Tennessean Column- Sunday, May 4th
People Love to Buy - They Hate to be Sold
Everyone in sales has heard a prospect say, “You’re a salesperson. You are just trying to sell me.” If given a choice no salesperson would want to hear that from a prospect. It means there has been a communication disconnect.
In any selling situation the prospect has a healthy degree of skepticism. Most of us are guarded when we meet a salesperson. The common stereotype is that, “This person will say anything to make the sale and earn a commission.” However, if you are in sales you know that is not true. The idea of “let the buyer beware” has long past. Despite this reality, no matter what you are selling, the prospect is asking themselves “Should I trust what this person says?” They are looking for a reason not to buy, not looking for a reason to buy. The prospect is suspicious.
So, as a salesperson, one of the first things we must do is to get people to trust me. I call it, “getting promoted from salesperson to human being.” That’s right; when salespeople first meet a prospect they are subhuman. Once they establish trust they become human in the prospect’s eyes. This is crucial in the first phone call or the first meeting.
So how do you do it? First, you use names. The most important name you can use is the prospect’s name. This accomplishes several things. When a person hears their name it breaks down natural social barriers that exist between prospect and salesperson. This has been proven over and over again. Further, scientists have done brain scans that show when you use a person’s name you stimulate the same part of the brain as sex. Now that is a good start to building trust. Also, although it does not directly build trust when you use your prospect’s name you do hold their attention for 7 seconds. You will never build trust if they are not listening to you.
Another type of name you must use are those of your satisfied customers. It is much easier to get an appointment with a stranger if you know people in common. Zig Ziglar said, “The most powerful influence in selling is the third party testimonial.” The names of your customers are magic. We all trust people more when we know they are doing business with our friends, acquaintances or even people we have heard of but never met.
Almost every salesperson I have watched has difficulty with this at first. It requires leaving your comfort zone. One technique that works is writing the name of the prospect down and also the names of customers you want to use and putting this list in front of you when you are on the phone and during your initial meeting. If in person, put it on your lap or in a folder so the prospect is not offended by your cheat sheet. The true professional will memorize the names they want to use.
A second way to build trust besides the use of names is body language. Studies have proven if you mirror the prospects body language you break down natural barriers between prospect and salesperson. Smiling and nodding your head have been proven to do the same thing. Sixty percent of communication comes from what our body is saying. Start making your body talk more effectively.
Finally, to get a leg up on the trust issue find something in common with your prospect. You can do this by getting preapproach from someone you know in common with your prospect or by looking around their office. Maybe you are both in Rotary or Kiwanis. You both could follow the same sports teams. Whatever it is it helps if you find that common interest.
So next time the prospect says, “You are just trying to sell me”, realize you failed to build trust and mutual respect. Practice these ideas and that comment will go away or you will hear it less often and make more sales.
Babe Ruth said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”