Given that there are thousands of books on sales, one may think that sales is a complex process. On the contrary, it's fairly simple. Sales is all about gaining people's trust. Yes there is the need to identify qualified prospects, fine-tune your messaging, and connect with them in a way that compels them to think, "I want to learn more." But at the end of the day, every closed sale comes down to trust.
According to Dan Pink, author of "To Sell Is Human," people spend about 40% of their time at work engaged in "non-sales selling" activities including persuading, convincing, and influencing others. Essentially, we spend almost half of our time engaged in activities to move people to action.
Pink identifies the process of "attunement" as being vital to anyone who is trying to move another person to see or act differently. He defines attunement as "the ability to see things from other people's perspective, and act accordingly."
Attunement shouldn't be confused with empathy, which means what others are feeling. While connecting emotionally is certainly important, Pink's research has shown that understanding another's perspective is more important than understanding someone's feelings when trying to move them to action.
I personally have a conversion success rate of almost 100% when qualified prospects talk with me about our services. I emphasize "qualified" because part of my personal process is to qualify prospects in the early parts of our discussion before moving forward.
Here are the 5 components of my formula to gain a prospect's trust.
1: It is always about them. From the moment a prospect calls me, my mindset is always that our potential work together is all about helping them. It's never about benefiting me. I recognize that it may have taken courage to reach out for help, and that a prospect always has choices. They can choose to work with someone else, or they can choose to hire no one. By reaching out to me, they are considering letting me into their inner circle.
2: Our mission ultimately is to help them achieve their mission. Our company mission is to "build, stabilize, and transform corporate cultures to create extraordinary work environments that empower leaders to attract, recruit, and retain top talent." However, the mission behind our mission is ultimately to help our clients achieve their goals.
3: We are committed to delivering what they really need, not what they think they need. One of the reasons our clients come to us is because we have 5 decades of experience doing what they need. So often, what clients think they need is not what they need. It's our job to help them see their total opportunities for growth and transformation, rather than just a band-aid approach to a single pressing issue. It's always difficult to see the picture when we are in the frame. Our objective, non-emotional perspective allows us to see many solutions to challenges that they may not have considered.
4: We add value at every touchpoint along the way, even before the contract is signed. A client recently complained that a prospect that seemed to be a sure bet hasn't signed yet. I suggested they shift their mindset from, "when will they sign the contract?" to "how can I continue to add value?" If a prospect stalls at contract signing, it's rarely about money. It's usually because you haven't clearly demonstrated your value. The dots have not connected for them on why they need you. The burden is always on you to connect those dots. Throughout the entire buying lifecycle, we add value. We demonstrate we are invested in their success, even before contract execution.
5: We make sure the GWC Model applies to us. One of my favorite hiring models is the GWC Model, part of the Entrepreneurial Operating System. Do the candidates Get it, Want it, and have the Capacity to do it? This applies to every consultant/vendor you hire as well.
When we're talking with prospects, we want to reassure them that we really Get what they need. We understand their pain. We have personal experience overcoming their challenge, and/or we've helped many other companies solve similar challenges. We Get it.
We also Want it. We want this work. We want to help our prospect move from current state to desired state. We want to be part of their growth and transformation.
Finally, we have the Capacity to do it. We have the intellectual and emotional capacity. We have the experience, and we have the bandwidth to deliver.
These 5 components all add up to TRUST... the universal aspect to every sale.
Prospects will ask themselves, "Do they care about me more than they care about themselves?" When the answer is yes, then you deserve their business.