Selling is not so much about the features of our products or services–or even the benefits the customer receives. Rather, it is about our relationship with the customer. People do business with people they trust.
That does not mean people will not make an occasional purchase of a specific item or service from someone they do not trust, because most people will. However, those purchases tend to be exactly that—one-time purchases.
To generate consistent, repeat business, to generate high quality referrals and to generate larger, more profitable sales, you cannot rely on the occasional one-time purchaser. To build a sales business you must develop a book of clients who trust you.
Most people will pay a little more, sacrifice a little, or wait a little longer when buying from someone whom they really trust and respect. The hard part is building the trust and then maintaining the trust.
What are the keys to building client trust?
1. Know What You Are Talking About
Customers and clients want to be able to trust that you know what you are talking about. When you tell them something, they want to be able to rely on what you said. If the information you relay turns out to be wrong, you have created a doubt. Create just a few doubts in a client’s mind and you have destroyed your ability to gain their trust.
So, what do you do when you do not know the answer? Unlike many, if not most salespeople, you do not make it up as you go along–or guess. You simply let them know that you do not know but you will find out—and then find out. You might even be able to make a call to get the information while you are with them. If you cannot, give them a specific date and time that you will get back with them with the information. In addition, before calling them, double check to make sure the information is correct.
2. Give the Right Advice
Just as a client or customer wants to be able to trust the information you give, they want to be able to trust the advice and recommendations you give. This means that if your analysis of their situation indicates that your product or service is not the right solution for their problem, you let them know and then direct them to where they can get the right product or service.
Nothing will destroy your credibility and the client’s trust faster or more surely than if they believe you are giving false or prejudiced, self-serving advice or recommendations. And once caught giving (or being perceived to be giving) self-servicing advice or making self-serving recommendations, you will never recapture the customer’s trust or respect.
This is tough and takes a great deal of integrity. That is the core of establishing a relationship built on trust and respect. Once the client knows that you are willing to sacrifice an immediate sale for the sake of maintaining your integrity, your reputation with that client is sealed. They may not purchase from you now, but they will come back because they know that you will lead them in the right direction—even if that direction is away from you.