show with Dallas Maverick’s owner, Mark Cuban, as a business partner.

So, let me ask you …

Do you know your numbers?Click To Tweet

If you were standing, right now, in front of the Sharks, shooting for a chance to financially and strategically partner with someone with a known track record of growing successful businesses – a relationship that could potentially take YOUR business straight to the top – would YOU know your numbers?

Would statistics like these be something you could quote with confidence?

  • Net profit margin
  • Customer acquisition cost
  • Average price per sale
  • Primary competitors and their pricing
  • Percentage of sales by product line or service

You see, it is one thing to ‘be in business’ – but quite another to have a plan – a strategy for success, supported by clear metrics to monitor your progress.

Reasons to know your numbers:

  • Knowing your numbers allows you to set goals based on a plan – not on a hope and a prayer – and enables you to set a reasonable budget.
  • Knowing your numbers enables you to pinpoint the areas where you are doing well and the areas where you aren’t doing so well.
  • Without the numbers, you may realize sales are down. With the numbers, you can tell WHY they are down – and that puts you in a whole lot better position to do something about the problem.
It is one thing to ‘be in business’ – but quite another to have a plan!Click To Tweet

A well-considered and purposely developed strategy is essential

The sales path is akin to embarking on a journey. In order to get from here to there, you must first know where you presently are … and where you want to go. Once you have ascertained those two things, you can map out a plan to get there.

That is true for your own business, and it is true in a sales conversation where your aim is to help others. It is only after you know their current situation and where they want to go that you can together ascertain whether your product or service could bridge the gap you and the prospect have identified.

A fundamental saying in business is “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Many times, businesses under-perform – not because the people or the products are substandard, but because they don’t know their numbers.

Without exception, with my private clients, we discuss the importance of numbers and the necessity of investing a little extra time to track them. Without real numbers, it’s difficult to track progress. Numbers help me help my clients. Improving your numbers is what gives your time freedom, as well as the ability to leverage and grow.

Which numbers should you track?

Individual businesses can vary on WHICH numbers are most relevant, but let’s take a look at some of the numbers typically important to sales:

  • Number of calls made
  • Number of appointments scheduled
  • Number of presentations (or sales conversations)
  • Number of proposals and quotes
  • The close rate for presentations and sales conversations
  • The close rate for proposals
  • Average price per sale

I love the wisdom of the late Jim Rohn. I remember him telling a story about his first sales manager reviewing Jim’s numbers: Jim started to make an excuse for his performance, but his mentor interrupted him, and in essence said, “The reason we make the box small, Jim, is to hold only the number. We don’t give you room to write excuses.”

Next week, let’s look at specific ways to track and utilize those all-important numbers.

Two Definitions Everyone in Business Should Know

IN MY WORK as a sales consultant and sales trainer, I am always probing for certain bits of information. I compare the responses I receive to what I would expect to hear and see in a healthy business.

I guess you could say I act like a physician who specializes in sales and marketing. I diagnose my patients, based on a series of questions – using hard data for my thermometer, stethoscope, and blood pressure monitor.

I guess you could say I am a physician who specializes in sales and marketing. I diagnose my patients, based on a series of questions – using hard data for my thermometer, stethoscope, and blood pressure monitor.Click To Tweet

Thinking about referrals

Here’s an example:

When I ask a new client or prospect where most of the new business is currently originating, larger and more established companies normally respond with an overview of (at least the makings of) a reasonable marketing plan.

Younger companies (and a surprising number of professional practices), however most often say, “Through referrals.”

My next question is “Do you mean referrals from those who have already worked with or purchased from you?”

But, the normal respond is, “Well … actually from family and friends who know about my business.”

Every time I get that reply, I no longer wonder why my that person is unhappy about low or no sales and why business is not growing as quickly as hoped.

Your family and friends are certainly of great value in your life, but expecting them to do your marketing for you is almost always a sure-loss proposition.

The two kinds of word-of-mouth-referrals

When you think about referrals, imagine them in two buckets. The first is FLAT referrals, and the second is ACTIVE referrals.

  • Flat Referrals: This is most prevalent in new businesses, smaller businesses, and solopreneur service professionals. Flat referrals are a form of marketing based on networking via existing relationships or one’s circle of friends.

The underlying issue is this: Sales are determined by the people you know and how relative they are to your business. As in the case with my friend who wants to sell her home, the person your friend knows may not be the referral you most need.

  • Active Referrals: This strategy is based on referrals solid enough to be excellent groundwork from which to build a testimonial.

A testimonial is social proof of the authenticity and capability of a particular person or business.

As you may already know, testimonials are a powerful way – when properly positioned – to eliminate the high-pressure feel of sales. Testimonials allow the relative ease of a trust-based approach to sales.

Referrals are testimonials directed to specific people.

When properly positioned, testimonials can eliminate the high-pressure feel of sales.Click To Tweet

You’ve heard it before – because it is VITAL

Testimonials are collected and disseminated from clients or customers who are well enough satisfied with your products and services to want to help spread the word about you within their networks, so others can experience the same solution(s) and/or benefits that your service or product afforded them.

Testimonials are the essence of word-of mouth marketing. To grow your business, you need a solid sales and marketing strategy that allows you to make sales outside of your own network.

You may have heard that REFERRAL MARKETING is, perhaps, the best form of marketing. That is why most people consider it to be their first-employed marketing tactic.

They assume that little personal effort to market themselves is required – since the good news about their products or services will spread by way of one friend or family member telling another.

Referrals that arise from existing relationships carry less credibility than those provided by customers and clients. Click To Tweet

That is an incorrect assumption

Referrals that do arise from existing relationships carry less credibility than those provided by customers and clients. The former are more about you as a person, while the latter are more directed at your ability to deliver products or services to help achieve a goal or solve particular problems.

