Traveling the globe delivering B2B sales training sounds like an exciting life. Indeed at times it is; however, there are times the life of a sales trainer or consultant is not so glamorous.
Recently while sitting in a hotel room in Providence I decided to watch some television. I was brain-dead from talking the entire day with my client about improving sales performance, and it was time for some amusement—it was time to watch The Family Feud!
During this show the contestants are asked to guess the results of various surveys. The following question grabbed my attention, “100 people were surveyed and asked the following question; name the profession you trust the least.” Here were the top four answers:
- Lawyer 38%
- Politician 29%
- Salesperson 28%
- Banker 5%
Yikes—salespeople scored almost as low as politicians.
Granted, this was not a scientific survey, but 100 people in a survey base provides a decent amount of statistical reliability to these results. Additionally, these results did not surprise me. I know how I react when a salesperson enters my life uninvited and ready to sell… sell… sell!
Generally speaking, my initial reaction to people I don’t know is usually wait-and-see—after all human nature tells us not to trust people we don’t know and salespeople are people. Tack on the fact that I’ve been screwed over by fast talking salespeople in the past and this makes me less than eager to engage salespeople even if I need to purchase something. Perhaps this is why I send my wife to purchase cars for our family. I don’t really care what I drive, and I don’t really want the abuse.
Sales Happen When Relationship Tension is Reduced
The fact people don’t trust a salesperson hurts me because I’ve been in sales for over twenty-five years, and now I train salespeople. I believe sales happen when salespeople reduce relationship tension as a result of establishing trust and communicating value.
How to Help Salespeople Build Trust
High levels of relationship tension hinder the sales process. Check out this formula:
Relationship Tension high = Closed behavior = No needs sharing = Obstructed sales process!
The best salespeople are well aware of relationship tension and take the following steps to establish trust and value to reduce it:
- Communicate empathy
- Communicate expertise — perhaps share success stories from other satisfied customers
- Use a valid business reason to set the initial meeting that communicates why the customer should want the appointment (not why the seller wants it)
- Use a personal marketing resume (PMR) early in the relationship—a PMR is an instrument (brochure, digital, video or audio) that communicates important information about the seller
- Begin the initial meeting with some tactics specifically designed to reduce relationship tension:
- Rapport building conversation about the person
- Review a PMR
- Restate the valid business reason
- Cleary state the purpose of the meeting
- Discuss the expectations of the meeting (the sellers and the customers)
- Review the agenda of the meeting
Sellers reduce relationship tension when they follow these steps—they also change the formula: