Everyone is selling something these days. Professional athletes, TikTok influencers, and even your local Girl Scout troop 🍪 are all offering something to prospective buyers—and each is looking for a way to improve their efforts. But while some may focus on an advertising stunt, or a clever approach, the key to successful sales is understanding the importance of relationships. And relationships come through building trust—with research, honesty, and practice. Here are eight ways to build that trust, and ultimately improve your skills as a sales professional.
1. Identify Your Target Audience
In sales, time is money. And nothing wastes more money than spending time selling to the wrong prospects. For this reason, it’s important to identify which industries and businesses can—and will— benefit from your services BEFORE setting up a meeting. Doing so will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your efforts (since you’ll be spending your time pitching products and services to people with a vested interest in their potential).
2. Do Your Research
Research is one of the most important steps in sales—but the process involves more than simply identifying which broad swath of the business world is best suited for your services. Each potential customer you meet has specific needs, interests, concerns, restrictions, and authority—and acknowledging each of these characteristics prior to a sales pitch can help determine how to approach a sale. Managers, for example, will be more interested in budgets. Do-ers, reporting to management, will need fodder to justify the purchase to higher-ups. Know your customer and their circumstances, and use that knowledge to your advantage.
3. Get Comfortable
You might have the most in-depth information on your target, and an optimal understanding of what to pitch...but your face-to-face demeanor still has the potential to make or break a sale. It's time to get comfortable. Consider gleaning experience from the field and seek out a successful mentor to help demystify the process. The onus of conversation lies with you—and your comfort level will ultimately determine the tone, and success rate, of your efforts.
4. Never Assume
Beware the sales curse of knowledge: building a treasury of foreknowledge and confidence prior to meeting a new customer, only to fall into the trap of "knowing better" than the people you're talking to. This includes assuming that you know what they need, and what they’re willing to pay for your product. It's not only off-putting, it cuts the conversation off before it even begins. Every customer is new, and each person brings a different mindset into the conversation. Asking questions and getting to know your prospects will help tailor your pitch appropriately, and avoid the pratfall of arrogance.
5. Build Relationships
In approaching each client with a blank slate and listening to their needs, you accomplish two things:
- You prevent the tendency to make assumptions.
- You build relationships.
If customers wanted information from a spreadsheet, they’d look at a spreadsheet. They’re meeting with you for your ability to humanize the sales process—and provide a better, more empathetic explanation of the benefits. Asking questions, listening, and building trust will not only make them feel better, but improve the integrity and effectiveness of your pitch.
6. Be Sincere
Sincere interactions with customers are extremely transparent. Businesses wary of snake-oil salesmen have long since developed calluses to insincerity and ostentatious attempts to "help." For that reason, being a human being (read: a sincere human being) will break down barriers—and let your client know that you genuinely care about the outcome of their purchase. Focus on being honest, not lying about facts or coloring the truth. Use plain language and a genuine approach to explain your product, and put it in a realistic context.
7. Talk Money
Frankly, the context most customers are interested in is cost. Not opportunity cost or time cost, but $$$ dollars. Those running a business have a constant eye on the balance sheet and, even if you don’t bring it up, will likely have thoughts on the budget as you deliver your pitch. So, alleviate that barrier to entry by identifying the cost of your product. Talk about matters in terms of real dollars and cents. This may seem counter-intuitive, but putting the price in front of the customer actually reduces the cognitive burden associated with fear and uncertainty—and opens the door to better trust and better conversion.
8. Use Technology
Technology is increasingly embedded in every business. Those interested in improving sales success know the right investments in technology is key. Modus was introduced in August of 2011 as the first platform to provide companies a simple, cost effective sales app. We have since grown as a company and expanded our capabilities, continually adding valuable functionality while maintaining ease of use. Today, Modus services thousands of registered users across hundreds of companies doing business around the world.
In the world of B2B sales, trust is king. Building relationships through sincerity and open discussion will benefit both sellers and buyers. There may not be a fool-proof system for sales, but understanding the process on a human level will improve your skills and set you apart from the competition with prospective customers.