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Channel Coach: Building Trust and Building Sales

We recently prepared and presented an advanced sales seminar which focused on trust-based selling. In selecting materials for this seminar, we highlighted results from a survey conducted by Miller Heiman that singled out lack of trust as the No. 1 reason prospects do not buy from a vendor. In fact, lack of trust was cited by more than 50 percent of respondents as the reason buyers turned down a vendor. In contrast, the second reason given for not selecting a vendor, no need for the service, accounted for only 13 percent of the responses. To extrapolate from these two responses, if a prospect has a need, they will not buy from you if they do not trust you. So how do you gain the trust of prospects, clients, employees and others with whom you do business?

The best way to build trust is to always deliver on promises and commitments. When you tell a client you will follow up on a problem — take ownership and do just that. Communicate status regularly and inform them of the progress you have made on their behalf.

Another way to build trust is to establish ongoing relationships with your clients and prospects. Do not just try to sell your products or services, but take the time to ask about their business. Asking open-ended probing questions such as — what are the challenges they are facing, what are the dynamics of their markets, what would be an ideal solution to help solve their problems — will get the client or prospect to open up and share information and insights that you can use. Then, stop and listen to their answers. Use the 80/20 rule and listen to the client for 80 percent of your call and speak for only 20 percent. Initially that may be hard to do, but you will learn more and let the client know you value what they have to say.

Building Trust

  • Always deliver on promises and commitments
  • Establish ongoing relationships with clients and prospects
  • Put clients’ needs before your own
  • Keep your clients and prospects in mind — all of the time
  • Invite clients and prospects to be part of the solution process

Keep your client in mind — all the time — and let them know you are thinking about them. If you read a blog, online article or newspaper story that may be of interest to a client, prospect or industry group, clip the article or forward the link with a short note about how the information may interest or impact them, whether positively or negatively. This little extra is particularly effective in demonstrating that you are keeping their interests in mind, all of the time. You may even come across a story or an article that will enable you to use a third-party endorsement to support an idea, product or service you already have proposed to the client and they will be more receptive to considering it if you have a history of keeping in touch with them.

When building trust, it is essential to provide room for collaboration. Provide possible scenarios and options when offering ideas and advice to clients and prospects to engage them in the process. When clients are actively engaged you will often find a deeper level of interaction with them. By providing options, you empower the buyer to think about how each one impacts their business from an insider’s vantage point.

Take the time to review and discuss each option, and be sure to include both advantages and disadvantages, to help the buyer formulate a positive impression about you as a service provider. Your ideas must be genuine for your prospect to consider them in good faith. Providing options that are not in the buyer’s best interest usually are discovered quickly, if not by the buyer, then most certainly by the competition. If the buyer ever believes you have placed your own interest before theirs, the trust you have worked so hard to build will be gone. The best solution may not always yield the most profit for you, but sometimes taking a little less on a particular transaction may open the door to more opportunities later on.

A few years ago, we had the opportunity to help a small business with an issue. There were several approaches we could have taken, but we chose to provide two different project scopes and deliverables. As we strongly recommended, the client took the least expensive option and we delivered beyond what we promised. The client was appreciative of our extra effort and when an opportunity arose, they recommended us to a new potential client. This strong recommendation established initial trust for our firm with this new prospect and we won their business without a competitive bidding process.

Trust building is just that, and building does not happen overnight. Always consider and value the relationship over the sale and keep your customers’ needs first.

Got Questions? Ask the Channel Coach. Send your questions to wbtaylor@corporateladders.com. Please include your name, city, state and a phone number where you can be reached. First names and locations only will be published.

Bill Taylor is president of Corporate Ladders, a management, sales and business development consulting and coaching firm specializing in technology, telecom, Internet, health care and financial services companies. He can be reached at +1 201 825 8296 or wbtaylor@corporateladders.com.


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