Creating Profitable Relationships
by Earning Trust and
By Donna L. Cohen
counts most in a sales relationship? Without a doubt, it’s trust and
credibility. You may have the world’s best selling techniques, but
if prospects don’t trust you, there goes the sale. Trust and
credibility together are essential for getting to the truth as quickly
as possible in a sales situation—and for developing long-term
relationships. Without them, you can write off a successful sales
said than done? Here are some pointers gleaned from years of sales
experience. To build trust and earn credibility, start early in the
sales process by level-setting expectations. Sales involves mutual
understanding through management of expectations and commitment by
both parties. Setting the expectations of the relationship up front
clarifies the sales process for both you and the prospect. It
eliminates confusion and wasted time. Moreover, when there is mutual
consent about the next step you both will take, and both parties
fulfill the agreed upon step, there is a willingness to continue.
There is trust.
that not every prospect qualifies to be a customer! By giving yourself
permission to work only with those individuals whose needs match the
services you’re offering, you immediately eliminate stress for
yourself and your prospects. You can take the pressure off both
parties and establish trust more easily.
way to take the pressure off the prospect is by using permission-based
phrases, allowing him or her to feel in control of the sales process.
Here are some examples of permission-based phrases:
“Would you be
comfortable letting me know if you don’t think we are a
fit—and that we shouldn’t spend any more time together,
because my intention is not to waste your time?”
“Would it be
“Does it make
“I need your
help...Would you be comfortable...?”
“I am unclear
about...Have you considered...?”
doesn’t hurt to take a lesson from the pros in other fields. Barbara
Walters, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Moyers are great examples of public
figures that people trust. They know how to listen, be themselves,
show personal vulnerabilities and struggles. They have respect for
their subjects and, as a result, their interviews have impact.
of other truly successful people who are also trustworthy and you’ll
find that, first and foremost, they are true to themselves. They
intuitively know that the most important thing they have to sell is
themselves. They understand that the public buys them first, before
their services or products.
example, in my work, every time a new account is closed, it is part of
my sales process to ask new customers what I did to earn their
business. Without exception, I get responses such as, “We bought you,
your experience and your expertise. We trusted that you would help us
achieve our goals.” Or, “You ‘outsold’ the competition by
credibility is not something you can claim as a personal quality. It
is an attribute other people grant when they trust you. Credibility in
sales is earned when you are clear about what you can and cannot do.
It’s important to understand the difference between what the
prospect wants and what your company’s area of expertise can
provide. Here are some other
4-H Club: What better way to demonstrate trust and win credibility than
to make sure these qualities are in play—Honesty, Humor, Humility
(i.e., the willingness to say, “I screwed up” and be ready to fix
your mistake), and cHutzpah (guts). Who wouldn’t want to do business
with someone who genuinely embodies these qualities? Wouldn’t you
want to buy from a person like this? The 4-H Club works in sales and
“In the Moment”: Many
salespeople spend so much time worrying about technique they forget
that sales is about respecting the prospect and figuring out how to
offer value. Trusting the process is about paying attention to
what’s happening in the moment…by listening. It’s not about
closing the sale as quickly as possible to move on to the next
prospect. It will be impossible to trust the process if you do not
believe that what is happening right now is what’s important.
idea of taking control usually means going it alone, being in charge
and having all the answers. This type of personality may inspire some
people, but typically it is intimidating. If we’re completely in
control and have all the answers, there’s no room for the other
person to contribute. When trust is present, the word “control”
becomes synonymous with self-responsibility. Use the Golden Rule as
your guideline and you won’t go wrong.
salespeople are approachable, accessible and easy to talk to. They
never fit the stereotypical description of “sleazy, fast-talking and
I-centered” that the general public often perceives them to be.
Instead, they speak the language of their prospects and understand
their culture. They listen. They have boned up on psychology and can
say the right things. Sometimes they even “play dumb” and discover
it’s a winning strategy.
Which Salesperson are you?
prospects what they want to hear
to make everyone his or her customer
on closing first and foremost
that the prospect buys “you” first, before your product or service
permission-based phrases so the prospect feels in control
on adding value
most successful relationships rely on trust and credibility. The only
way for a customer to become a long-term client is to develop this
relationship. You’ll see that it takes more than just closing skills
to be successful in sales. These tips will help you build rapport and
develop a long-lasting client base.
Read other articles and learn more about
Donna L. Cohen.
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