BrainTrust Query: Building Relationships Starts With Trust
Salespeople need to be taught to go beyond the traditional skills of their craft: emphasizing features and benefits, engaging in fact-based selling or using pressure or other subtle tactics to create "pain," etc. But there also needs to be awareness of how to appeal to the emotional decision-making requirements the buyer has to have met. One of the key challenges for a salesperson is to build a relationship with his or her prospect. But to do that, one needs to develop trust.
Trust does not happen solely by the sharing of data or facts. In fact, when logic, data, quantitative input and facts are offered, we tend to want to challenge, argue and dispute them. When we are told a "story," we relax and listen for ways in which it mirrors our own reality. We are willing to share experiences, and the conversation becomes a dialogue of equals — and not a salesperson trying to sell something to a resistant buyer.
Overall, building trust requires the six Cs: Competency, Commitment, Communication/Clarity, Caring, Collaboration, Character. But critically, it involves putting them into action:
- Competency: Rather than go on and on about the level of their selling decks (all self-reported), he or she should share an example of how the sales team had solved a problem for a client or customer. The example will convey the competency far better than beating of the chest and claiming one’s superiority.
- Commitment: The salesperson should share a story of how the company went above and beyond the expected. It is far more accessible for the prospect than simply stating, "We are with you from sale to implementation."
- Communication/Clarity: Share a time when, by virtue of your communicating clearly, you avoided a catastrophe that was bound to happen.
- Caring: Examples should be offered such as when the salesperson personally delivered product to a customer’s home in time for a scheduled bridal party because a shipment was late in arriving to the store and could not be picked up before the party started.
- Collaboration: For example, the salesperson could recount that time the firm worked side by side with a client to staple pages and punch holes in their sheets to be stuffed into binders.
- Character: Avoiding gossip and not taking potshots at competitors will be noted in the salesperson’s favor.
Discussion Questions: What do you think builds trust for retail sales associates with prospective clients? Which of the 6 C’s noted in the article is most challenging for associates to master in building trust?