Holding on Too Tight
and at the Same Time Pushing Clients Away
Selling is a human experience and a personal interaction. Selling is dehumanized by overusing email, technology, logical facts and figures and features and benefits.
Most sales people try to create trust and relationships through the credibility of their offering. Once you realize that customers buy intuitively and not intellectually, you'll see the futility in this conventional sales strategy. "People will buy from you based on how they feel about you and your product, not what they think about you," says Lou Cassara.
A key component to building relationships and trust is taking a long-term view instead of a short-term transactional view. When you take a long-term view with your customer you come to the table empty-handed and with a blank slate, and you allow yourself to be open to what you don't know or truly don't understand. Understanding is one of the most important foundations of trust. If customers won't let you understand them, then they don't trust you or your insight.
"The first thing buyers do when you try to sell them is assess the risk of doing business with you. The number one reason buyers don't purchase from you is; their perception of the risk of doing business with you is greater than their perception of your personal credibility," says Craig Elias. The way most sales people sell fits perfectly into the fears and suspicions of customers; buyer beware, warning this sales person can't be trusted.
"Customers buy in a two step process; screening and selection. Screening is basically rational, selection is heavily non-rational," says Charles Green. Customers really value trust (non-rational) over the attributes of your offering (rational). Yet sales people sell the latter to their detriment.
Sales people should position themselves for trust instead of positioning themselves for solution fulfillment and solution expertise. Case in point, customers buy emotionally and trust is the most powerful emotion. There's little emotion in the attributes of a product.
"The only way to build trust is to let go of your need to be perfect and invulnerable, that is, to actually allow yourself to be vulnerable. Embrace your humility to build trust," says Keith Rosen. As in general life, intimacy is impossible without being willing to be vulnerable with your partner. Likewise in sales relationships.
The greatest vulnerability for a customer is revealing problems. The greatest vulnerability for sales people is revealing the pros and cons of their offering and giving customers a realistic and objective assessment if changes is in their best interest. Don't ever miss the opportunity to express this sentiment and position trust thru your questioning strategy.
"What does it take to be invulnerable. Vulnerability. Risk losing face and being imperfect and others will be inclined to take the same risks. Vulnerability is being authentic and humble," says Keith Rosen. You build trust and demonstrate humility and vulnerability when you ask unbiased and balanced questions.
"New York Times Magazine reports research that shows happiness is based on our skill and application of questions. The happiest people were active questioners. Questions create curiosity and intimacy which in turns creates understanding and a basis for trusting relationships," says Russ Granger. The same could be said about success in selling, which is all about trust, asking questions to create understanding and intimacy and building strong relationships.