As consumers become more technically advanced and knowledgeable about products, the role of the sales professional becomes more complex. Contrary to popular belief, salespeople are more necessary now than ever. The effectiveness of your approach is largely determined by your sales credibility, which is built on a foundation of trust. Salesforce has identified five sales credibility killers that erode that trust.
The first killer is failing to make a connection between your customer's needs and your products and services. In order to fulfill these needs, you must understand the customer's organization in detail and identify all of the gaps that your offerings can fill. The better you understand your customer's issues, the easier it will be to position your company as the best solution.
Another major sales credibility killer is assuming your customers haven't already done their homework. If your company has a functioning website, LinkedIn profile or social media page, assume the customer already has a good idea of the products and services you offer. It is your responsibility to present new information or insights that they haven't already seen. Starting your presentation with a product showcase is the fastest way to bore them until they tune you out.
A third sales credibility killer is placing too much emphasis on product-focused marketing materials. Companies spend significant time and money on product information sheets, presentations and brochures, but these should not be used to lead your conversations. Think of them as supporting documents in case the client requests more information. The star of the show should be materials that are "vendor-agnostic," meaning they provide fresh perspectives and market insights that eventually lead the customer back to your solution. By demonstrating fit and value to the customer, you become less of a salesperson and more of a trusted advisor.
Killer number four is assuming there is only one person in charge of the buying decision. Too many sales professionals make the mistake of delivering a pitch to the CEO with no regard to who else might benefit from their solutions. Again, you must understand your customer's business from top to bottom in order to know how each department works within itself and with each other. The better you know your customer's business, the easier it is to create a solution that benefits the company as well as each relevant department.
Last but not least, the fifth sales credibility killer is asking a question that makes you appear clueless about the company. It's challenging enough just getting someone influential to agree to listen to your pitch. The worst thing you can do is convey that you have no idea how the firm operates. Before the first conversation, it is your job to become an expert at their business model in order to position yourself as the only solution they need. Be ready and able to discuss the customer's recent news or issues and share your ideas and experiences with other companies, as well as prior expertise you and your company have in dealing with said problems.
Understanding how your company can positively impact your customer's business model is essential to establishing your sales credibility. Build a foundation of trust by avoiding mistakes that indicate you don't understand the customer's needs. If you can't do that, you'll be just another salesperson.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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