If someone came up to you at the end of last year and asked you to give them a guarantee of what teams would be in this year’s Super Bowl, could you have done it? Prospects ask sales people for guarantees all the time. They are taking a risk that your solution will give them what they need, but this risk creates doubt.
Nothing can stall or kill a sale faster than doubt. I came face to face with this reality at the end of a meeting when I felt everything had gone well. I was positive I was going to get the sale, when I was thrown a long bomb: “What type of guarantee can you provide?” The prospect still had doubt! I can’t guarantee the amount of resistance his employees were going to give him, that market conditions or the economy would not change, that the prospect was going to implement the solution the way I had recommended, I only knew that my solution works when all of these factors are cooperating. I knew my solution would work when everything went the way it was supposed to. How could I give the customer a guarantee? How could I eliminate his doubt?
In today’s economy, it is essential that we gain credibility faster and reduce doubt quicker in order to survive even the initial stages of the sales process. We must show our prospects that we have knowledge that is valuable to their business. We do this by educating them on ways to approach business challenges from a direction they have not considered before.
Here are the three main plays in the sales playbook to help grow trust and credibility early in the sales process and reduce the need for guarantees:
1) What You Say: For many years, sales representatives have learned to question. This is the foundation of a good solutions-oriented sales process. The problem is that many decision makers are tired of this process when they already know the problems their organization has; they just don’t want to tell you what they are. If you want to build credibility and trust, you have to tell them something they don’t already know. Educate them on an aspect of their business they weren’t aware of, or paying attention to.
2) How You Say It: The key here is confidence. If you don’t have the confidence to stand before a decision maker and challenge the way they think, they will not have any confidence or trust in you to direct them through the sales process. Know the value you bring to the table with your solution. Remember that confidence is grown with knowledge, so educate yourself on every aspect of your business and solutions.
3) What You Do: Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best when he wrote, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” We are observed in everything we do by prospects. Make sure that you don’t leave doubt in your prospects minds by over or understating things. This also is a big red flag for those of you who have pictures on Facebook or LinkedIn of the last “keg stand” you performed. Get it off the internet, and make sure your image is what you want it to be.
When you show your customer how valuable you are through the sales process they are willing to risk more. Be confident, knowledgeable and professional and you will be guaranteed to close more sales! (And though not guaranteed, I say Go 49ers!)
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