Does that make sense?

When customers and clients buy from you, or work with you in a professional relationship, then enjoy a favorable experience as a result of using your products/services, the value of your brand increases.

This, friend, is why I am an avid believer in the value of a trust-based sales approach. The very essence of the sales approach I teach builds trust … and trust is fundamental to building relationships.

When you learn trust-based sales/communication skills AND combine them with value-driven products or service, your sales can soar … because people will indeed like you (and YOU will like YOU because you’re comfortable and confident in the sales process) AND they will love your brand (business).

When you learn trust-based sales and communication skills, your sales can soar.Click To Tweet

It is this positive experience with your products or services that satisfied customers talk about within their own networks, thereby leading those people to buy from you too.

They buy with an expectation in mind: to enjoy the same favorable experience enjoyed by the person who referred you.

Depend on your friends – but not for your marketing

Now, I am certainly not saying that referrals generated within your own close circles are not valuable. You never know where that next excellent lead will come from.

What I am saying, though, is “Don’t stop there.” Think about ways to gain testimonials and referrals from those who have experienced your services or products.

Those are golden.

This One Thing Can Make a Huge Difference in Sales

I will start anew/I will make amends/and I will make quite certain/that the story ends/on a note of hope/on a strong amen/and I’ll thank the world/and remember when/I was able to begin again!  (Ebenezer Scrooge)

Do you remember Ebenezer Scrooge?

Charles Dickens’ classic story, A Christmas Carol, has given people reason to stop and ponder the true meaning of Christmas for over a century and a half now. It was first published in 1843!

During the course of the tale, Scrooge was transformed from a greedy and grumpy old miser into a joyful and caring guardian who  began to appreciate others and help them in their struggles.

Scrooge can help you get more sales

Scrooge

George Scott as Scrooge. Creative Commons

When my focus is on me, me, me … when I approach sales conversations more concerned about what I can GET from the transaction than about what I might have to OFFER … I set the stage for mistrust, resistance , and failure.

On the other hand, when I stop worrying about me and begin thinking about YOU, I set a stage where real, lasting, healthy relationships can be formed and nurtured.

Discover the lesson taught by the three ghosts

Ebenezer Scrooge needed a series of eye-opening visits from the “Three Ghosts of Christmas” to get his attitude turned around.

He was given a personal tour of the Past, Present, and Yet to Come – and that journey shook him to the core.

Now, I don’t want to get overly-dramatic here … and I surely don’t want to stretch a point completely out of context to make a point … but I recently spoke with a client about how she can best ask for testimonials.

And THAT PROCESS relates quite well to Scrooge’s universally pertinent lesson.

Something that can help you get more business

I don’t know of anything of more value to your business than referrals and testimonials from those who have experienced the value of your product or services.

Too often, salespeople (or those who take appointments for professional services) beat the only drum they have … and it sounds like this: “Our company is the best” or “I can fix that problem like nobody else.”

When you brag about yourself, people are seldom all that impressed.

When others brag about you, though, potential clients and customers are considerably more apt to listen … and to believe.

I coached my client in a technique that re-frames the conversation. Asking for a testimonial shouldn’t come across as “Will you say something good about me?”

Rather, it should be a means of inviting your clients and customers to share their victories with others.

I can walk you through the process for securing and using testimonials. That will give you a tool that can open doors that may, right now, seem impenetrable. To find out more and opt-in to my private newsletter, where we go over vital sales training topics every week, just Click Here.

The Most Important Question of All

Break an egg by an outside force and life ends. Break it by an inside force and life begins.

From prospecting and setting appointments to making presentations and closing, The Inevitable Sale is a potent strategy centered on an “anti-selling” approach to helping professionals get rid of the fear and reluctance so often tied to the sales process.

The outcome is more revenue, less stress, and learning to love your job again.

Sales can be a lot like fighting. There are a few who love to fight, but most of us don’t. And, in its worst form, the sales process can become a battle – seemingly pitting seller against prospect to see who will come out the winner.

The stigma of sales

the thinker

The Thinker :: CC via Wikimedia

Consequently, many people are hesitant – even embarrassed – to let it be known they want to sell something. The physician may leave sales up to the front office, or the attorney crank up the budget on advertising. Few professionals find a way to systematically integrate sales with the rest of their practice.

And that necessarily puts a bottleneck on revenue flow.

Do you sometimes get so discouraged with sales that you want to quit – or give the job over entirely to someone else? I’m here to tell you there is a better way.

Selling is a necessary component of every career and every life … in one way or another. Mothers must sell their children on healthy eating habits, teachers must sell students on the value of learning, and surgeons must sell their patients on successful outcomes.

How would you respond?

Ask yourself this one question, and it can revolutionize your approach to sales and to life. If you would grow and prosper in any occupation or pursuit, ask it of yourself every day.

This one little question will help you gain clarity and focus:

WHY?

  • Why are you in business to begin with?
    • Why should anyone buy from you?
    • Why is your product or service worth the investment?

If you don’t know, or you’re not fully convinced of your answers, STOP NOW and get honest with yourself.

If you find you are in business “to make money,” that people should buy from because you need them to, or you aren’t 100% confident that your products or services can deliver every penny of value you are asking – you are setting yourself up for failure and a gnawing sense of shame.

Let’s develop this idea next week

My intent is not to preach a sermon at you, here; I’m just getting brass-tacks realistic. Sometimes, all that really needs to change is ones attitude … then the whole world looks better.

“Why?” is a critical question, and it is a thread running through The Inevitable Sale.

 

Are you ready to earn more in 2015? Why not get started right now?

  • Do you have questions? Ask them HERE
  • Are you ready for a one-one-one consultation to get more sales? Apply Here