I am often asked how can salespeople build trust and credibility into the sales process so they can close more sales faster.
It’s a common question because of one simple fact. Buyers won’t believe the message until they believe in the messenger.
In other words, simply put, you will not make a sale until the prospect trusts you.
What is the Defintion of Trust?
First, what do we mean by trust and credibility? According to Merriam Webster, the definition of trust is an “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something”.
Taking that from a sales standpoint, trust is defined as a prospect’s belief that you will do exactly what you say you will do, when you say you will do it. It’s nothing more than that. When they believe you will fulfill your commitments, you have created the trust needed for them to buy. If you over- promise and under-deliver however, you may lose the opportunity forever.
The challenge is that often we need to open sales opportunities with prospects that have never heard of us before, let alone trust us enough to buy from us. Therefore, the key question is how can we as salespeople systematically build trust and credibility into the relationship throughout the sales process so that the prospect eventually feels comfortable enough to buy from us.
Why it’s Hard to Build Trust and Credibility
So why do sales people have a difficult time building trust? There a couple of reasons.
First, they just don’t know you! Think about it this way. We are all more likely to buy from the same place as our friends. That’s because there is already a certain level of trust already exists if you are referred to a company by a friend or colleague.
However, if you have never met your prospect before, not only do you not have trust, you could be starting in a negative position! It’s like, “If you are so good at what you do, why have I never heard of you before?”
Another Reason Salespeople Find It Hard to Build Trust
Another reason why it’s hard to build trust with prospective customers is because prospects have been let down before. They have been disappointed by sales representatives who made commitments they couldn’t keep, and now they are leery of all sales representatives. It’s almost guilt by association!
Be it right or wrong, they just don’t believe you to be trustworthy, so you are going to have to prove it!
Remember, your prospect’s perception is the reality in which you operate. You can’t change their past experiences, but you can start early in the sales process to show the prospect how you do business.
Stop Losing Your Customer’s Trust!
Before you can answer the question how salespeople can build trust and credibility, you first must discuss how they lose it in the first place.
Every time you fulfill a commitment, you build trust. Every time you break a commitment, however, you lose trust. In fact, you do more damage than if you never made the promise in the first place.
If you over- promise and under-deliver however, you may lose the opportunity forever.
Committments Made During the Sales Process
Sometimes, it’s what salespeople think are the insignificant events that happen before the sales process even starts, that will make you lose enough of the prospect’s trust to ensure that you will never sell them anything in the future.
A customer email not answered in a timely fashion. An unreturned voicemail. A no show or are late for an appointment. A missed deadline. These are all implied committments that salespeople break every day.
How Salespeople Lose Credibility
Let me give you a few real life examples of how sales people can lose a potential customer’s trust.
A sales rep who was trying to sell me a service left me a voice mail. I returned his message within 5 minutes, but he didn’t call me back for over a week. I thought, “If this is the response I get when he is trying to win me as a customer, what kind of service can I expect once he has me as a customer.” Needless to say, he did not manage to book the appointment once he finally got around to calling me back.
Another sales rep called to follow up on an email I had sent to his company inquiring about their services. I checked my sent items folder only to find that I had sent the email over 3 weeks ago. Regardless of whether he had just received my email from his marketing department that day, or that he had just decided to follow up on it now is irrelevant. I simply did not trust him or his company to service my needs.
More Examples of How Salespeople Lose Trust in the Sales Process
In just one week, four sales “professionals” did not call when they said they were going to for their telephone appointments. And this is after each of them initiated the sales process with me!
In each of these examples, my first impression was that I could not trust the salespeople. They showed me they will not respond to customer inquiries in a timely fashion. As such, each of them lost the opportunity to do business with me ever in the future.
How Sales Organizations Lose Trust
A large company with huge brand recognition lost my trust once. First, they did not fully live up to their offer promised in their marketing email. Then they invoiced me when I was only half way through my free trial. Lastly, their sales rep failed to show up for our scheduled and confirmed telephone appointment.
Proof positive that effective marketing may get you in the door, but it’s your customer service that keeps you there.
Every time a potential customer has contact with you or your company, an expectation has been set as to how the business relationship is going to work. If a website promises 24/7 technical support, it creates an expectation. Or if you promise installation within 24 hours, the customer now expects it. Why? Because you told them to!
How Salespeople Can Build Trust and Credibility to Close More Sales Faster
Here are 7 quick and easy ways salespeople can build credibility and trust to close more sales faster:
- Use testimonials and case studies from satisfied customers in your proposals and on your website to demonstrate trustworthiness. This is critical! There are more details how to do this below so please keep reading.
- Include testimonials in your “About” section of your Linkedin profile. Also, ask for and post Recommendations on your LinkedIn and other social media profiles. These days, virtually every prospect will check your LinkedIn profile before they buy from you. It’s almost like a reference check of how well they can trust you.
- Return voice mails and emails the same day. Just do it. You expect the same level of response when you are the buyer, and so do your prosects.
- Don’t be late for phone or face to face appointments.
- Include a “Shared Expectations & Implementation Schedule” section in all proposals. This is basically an outline of your business relationship between you and your customer. If you want more information on this, there is a template on this document in my ebook, Action Plan For Sales Success.
- Don’t hide when a customer has a problem. Fix them quickly and efficiently. Studies show that if you solve a customer’s problem quickly and efficiently, they will trust you more and be more loyal to you than if the problem never occurred in the first place.
- Always schedule an after sale follow up call within 30 days of product delivery. This is a meeting to confirm that the customer is satisfied with you and your company. They key is to actually book this at the time the customer signs your sales order paperwork. Again, I do into much more detail on this in my ebook.
Let Your Happy Customers Do The Talking For You!
I highly, highly recommend using testimonials and case studies throughout the sales process, wherever, and wherever possible. Put them on your website, include them in your brochures, include a full page of them in every proposal, include them in all your social media profiles. If potential customers visit your office, frame your reference letters and hang them on the waiting room walls.
I even put one in my email signature. It’s very powerful for me as a sales coach when you get an email and right below my contact information you see a testimonial quote that says, “Thanks for the training. I reached my quota this year in May!”. That builds trust!
Every time a potential customer sees one of your testimonials, they are seeing proof from a happy customer that you do what you say you are going to do. AND they start to trust you.
For detailed information on a guaranteed approach to receive more testimonials, download our sales training webinar video, How to Build Trust Into Your Sales Process so You Can Sell More Faster! In fact, one attendee wrote, “I just wanted to thank you for your great webinars…its changed my business and has helped me build trust with new and repeat customers. … Thanks again, it’s really made a positive difference and yes, you can quote me on that!”
The Bottom Line on How Salespeople Can Build Trust and Credibilty
Salespeople believe that the sale stops when the contracts are signed. But customers believe this is when the sale is just beginning! This is when they see if their trust is well placed.
If you give them reason to doubt that you will actually do what you promise you will once you have them as customer, sometimes no matter how valid the reason, they simply will not buy from you!
Remember, if you over promise and under deliver, you lose trust. Lose enough trust, and you lose sales.
After all, as the old saying goes, ““Trust is like a vase. Once it’s broken, though you can fix it, the vase will never be same again.”
“… what I can tell anyone, is simply this – If you want to learn and understand sales, talk to Susan.”
For a free copy of our white paper 6 Steps to Building a Powerful Lead Referral Program in 30 Days, visit the B2B Sales Connections Free Download Centre!
Do you have a question about sales? You’re not alone. Most salespeople have questions like this on how they can sell more. For the right answers, check out my book, Ask the Sales Coach-Practical Answers to the Questions Sales People Ask Most.