Having the right approach in sales is critical for running a successful business—it’s not just about providing a great service and a great product, but it takes building and keeping customer trust.
Customers are busier with access to more information and choices than customers 50 years ago, but no matter the decade, they want honesty and transparency. Getting their time and attention takes work, so a company’s sales team needs to have the tactics in place that draw in, not push customers away.
Customers often have sales call reluctance, disliking it when sellers try to sell them something. Framing the call or in-person visit as a sales conversation adds that human element of give-and-take and interpersonal connection instead of a sales pitch that becomes one-sided. Authentic communication with active listening and real stories and expression helps develop trust between buyer and seller.
The sales team may feel pressured to meet quotas, but bullying and manipulating potential customers into buying what they don’t want or need has its short-term benefits—a quick sale—but fails to make a lasting impression. A 2015 American Marketing Association (AMA) survey identified several behaviors customers dislike from sellers, including being too pushy, not taking “no” for an answer, using meaningless sales jargon and employing bait-and-switch practices, all of which diminish trust.
Instead, sellers should focus on building trust, which not only leads to closing sales, but to lasting trusted customer relationships. The benefits include customer loyalty and advocacy, increased referrals, increased sales, increased exposure and greater credibility.
To build that trust, sellers can take several steps:
- Be a Good Listener: Employ needs discovery, learning about the buyers’ wants and desires and how best to help them. Find out the following: What is the problem? What is standing in the way of the problem? And what are some solutions? According to the Sales Benchmark Index, a sale done without needs discovery is 73 percent less likely to successfully close.
- Be Prepared: Buyers don’t trust sellers who lack competence and fail to know their stuff. Research and learn about the company’s customers, competitors and the industries they serve, positioning yourself as the expert. Be able to answer questions about what you offer and what is involved in the buying process. Make your business the go-to information source.
- Be Capable: Demonstrate the ability to do what you claim to be able to do, not only to build trust in the product or service but in you, the seller. Buyers want to know that you can help them find solutions to their problems and give them sound advice.
- Be Consistent: Establish a steady pattern of consistency, making sure actions reflect what is said, promises are fulfilled and commitments are honored. Buyers trust sellers who show up and honor their commitments, setting clear expectations of how they conduct business.
- Be Authentic: Don’t fake trustworthiness or try to manipulate the customer into making a purchase. If it’s in the best interest of the buyer or the product isn’t a fit, sellers act authentically when they suggest an alternative, and maybe less profitable, solution or refer business elsewhere.
- Be Honest: Tell the truth and be transparent, providing the information the customer needs to be well informed about your product or service. Avoid the temptation of leaving out important details and making promises that can’t be kept to make the sale. Customers nowadays can verify credibility at Better Business Bureau’s website, bbb.org, and learn about ethical business practices at BBB’s Code of Business Practices.
BBB encourages sellers to work on building trust as an important part of the sales equation, because customers like to buy from those they like, know and trust.