Do Your New Prospects Trust You?

By Steve McClatchy, President
Alleer Training & Consulting

Do you remember the Budweiser “Wazzzzuuuup” commercials?  They are a couple of years old now but their impact has not gone away.  I hear friends, family members and even colleagues still use this greeting when they see each other.  Why has this phrase hung around for so long?  In one word–trust.  These commercials portrayed very real, very authentic, very down to earth communication between very close friends.  In fact the conversations between friends was so high in trust in these commercials they made you smile when you saw them.  Trust plays such a key role in all of our communications and is at the heart of whether a relationship is productive or not.

I just heard the “Wazzzzuuuup” greeting used again recently and its had me thinking about the relationship between trust and its role in cold calling and new business development and here are some of my thoughts.

Wouldn’t it be great if when trying to develop new business we could just pick up the phone with new prospects and say “Wazzzuuupp?”  Following this of course the new client on the other end of the phone would begin telling us all about their needs and the ways that we could be of help to them.  In this television cold calling scenario you would of course have the perfect solution to their problem and the commercial would end with you and the client sharing a drink.  Why doesn’t this happen?  So many organizations have information; advice and services that could help other organizations succeed.  Why then is this process of introducing these resources so difficult and dysfunctional?

The truth of the matter is that there are many organizations and individuals out there just trying to make a buck and there are no boundaries to the techniques they will use to take your money.  We’ve all been scammed and when we are scammed we don’t take it lightly.  When it happens we make a little mental note that next time we will ask more questions, that next time we won’t trust until we feel trust has been earned and finally we commit to ourselves that it won’t happen again.  So what steps do we need to take and what things can we do to build trust and credibility with our new prospective customers?

The first thing we need to do is be authentic.  No one likes dealing with a phony.  If you can’t talk about the value of your products and services in a normal conversational tone using normal conversational language then you can count on new business development always being a difficult process.  I know what your thinking and yes, the executive level likes to talk using normal conversational language about their needs.  They may not greet you with “Wazzzuuupp” but the more open, conversational and friendly you are the better your chances of finding out their needs.  If you really want to get the relationship off to a great start talk to people like they are people and leave the marketing language for the focus groups.

Here are a few more suggestions on ways you can improve the trust you build in the new account development process…

Change The Way You See Cold Calling And New Account Development:  Cold calling, networking and new account development are necessary parts of every sales job.  But seeing cold calling a little differently will not only help you to be more successful but it will help you to do it more often.  Those that see cold calling as an unnecessary interruption and an annoyance to their customers are right.  Those that see it, as an opportunity for their customers to find help to problems and issues they have been facing will be right as well.  Seeing cold calling as an offering of help can help you to handle the rejection better and can significantly improve your results.

Know What You Do:  Too many sales people have been trained not to reveal what it is they do for their clients.  In this age of “total solution providers” everybody is trying to be everything to everyone and buyers are frustrated.  Forget what your company is telling you to say and present the value of your services the way you would like to have it presented to you.  You’ll not only find that customers will want to talk to you they will also want to buy.

And What You Don’t:  If you want both short and long-term success in sales know what you cannot do for your clients and let them know.  Nothing builds trust faster then speaking with someone who understands his or her limitations.  Trying to be everything to everybody can make you nothing to anyone really fast.

Throw It Back:   The moment you have been waiting for… “So what does your company do”  This does not give you permission to bore your clients for the next half hour.  When a client asks what you do you better know and it better be quick.  People ask me how quick and I tell them that you have about 6 seconds before your customer starts drawing conclusions.  To demonstrate your motive of wanting to help your customers have your 6 second pitch ready and then ask if they have any interest in that area.  If they do then let the dialog begin, if not then you saved you and them a lot of precious time.

Ask One Question At A Time:  When you ask a good question wait for the answer. Nobody likes to be asked 5 questions at the same time or even worse the same question 5 different ways.  If there is silence after you ask a question, congratulations you have asked a good one. You now have the client thinking. Don’t ruin it by interrupting, stay focused and attentive and get ready to take some good notes.

Ask What Rather Than Why:  If you want to take your sales skills to the next level ask more what questions rather than why.  What questions are questions that get us more information and data.  Without the right information and data our chances of succeeding go way down.  Instead of asking why they want a solution ask what issues in their business they are trying to resolve?  Instead of asking why now is a good time for the solution ask what has stopped the organization from addressing these issues before now?  Asking what questions will seem uncomfortable at first but they are the questions that separate the good from the great.

Get Out Of The Way Of The Sale:  People love to buy so let them.  I have seen so many sales people lose a sale because they came between the customer and the product or service they were selling.  This is exactly the opposite of what they were hired to do.  Instead of helping they end up hurting.  They are so worried about meeting their own needs they don’t have time for the needs of the client.  Little things like good listening skills, courtesy, friendliness and respect are basics to be in the sales profession. Check your ego and let the customer buy because it’s their idea and not yours.

Ask Great Questions:  What are great questions?  Asking where they live or if they have kids are great to break the ice but they do not fall into the category of great questions.  Great questions are questions that come from putting yourself in your client’s shoes.  They are questions that come to you when you are thinking about the problem or opportunity as if you were the client.  Have they considered doing it themselves?  Given their need or constraint should they be considering one of your competitors?  What has stopped them from addressing these issues before now?   Have they considered doing nothing at all?  A great question depends on the situation and the circumstances and is driven by a motive of wanting to provide your client with a successful solution not just make a sale. When you ask a question that demonstrates that you are working on your client’s agenda and not your own you have asked a great question.

Help Make Your Clients Money – Psychologists say there are two forms of human motivation, the move toward gain or the move away from pain.  Sometimes it’s a mix of the two.  You guessed it, in business gain is money and pain is the loss of it.  If a company fails to make money they will fail to stay in business.  Wall Street and investors are not interested in companies that had great intentions of succeeding.  They are interested in companies that can add value and turn a profit.  This cuts right to the chase.  If you cannot demonstrate to your customer how your product or service will make them money or prevent the loss of it you are a waste of their time.

Check Your Motive – If your questions have a motive of discovery and help you will find that you will be able to ask any question you would like.  If you are there to put money in your own pocket you will not ask the questions that will add the most value and without the right questions you will not get the right information and without the right information your chances of succeeding are slim.