Tag: trusted adviser

Six Ways To Gain Credibility

Six Ways To Gain Credibility

I have spoken of trust, honesty, and credibility before. When you understand that you sell three things:

  1. Your product.
  2. Your company.
  3. Yourself.

In nearly every sale, you probably have a competitive product that is very close to the same features and benefits as your product. You rarely have a massive competitive advantage in your product. Also, it is very rare that the quality of your employer is so much better than your competitor that it is the deciding factor in the decision-making process by the prospect. Alas, it is usually the salesperson and the sales team that makes the most difference to the prospect. Does the prospect trust you? Does the prospect think you are honest? Are you a credible vendor to the prospect?

John Care is a good friend of mine that has published two books and runs a consulting company that helps technical sales teams. One of his books is titled The Trusted Adviser Sales Engineer. The very description “trusted adviser” is the cornerstone of making sure that the third item that you sell (you) is the best that it can be. While John’s book is targeted to Sales Engineers, every person on the sales team can learn from his words of wisdom. I have recreated a couple of paragraphs from John’s book and also his six ways to gain credibility.

“What makes a customer actually trust you? It is much more than your technical knowledge and capabilities, as those are the basic table stakes that customers expect of any [salesperson] with. For [a salesperson], it is a combination of honoring your commitments, speaking the truth, and acting in the best interests of the customer – even if that may occasionally conflict with the best interests of your own company.”

“The downside is that once [a salesperson] loses credibility with a customer it can be very difficult to regain it. Giving vague or misleading answers to a question or being factually incorrect are classic examples of this.”

  1. Tell The Truth. Always. Plus, you get the benefit of never having to remember what you said!
  2. Be Considerate With That Truth. Younger [salespeople] can sometimes be too blunt – directly saying, “that is never going to work!” to your client may not be the best approach.
  3. Use I Don’t Know Wisely. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so, and then promise to go get it for the customer . Don’t make stuff up! You can only do this a few times in a meeting – excessive “don’t knows” shows that someone is in the wrong meeting.
  4. Show Passion. Show some passion and enthusiasm for your product/ solution/services and for helping the customer. Do relax and take a breather so you don’t speak too quickly from an adrenaline high.
  5. Utilize Your Credentials. It’s OK to cite your credentials, but don’t overdo it and do make it relevant. So yes – you can put CISSP, ITIL or vExpert on your business card and eSignature, but just use one. A raft of acronyms after your name is excessive. (Note: “MBA” isn’t going to make much difference in most countries. ) Also, be sensitive to cultures – it is much better for someone else to cite your credentials in many parts of the world than to use the US testosterone “in-your-face” approach.
  6. Do The Research. Know as much as feasible about the company, their issues, and the people that you meet. Just saying “I read that article in the Straits Times yesterday” can really help – as long as you actually did read it!

You can purchase John’s book wherever books are sold. I suggest that all my readers get a copy and read it, regardless of your role in the sales process

 

 

Care, John. The Trusted Advisor Sales Engineer (Kindle Locations 266-270). Mastering Technical Sales. Kindle Edition.

Care, John. The Trusted Advisor Sales Engineer (Kindle Locations 412-414). Mastering Technical Sales. Kindle Edition.

Care, John. The Trusted Advisor Sales Engineer (Kindle Locations 422-444). Mastering Technical Sales. Kindle Edition.

 

Does your prospect trust you, your company, and your product?

Does your prospect trust you, your company, and your product?

More than your understanding of your customer’s needs and goals, your top priority in sales is to have your prospect trust you. In fact, your prospect needs to do more than just trust you personally – your prospect needs to trust you, your company, and your product.

It is possible that generating trust is the most important thing that you need to deliver. Let’s face it; you already believe that the combination of you, your company, and your product is a superior offering to your competitor, your competitor’s company, and your competitor’s product. You need to convince your prospect that they should trust your opinion that your trifecta of the three is superior to all of your competitors.

This is not easy. You may have to go to great lengths to engender that trust. You may have to prove the financial stability of your company. You may need to prove that your company has excellent support. You may have to prove the applicability of your product to your prospect’s needs. There is almost no end to the number of things you may have to prove to your prospect.

What you definitely do not want to spend too much time on is that you are a trustworthy person.

It is easy to undermine that you provide value. Proving that you are not a liar is not easy. For you to show that you are not a jerk can seem easy, but in reality is difficult to do. It only takes one slip up to destroy your credibility. All you have to do is:

  • Tell one lie.
  • Offer one misleading truth.
  • Exaggerate just once.
  • Make one inappropriate comment.
  • Look unkept and disheveled once.
  • Miss one commitment.

That is all it takes. One slip up and you could be relegated entirely to untrustworthiness. It is simple. It is easy. You screwed up, and now you depend on your product and your company to beat out your competitor’s trifecta of his company, product, and salesperson. This reputational damage is a huge disadvantage. Your inability to engender trust in yourself puts your entire sales effort at risk.

Being a salesperson is extremely difficult, and this is one one of the biggest reasons for failure. You blew it. You proved that you were not trustworthy. Sure you can blame your company, your product, or your prospect, but in reality, it is your fault. You were not on your best behavior at all times. You may not even have noticed that the prospect stopped trusting you. Most of our prospects are just too polite to tell you that they question your trustworthiness.

How do you fix this problem? Simple. DON’T!!!!! Don’t put yourself in the position of not being trustworthy. Don’t allow the prospect to think that you are not fantastic.

  • Don’t ever lie.
  • Don’t ever tell a misleading truth.
  • Don’t exaggerate.
  • Don’t ever make an inappropriate comment.
  • Don’t look disheveled.
  • Don’t break a commitment.

You should ALWAYS be on your best behavior. Don’t screw up. Yes, this is hard, but it is the easiest way to fail as a salesperson. Destroying your reputation with the prospect is the easiest way for you to eliminate yourself from consideration and not to eliminate your competition.

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Is it unethical to change the configuration? Dilbert thinks so!

Is it unethical to change the configuration? Dilbert thinks so!

Is it unethical to change the configuration of a solution to ensure that a customer has a greater chance to be a success?

Dilbert is describing a common problem. Customers often think that an unethical salesperson is leaving things off of a bid to win the deal. The unethical strategy is to update the configuration or deployment after winning the order. This updated configuration is more expensive than the original bid, but the customer will not be successful without it.

While it is convenient to make fun of unethical salespeople for this problem, it is not always the salesperson’s fault. Frequently, it is the prospect that wrote an unrealistic or unworkable request. In this case, the lack of knowledge of the prospect significantly contributes the problem. The prospect refuses to take good advice from the professional salesperson and then complains when the salesperson refuses to accept a bad configuration for the order.

There is an old adage that the customer is always right. Unfortunately, in the world of B2B sales, the customer rarely is correct. The customer simply is not educated enough in the technology or market of the product being evaluated. In contrast, the salesperson is a professional and has gone through this process dozens if not hundreds of times. While I am not suggesting that the customer sit back and let the salesperson run amok, it may be better than an uneducated prospect leading the way.

The best solution is that the prospect learns to trust the professional and ethical salesperson. Dilbert is not the trusting sort, so I am not surprised that the salesperson took advantage of him. This lack of trust is unfortunate as sales professionals have a great deal of wisdom to offer a prospect.

While it is unethical to intentionally leave off required additional configuration items just to be the lowest priced proposal, few professional salespeople will use that strategy. Instead, it is usually a case of giving the prospect the configuration that is requested. If the salesperson tries to do the right thing, the competition may undercut the price. A much wiser approach is for the Dilberts of the world to work with their professional salesperson to make sure the request is complete and, therefore, the configuration is correct.