Sales: Becoming a Trusted Advisor
Dale Carnegie said, “There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it.” When people are intentional in these four contact areas, they can create strong relationships and earn trust.
Dale Carnegie’s research found “71% of respondents say they would rather buy from a salesperson they completely trust than one who gave them a lower price.” Both relationship and trust are critical in sales. Furthermore, “81% of respondents say they would be likely to buy again when customers have a trusted, positive, professional relationship with their salesperson.” These findings show the easiest and most profitable way to drive sales is through trust-based relationships. This translates into becoming a “Trusted Advisor.”
Let’s take a look at each contact area:
- How you look. Do you need to wear a 3-piece suit and tie? No, you need to look like your customers in order to relate to them. You should not wear a suit walking in to meet the owner of a surf shop in Huntington Beach, likewise, you should not wear shorts and sandals to meet with the president of a bank. Today, it is not only how we look in face-to-face situations, but it is also the impression we leave on social media, videos, and virtual meetings. Are you authentically forming a visual impression of the person that your customers want to do business with?
- What we do. From the first time we encounter our customer, we can behave in a way that will start to establish trust. The quickest way to destroy trust is when you do not follow through on your commitments to customers. This can be something small like telling a customer you will call them at a certain time and then you don’t or something more substantial like misquoting them and going back to tell them they will have to pay more. Trust will grow when you are trustworthy by following through on your commitments. Have you dropped the ball on commitments you have made to your customers?
- What we say. What you say is often a reflection of how good you listen. Are you listening to understand your customers’ needs and then offering valuable advice to your customers? You can show your industry expertise and build trust when you educate your customers on aspects of the industry or products, they may not be aware of. Take the time to study and educate yourself so that you can talk your customer’s language. How much time each week do you spend studying your ideal customer’s world?
- How we say it. This is as important as what you say. If your tone is condescending, you will turn off your customers. If you sound like you are not confident in your solution your customers will not be ether. Dale Carnegie’s research shows, “when customers have a trusted, positive, professional relationship with their salesperson, they are three times more likely to forgive a bad experience.” So, when you are going through a stressful situation with customers, check the message you are sending. You must speak with confidence and convey the importance you place on the relationship. What message do you send customers with your vocal tones and body language?
Focusing on the four areas listed above will help you grow trust over time by enhancing both the professional and interpersonal skills. Be intentional in the way you develop trust-based relationships with customers and you will drive profitable sales through becoming a Trusted Advisor.