Sales and trust. Not exactly two words today’s buyers think of as synonymous. According to HubSpot Research, only 3% of people consider salespeople trustworthy.
It should come as no surprise, then, that I've found a breach in trust is the most common reason a rep loses a deal.
And yet talking about obtaining and maintaining trust is rarely discussed amongst sales leaders. It's about time we talk about trust and sales with honesty.
If you find the below strategies valuable, I encourage you to register for free for HubSpot's Inbound Sales Day. I'll be expanding on this topic with a session called "Lessons in Trust from the World's Best Closer: The Doctor." Learn more about Inbound Sales Day here.
1) You don't follow through on exactly what (and when) you promised.
It's just too easy to say, "I'll have that to you by the end of the day." Then the end of the day comes and ... you decide you can send it tomorrow, you're too swamped and couldn't get it done.
Your email tomorrow morning either ignores your dishonesty or starts with an apology.
Either way, you've already lost trust and credibility. Get in the habit of under-promising and over-delivering. If you need to send follow up collateral or answer questions, don't set yourself up for failure.
2) You talk about what you want, not the buyer.
Have you ever sent an email (or started a call) that began with "Hey Jane, I wanted to..." or “Hi Jane, I’d like to … ” Stop. Please, for the love of sales, stop talking about what you want to do.
Your buyer doesn't care about the fact that you "wanted" to follow up or you "want" to get on a call. It's filler junk and you know it.
Instead, dig deeper and be consultative. For example:
Jane, following our call we had three unanswered questions. My recommendation is to find time with you and John the CTO so we can work through the technical limitations openly. I will bring along Amie, a technical resource from my end. Our joint availability for a call is [times or calendar link]. Please confirm the time that works for you and I will send an invite."
Make a recommendation based on the information you have and be firm with why. Don't gloss over it or say "I wanted to."
3) You ask over and over, "Does that make sense?"
Asking the question is an easy mistake to make because it comes from a place of innocence. You want to understand that the information was communicated and consumed accurately.
Most of the time, you use, "Does that make sense?" as a transitional phrase. The courteous thing to do is for your prospect to say "yes," so you can move on.
Try asking, "How does that sound to you?" or another phase that doesn't evoke a yes/no response.
4) Your sales process is inconsistent.
There are many different sales processes for moving a deal through a funnel. Pick something simple and stick with it. I write and speak about The Six Gateways of Sales as a simple sales process to move a deal through the funnel.
Trust, unironically, I consider the third gateway.
The point is to be consistent with every prospect. When there are inconsistencies, you tend to get lost with exactly where the deal sits. Not only do you lose track of your prospects' goals, you lose your own.
When you're at a loss, so is your prospect. Sometimes you regather information or become repetitive. These are indicators of a lack of commitment to your process and a slippery slope toward losing trust.
5) Saying "Yes, we can totally do that" to every request.
In Sales is a Science, author Allan Lobeck states that "No" is the most powerful word in sales. I believe it's also the most honest word a rep can use.
I can't overstate the power of being honest about the limitations of your product or service. Saying no actually empowers you as a figure of authority. Because when you're honest about limitations, you prove you're more interested in helping than in selling. What's more, you'll often find your prospects thanking you for your honesty.
Resist the rookie urge to be a "yes wo/man." It's killing your trust and your deals.
6) Sending unpersonalized sales collateral.
By the time your prospect is talking with you, she has already progressed through 57% of the buyer’s journey. In short, she already understands the high-level value of your product/service.
Do not regurgitate what is already available on your website.
If you want to earn the prospect's trust, you need to send helpful collateral. Personalize collateral to your prospect’s buyer persona, industry, and incorporate a case study that captures both.
Modularized sales collateral allows you to compile a proposal or sell sheet fast and on time. It also shows that you put something together that addresses who they are.
7) You say "Thank you" during your calls.
Pete Caputa, VP Sales at HubSpot, says his worst pet peeve is when sales reps say "thank you for your time."
Change the way you think about closing a call. Make it an explicit goal to have your prospect thank you for your time. Resist the urge to say thank you and instead close with, "I'm glad I could be helpful today."
Or, even better, respond with, "You're welcome." Your prospect gave you their time because you were helpful, and they'll continue doing so if you continue to be helpful.
8) You treat your prospect's time as more valuable than yours.
Why is it that consultants get paid for their time by their clients, but not sales reps?
Because clients of consultants respect their time. They are paying for it.
Be on time, helpful, sincere, and don't let transgressions against your time go unnoticed. When a prospect shows up late for a meeting or misses one altogether, there should be a cost. Even if that cost is a simple acknowledgement, don't let it slide. You might feel awkward at first, but push through and be cordial.
When a prospect stops respecting your time, it's an indicator things are going south.
9) Your questions let prospects off the hook too easy.
But not in the way you think. I'm referring to the simple scenario when you ask a question and get a response that seems helpful, when in reality the response is too superficial to help you help your prospect.
For instance, you might ask what the timeline is to solve the problem they are encountering.
A common response from a prospect might be, "Sometime this quarter." The rookie mistake would be to jot this answer down in the CRM as the accurate timeline.
Don't let them off so easy! You'll gain trust as a result. Try instead to follow up with, "Why is the company making a decision this quarter?"
You might get a response like, "Our CEO said that if we don't increase revenue by 15% next quarter, we'll miss our targets."
Now you're getting somewhere. You know that to win the deal and their trust you have to prove your solution can either deliver those results or provide equal value.
It's far too easy to think of the answer to the first question as an adequate response. What ends up happening is that you then use "this quarter," as ammo to pressure the deal to close with your contact. When in reality, you could have built rapport by helping build a case to the CEO.