Let’s face it – many potential customers see your sales call as an interruption from the important things they feel they ought to be doing. A salesperson is often viewed as an intruder, a money-grabber, and sometimes even a beggar. The reason for these feelings is that customers are typically given no idea what you are about to do. It is the same as being in a dentist’s chair and the dentist just begins digging and drilling, without first telling you what they are about to do and why they are doing it. Unless you can change that initial attitude and atmosphere right off the bat, you are potentially doomed before you even get started.
Before selling can begin, tension and fear of the unknown must be greatly reduced or eliminated. Potential customers must come to feel that you are a trustworthy and creditable person, that you have something important to say to them, and that they might ultimately benefit enough to justify the time they invest in listening to you. That’s a big order, isn’t it? But let’s add one more dimension to make it even bigger. You have to accomplish all of those things in a matter of minutes – sometimes even in seconds.
Here are two very effective strategies to eliminate tension and establish trust.
YOU HAVE TO WIN THE INNER GAME
Potential customers can read you like a book. They can instantly sense your confidence level, your attitude about selling in general as well as the product you are selling, your feelings toward them, and your personal comfort level at being with them. It shows in your eyes, your gestures and movements, and even in your tone of voice. You simply can’t consistently fake your way through the inner game of selling and be a winner in the outer game. “But I can’t change the way I think and feel!” is a common protest. WRONG! You can change even your most basic attitudes and thoughts. It begins when you start replacing your negative, self-limiting thoughts with positive thoughts and beliefs.
If you want to experience a real change in the way potential customers see you, start feeding some of these positive thoughts into your mind.
- Selling is an honorable profession that is worthy of my best efforts.
- I will enable my customer to discover what they are missing, so we can find out what they want and need, and then I will help them attain it.
- I am a value generator for this customer and for all of my clients.
- My prices are not too high. I will see to it that the customer gets what they pay for – and more.
- I am a capable and confident salesperson, and the company I represent is a solid firm which seeks to deliver greater value than the competition.
- I will not rely upon high pressure or persistence to make this sale, but will concentrate on making a good impression upon this customer.
- When I finish this interview, the buyer and I will be totally clear on what the next step is to be.
- It is perfectly okay for the customer to say, “No.”
Not one of these statements is an artificial claim that you cannot back up with facts. If you have a problem believing any of them, let me urge you to work through them until you can honestly say them to yourself. When you truly start to see yourself in that light, you’ll be happily surprised at how much more warmly your potential customers will receive you.
YOU MUST CREATE TRUST AND CREDIBILITY
The natural condition that exists at the beginning of any selling situation is tension. We could talk for days about all of the factors that cause such tension, but you’ve probably experienced enough of it to know how real it is. The fact is tension will exist until you take action to reduce or eliminate it. So let’s focus on what you can do about it.
Here are three techniques we have found to be very helpful in eliminating the tension and creating an atmosphere of trust and creditability.
FOCUS ON THE PRESENT
Eliminate any unnecessary tension inducers before calling on your potential customer. At the time of any sales call, the one with whom you are speaking is the only customer you have. So clear your mind of the last one or the one coming up, problems back at the office, a phone message you did not like, something going on in your personal life, and any other self-limiting thoughts. Get present and give that potential customer 100% of your attention. In addition – and this should go without saying – keep any judgments, emotions and criticisms under lock and key.
GET ON THE SAME PAGE
A quiet manner, a mild sense of humor and a warm smile can go a long way toward breaking down barriers between you and your potential customer. One of the best ways to make someone relax is to be as much like them as possible. Match and mirror their physiology and behaviors. A good example would be if they offer you a cup of coffee, simply ask if they are going to have one. If they say no, you say no; if they say yes, you say yes. Also match their tone and pace while speaking. One of the quickest ways to get a potential customer to totally tune you out is to talk either faster or slower than they do. By mirroring their behavior, you set the customer at ease and allow them to open up to the conversation.
BE A GOOD GUEST
Ask permission before you do anything. I remember a salesperson who walked into a potential customer’s office, moved things around on his desk, and then set up a computer for a presentation. The look on the customer’s face told me exactly how he felt. It was over! Before the meeting starts, establish the following: a) permission to ask a lot of questions, and b) permission to interrupt if you need clarification on something. In addition, be sure to give your potential customer a lot of praise and compliments. Even if they give you a compliment first, give it right back to them by saying something like, “Thank you but you made it easy for me to…” Finally, the most important thing to know is how much time they have allowed for the meeting. Whatever the amount, honor it. Not until they can trust you with something as minor as respecting their time request, can they trust you with bigger responsibilities.
Remember, tension is the natural state that exists in any selling situation. It won’t just go away on its own. You have to take positive steps to create the kind of trust which eliminates or reduces the tension before you can ever begin selling.
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