Trust and The Sales Cycle

It’s a natural law that trust engenders trust. And most importantly, if you trust yourself first, it is far more likely that others will find you trustworthy.

Now, we’ve all had our trust betrayed by slick con-men in the form of banksters, lawyers, politicians, and other thieves so many times, it’s no surprise that we’re slow to trust anyone anymore. This is particularly true in the business of sales

You must recognize that trust factor (the lack of) is a major barrier to all sales. It is something you cannot neglect or ignore and still expect to survive in this profession.

The element of trust between you and the prospect deserves your full attention before anything else. Don’t try brush it off and hurriedly try to get into the sales presentation. If you do, you’re wasting your time and the attention of the customer.

Trust is a personal consideration. People rely on instincts, impressions and other tiny signals to tell if you’re worthy of their trust or if they should remain skeptical or suspicious. Just because you say, “trust me” doesn’t mean they have to.

Trust is the glue that holds it all together, it’s something that weaves it’s way through every step in the sales cycle. If handled perfectly, the final close is as natural as rain and easy to accomplish. But drop the ball on the “trust factor” at any step along the way and it’s like pulling teeth without an anesthetic.

Following is a look at the trust factor in relationship to the five-step sales cycle.

1. Contact
The contact often comes from a personal referral, which along with personal contact is the best way to start building trust. If a friend says you’re trustworthy, they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt – at least until you prove them wrong. You still have to earn their trust and prove that their friend was right in recommending you.

As you have only chance to make a good first impression, you must make it a good one. Time spent on preparation, planning and drilling your introduction will pay large dividends as you move forward.

2. Qualification
The second step is qualification. Most sales reps think the qualification step is where you determine if the prospect is qualified to purchase what they are selling. But this is a double-edged sword and it cuts both ways.

The qualification step is also when the prospect is qualifying you!

The prospect is thinking: Do you have a verifiable track record?  Are you credible? Are you trustworthy? What are your values? Are you straightforward and easy to understand?

The prospect is establishing a position in their mind of you, your company, and your service or product. Once this position is formed, for better or for worse, it’s usually not easy to change.

3. Presentation
No matter what form this may take, it is essentially the point when you show your goods.

When you reach this point the stage should be set for you to make your presentation. Trust is also an important element at this point as well. The prospect trusts you with their attention, their time, and their interest. But, stray off the point, waste their time and attention by sending mixed messages and you’ll lose them quickly.

If you’re the expert, show them; don’t just tell them.

They are putting their trust in you to take them on a path of increasing awareness of the benefit to them that your product or service will be. At this point, they are still hoping that you’ll show them something. This is your chance. Use it or lose it.

If you have misrepresented yourself in any way, you’ll break the bond of trust, usually permanently.

4. Handling Objection
In a typical sales cycle, the next step is handling objections. The salesperson by this time, has determined the customer’s priorities and will be explaining the benefits and downplaying the negatives of what seems to be the best fit based on the first three steps as above.

Most sales people know that a disinterested client doesn’t come up with objections. Only a client who is interested in what you’re offering brings up objections.

You must handle these in a way to maintain the trust that you’ve built up already between you and the prospect. This is where they discover more about you. Do you maintain your interest in them? Are you still as polite as you were in the beginning? Or do you dismiss their concerns as unimportant or brush them aside as insignificant?

How you handle (or don’t handle) objections relate directly to them continuing to trust you or not. Careful listening and skillful, interested handling of their concerns and worries will win the day in handling objections.

5. The Close
The closing step gets a bad reputation only when you skip the vital steps leading up to it.

This step is when the trust factor is truly tested. When the issue of money (often a hot topic) comes into the equation, it is very common for previous betrayals on the subject to come flooding back to mind, almost unconsciously.

But, if you’ve done the prior steps completely, this step is quite matter of fact and is easily accomplished.  If you can handle this step without tension, anxiety or stress of any kind, this alone will calm the fears of the prospect.

When you demonstrate a calm, confident (and truthful) manner in dealing with this sometimes-uncomfortable step, it makes it easier for you and for them.

Commonly it’s only necessary to tell them the price, arrange for payment and find out when they want to start.

If you’ve done each step to good result, the close is just like taking the final step up a stairway. It’s easy and natural.

It also proves to the prospect that they were right in trusting you from the beginning!

daniel w. jacobs
© 2009 – 2030, all rights reserved


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