How to get prospects to trust you
After sending an online enquiry, I received an instant email from a salesperson introducing himself. Let’s call him Jack. Jack in a software salesperson and an expert in his company’s product. I was working on a new social media strategy at the time and researching options. I was curious about his product and wanted to see if it would assist with the process, I was looking at implementing.
Jack diligently followed up with an email, attachments of features and benefits, links to case studies, demo options and questions about when I wanted to start. I responded to his email by informing him I was only at the beginning of researching social media tools. So not yet.
Two weeks later, my inbox chimed. Jack acknowledged how busy I might be and asked if I was ready to get started. Not yet. Still establishing the plan. The process with the team is taking longer than expected.
A month later, Ian again asked if I was ready to get started. When I saw his email, I deleted it. No reply. Ever again.
It’s a shame, because I might have considered his product.
Not all prospects are ready to buy from you. But knowing how to occupy the mindshare of those people is critical to maintaining a pipeline of prospects and building the long-term value of your company.
Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake Jack made, which was to ask if I was ready to consider his product while repeatedly pushing emails to me. This strategy is ‘me’- focussed. To be frank, I didn’t really care about his product at this early stage of my planning. My concern was getting my strategy and process right first. That’s how your buyers feel. They don’t care about you or your product, they care about themselves. So your objective with prospects should be to build relationships, build trust, and be of value, because people only do business with people they know, like and trust. Here are ten proven ways to help you do just that.
1. Build your dream list
Make a dream list of your top twenty prospects that you’d like to have as your customers. Think of ways to add genuine value to their lives. Once you have your dream list, review it daily, plan and ask yourself, “how can I help, inform and serve these people today?
Sales expert Barb Giamanco’s says, “Appropriate rapport will happen when your sales approach and messaging are focused on what the buyer cares about and NOT what you want to pitch or demo. This is the definition of rapport – “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.” What the buyer wants is for salespeople to demonstrate that they can help them solve their business problems. You don’t build rapport with someone you don’t know with a pitch or an offer to do a product demo. It is that simple.”
2. Socialise, genuinely
Follow the people on your dream list and their organisations on Twitter, LinkedIn or any other platforms they’re using. Engage with them in a meaningful and genuine way.
Interacting on social media also allows salespeople to build up little bits of rapport to nudge a prospect towards engaging with you. Start following and engaging them online. The whole point to social media is to get people to talk to you. So, talk to them! Take time to comment and offer your thoughts on the content posted by your targeted prospects. Recognize their interesting insights. You’re showing them what you care about and you’re adding social proof to the value of their posts.
3. Show respect for their inbox
Instead of bombarding your dream list’s inbox with stuff about you, share insight that might help them or their business. Set up Google Alerts for your prospect’s company, or any major interests they might have. Invest some time each day sifting through this resource. When you find an article or insight someone from your list might find relevant or useful, share it, explaining why it might be of interest. Be careful with this tip; if you send too many emails, they’ll switch off after a while.
So, if you don’t get a reply to your emails or phone calls or any contact methods, they’re still hearing from you from time to time – they can start up communications again when they’re ready
4. Make them stand out
Following on from the last tip, you could also use your new content aggregation to sift through and think of ideas that might help prospects. Instead of asking me to just look at his product Jack could have pointed me to content to help me with my social strategy. I would have been thrilled. Sharing ideas shows prospective customers you’re genuine and trying to help them, which builds trust while waving the magic wand of reciprocity. It’s all about the client, not you.
Working from content posted by your top-twenty picks, you can also review and share their best material with your friends and colleagues online. You are helping your prospect when you do this because you’re amplifying their message—which is another big reason why they’re online in the first place.
5. Connect people
When you regularly think of your dream list, you will find yourself meeting people you could connect them to. To avoid any awkward connections, first ask yourself is the connection useful to both parties? If it’s not, then don’t do it. When you think of a good reason both parties could benefit from the connection, explain to both parties why you think an introduction might bring value to them and whether they would like you to make the intro. Only when both parties are interested should you make the introduction.
6. Celebrate their success
If you have gathered information as a result of striking up great rapport and a relationship don’t miss an opportunity to celebrate or acknowledge any good news, promotions or wins. Celebrate their success and be genuine about it.
7. Think outside the box
Jack the salesperson knew I was in the thick of establishing my social media strategy with some team challenges along the way. Had he communicated something like, “Hey Fay, many of our clients are in the same position as you and I know how complicated and stressful it is. Thought you might find this document useful, giving you step-by-step how to get your team working towards a common goal. Hope it helps, Jack.” I would have appreciated the relevance and the fact that he could relate to my circumstances.
So, think back to your previous conversations with dream listers. Do any problems spring to mind? Can you anticipate challenges they might have? Maybe they’re having a hiring or supplier problem, or a personal issue you might be able to solve? Sales is about problem solving, not just the specific problems your product solves, but also exploring ways to make people’s lives easier.
8. Know when to walk away
You can’t win them all, and that’s okay. It is important that salespeople know when to walk away. The old adage “don’t take no for an answer” is a formula for disaster. If it’s not a fit for the customer, you’ll end up doing your company and brand more harm than good. If they simply aren’t interested and you continue to press the topic, you’ve entered the threshold of stalker just like Jack.
9. Don’t take it personally.
One of the benefits of not taking things personally is that you’re showing the prospect that it’s not about the sale, it’s about the relationship. If your solution is not the best for them, make sure it’s clear that you’re okay with that, and what you truly want for them is that they get what they need. Even if you truly, genuinely, believe with all your heart that your product is the right one for them, and they go elsewhere and they’re going to be disappointed, it’s still their choice. Allow them to make it at their own pace, on their own time. Just patiently stay in touch until they do make the decision.
10. Stay in touch even if they do say no.
Even prospects who have given you a clear ‘no’ may still be happy to hear from you. Keep looking for ways to help them, keep providing helpful and relevant information, and keep listening to the hints. It could be that someone who said no today could change their mind again six months or six years down the road. This is the power of the long term follow up: if they should have listened to you, but didn’t, and you are still kind and helpful and supportive with the decision they made, you may well be the first person they think of later on down the line.
According to Stanford University 85% of sales are made after the fifth meeting with a prospect, yet 95% of salespeople have given up by then. Why do they give up so soon? Because the bottom 95% of sales people don’t understand how to build genuine trust and rapport with prospects. It’s a fine line between persistence and stalking. You’ll never get it absolutely perfect, but the key is to be yourself, be friendly and personable, and balance your follow up with a real-world understanding of the fact that nothing in our lives and businesses go perfectly to plan.