“The only way to earn someone’s business is to earn their trust and the best way to earn their trust is to simply be attentive to them.” ~ Author Unknown.
This was the quote in the VIBE News this month, and we felt it was important to expound on it a little further by sharing some strategies that we employ to create successful client opportunities.
Trust is a huge word when doing business and even more so these days. We strive hard to create a working trust with our clients. It is the foundation for the longevity of a company. If you do not have trust with a client, you can kiss your business, never mind the account – good bye.
There are several levels of trust that clients are looking for:
Competency. Can you do what you’re promising? Can you back it up? Competency inspires trust.
Ethical Conduct. Do you handle yourself in an ethical manner? This also translates to reputation and you only have one.
Transparency. Are you transparent in your business dealings? This is more important than ever this changed economic climate.
Relationship. They need to know that they can tell you proprietary information and it will be held in confidence and not used for gain with a competitor or worse. They need to trust that you will respect the business relationship.
Integrity. A client needs to trust that you will do exactly as you say you will do.
It’s integral to your business that you live by all five of these rules. Trust is the foundation of business sustainability. Without trust a business is not sustainable. Let me repeat that. Without TRUST, a business is not sustainable.
Take a “what can we do for our clients approach rather than asking what they can do for you.” If you approach a sale with an attitude of dollars and cents, you will never create a great partnership. In addition, dollars and cents desperation is like fear…you can smell it a mile away and it can lead down a road to catastrophe if your prospective client thinks that you’ll tell them anything just to get the business (there’s that trust thing again). One of the things that we do well at VIBE is to listen when selling. A great salesman knows that to listen is one of the strongest assets you can possess when trying to sell a product or service to someone. Why, you ask? If you let the client do the talking, you can rest assured they are fully engaged with you since we as humans can’t talk about one thing and think about another. If YOU are doing all the talking, you’ve left them free to let their mind wander and think about everything else they want to be doing. They become a passive audience. Simply put, shut up and listen and let the client tell you what they want to buy…you can “ creatively up sell” later. Selling your client what YOU want them to buy will not serve you in the long run.
Make sure that your product or service is compatible with what the service or product that the prospective client would be looking to purchase. Trying to sell to a competitor or someone that would never use your service or product is a waste of time for both you and the person’s time you are presenting to. I’ve sat through many a sales presentation where the person selling was a clear competitor to what our company did. I have no shame in asking a salesperson if they’ve taken the time to view our website, knowing fully they hadn’t otherwise they wouldn’t be there wasting everyone’s time. Take the time to research the company and the person you are presenting to. Are they a decision maker? Are they looking for your product or service? Understand their culture and way of doing business. Familiarize yourself with the brand and their accomplishments. Look for opportunities from which to begin building the relationship/partnership bridge. If you’re not willing to do that, you are going to end up hopping out of a meeting on one foot because the other foot is in your mouth and additionally your credibility as a knowledgeable professional is lost with that prospect and perhaps whomever they share their experience with. That’s a lot of damage to repair. Know your prospective customer!
Ask for the business. I see so many people that put thousands of dollars into a proposal, sales trips and presentations only to walk away at the end without asking for the business. The common understanding of your being there is to sell them something…you are seriously shorting your ROI (and sales trips, time out of the office, and travel expenses are pricey) if you don’t ASK for the business at the end of the conversation. In addition, doing so creates an opportunity for a natural follow up communication with them.
While none of these things that I’ve mentioned today should be an epiphany to a salesperson or business owner, they can power up your approach in building a solid foundation for a long and beneficial partnership that creates a win-win situation for both you and your customer. Good luck and happy selling!