One of the keys to building successful relationships when starting your career in sales is fostering trust with clients.
Clients sleep better at night knowing that you are available to answer any questions and consult on any potential changes or wrinkles that could interrupt their revenue stream.
You might be sure of your ability to be the reliable sales contact of their dreams. The trick is in conveying to them that you’ll be there to watch for their best interests, no matter what. At its essence, that’s what makes a career in sales rewarding.
1. Go back to the fundamentals: This means every bit of professional advice you’ve received about getting a job or making a sale, including the basics, like being on time. Even being 10 minutes late can make the difference in a sales relationship, as Michelle Nichols writes for Bloomberg Businessweek: “You may not think being on time and the quality of your offerings are related, but when a customer is just getting to know you, they don’t have a lot of history to evaluate, so every bit counts.”
2. Be open-minded: Here’s a turn-off by salespeople — acting like their product or service is so crucial that it’s the equivalent of an antidote for a snake-bite victim. Don’t go overboard on the pitch, or you might talk yourself out the door, as author Geoffrey James writes in a story for inc.com. “If you’re absolutely convinced the customer needs your product, the customer will sense you’re close-minded and become close-minded in return,” James writes. “Instead, be open to the idea that the customer might be better served elsewhere. In turn, customers will sense that you’ve got their best interests at heart.”
3. Reliability is everything: This could be considered the ultimate point in terms of developing trust with a client. If salespeople live up to their promises, that connection should get stronger. As author and sales consultant Barry Farber says in a story for entrepreneur.com: “Every time you get back to the customer with the information he’s requested, you’re building trust. Every time you follow up after the customer receives your service or product, you’re building trust. And every time you respond to a problem immediately and solve it right away (or at least make sure the customer knows you’re on top of it), you’re building trust. No miracles necessary — it’s just about being there for the customer before, during and after the sale.”
4. Candor counts: Every salesperson should be as prepared as possible before a sales call. But there will be times when you’re stumped. Rather than stammer your way through a non-answer — like a hack politician at a press conference — be straightforward. “I don’t know” isn’t something you want to say, and you might cringe inside as you say it, but it’s better than dancing around it. Note that you will get the the answer as soon as possible to show you are serious enough to follow through. “Clients value honesty when dealing with a service provider,” writes sales consultant Joe Heller for eyesonsales.com. “They want the person to be straight forward about what will and what won’t work about their solution as it relates to their problem. They respect and appreciate your candor, so if you don’t know the answer and let your client know that in fact ‘you don’t know’ creates a foundation for a solid business relationship.”
5. Be decisive: A wishy-washy salesperson won’t inspire any confidence. If the client is asking for the moon, and the numbers don’t make sense, then a sale may not be in the cards this time around. “Be willing to take a stand, even when it’s unpopular with your customer or your company,” James writes. “You don’t need to be adversarial, but have the ability to make decisions based upon what you know is right.“