Last week I wrote a slightly sarcastic post that focused on the negative aspect of credibility in sales.
Today’s post takes a positive approach and offers tangible ideas you can use to improve your credibility as a sales person.
1. Arrive early for calls and appointments
Let’s face it…punctuality can be challenging at times. Meetings that run over their allotted time, traffic delays, construction, etc. can make it difficult to arrive on time for your sales calls. However, when you arrive late for an appointment you not only run the risk of losing your credibility, you also stand the chance of losing the sales opportunity.
My suggestion is to plan your schedule so that you arrive at least 15 minutes early for every sales call, meeting or appointment. This can certainly be challenging if you schedule multiple appointments in a day. However, if you add buffer time to each meeting and the necessary travel time required to get from one appointment to the next, you can reduce the likelihood of arriving late.
This not only helps you arrive on time, it also reduces your stress and gives you time to mentally prepare for the upcoming meeting.
2. Research your prospect’s business or company
Regardless of how busy you are, invest a few minutes gaining an understanding of their business, their customers, and some of the business challenges they face related to your product or service BEFORE you contact them. In most cases, a quick Google search or browse of their website will achieve this goal.
Be careful not to fall into the trap of investing hours of time research a company instead of making your calls. I remember talking to one sales rep who admitted that she spent more than 40 hours researching one prospect. That was definitely excessive!
3. Spend most of your meetings or sales calls listening
Telling is selling…at least in some people’s minds. However, this approach prevents you from engaging your prospect in a meaningful dialogue, and generally speaking, it is ineffective.
It is much more effective to give the other person the majority of the airtime, even if you are doing a formal sales presentation. If the objective of your sales call is to present a product, structure your presentation so that it gets the other person involved. Checking in for questions or asking them to comment are two simple ways to achieve this goal.
4. Don’t interrupt your customers and prospects
It’s okay if your customer interrupts you to make a point or ask a question. However, you need to resist the temptation to do the same, especially if you possess a Driver-style personality.
Interrupting someone to make your point is a selfish behavior and it usually prevents you from learning more about the other person’s situation. When you encounter those situations, bite your tongue and wait patiently for the other person to finish talking before interjecting your comment.
5. Tell people only what they need to know about your product, service or solution
Contrary to popular belief, your customers and prospect seldom, if ever, need to know everything about your offering. This may be difficult to comprehend if you are an Analytical type individual because I know you believe that an abundance of information is critical in order to make a decision.
However, very few people need to know all the details, specs, features and bell and whistles. You can be much more effective by discussing only the elements of your offering that are relevant to each particular customer or prospect.
6. Follow through
Most sales conversations require some type of follow up or follow through. When you fail to execute the follow-up steps, you will be seen as someone who can’t execute.
If you make a promise or commitment to someone, make sure you do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it. Schedule it in your Smartphone, Outlook calendar, or DayTimer (does anyone actually use these anymore?) and then execute it.
7. Pitch your offering after determining if a need exists
Too many sales people still make the fatal mistake of pitching their product or service before they have uncovered a need or demand for it.
You can increase your credibility as a sales professional by asking well-thought-out questions to determine a prospect’s potential need for your offering. Even if your research has determined that a need exists, you should validate it by asking a few questions.
8. Regularly update your product knowledge
This can be difficult, especially in businesses where the life-cycle of many products is shrunk or in industries that have rapidly developing technology.
It may be impossible to become highly knowledgeable about all of your products; however, investing time to update your knowledge is a good investment of time. Talk to your engineers or product specialists.
9. Befriend the gatekeeper
I know many sales people who will say or do almost anything to get past the gatekeeper in order to connect with a key decision maker. However, this type of manipulative approach seldom pays off in the long run.
When I worked in the corporate world my desk was across from the Vice President’s executive assistant and it was interesting to watch how she responded to people trying to connect with our boss. The most successful people enlisted her help, treated her with respect, asked her questions, and in some cases, treated her like she was the actual decision maker.
What do you think? Are there other behaviors that can help you improve your credibility? What do you do to gain credibility?