“If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.” -Zig Ziglar
Research consistently proves the first major buying decision every customer makes, during every single sales interaction, is not about the product, the company or the price. It is about the salesperson. Simply put, the customers need to “buy” you before they will buy your product. A huge part of this is establishing trust right from the very first interaction.
One of the fundamental challenges in building a sense of trust in a selling situation is to demonstrate you are someone with whom customers want to do business. This can’t be done by sharing your life story, bragging about your resume, or listing the many reasons why you like the product. Remember, it is not about you! It is always about the needs of the customer.
True sales pros know the best way to sell is to get to know the customers and find out what they need. This is done by asking the right open ended questions and really listening to the answers. Asking questions helps you understand the customer’s needs and the issues behind those needs. Then you ask more questions to double-check your understanding and to gain agreement with the customer on what those needs really are.
By doing so you demonstrate a sincere interest in the customer as a person and not just a sale. It also shows you truly want to understand whether or not your project is the best fit. You make a stronger connection. You show that you care. You gain trust. You stand out from the competition.
Asking open ended questions that are skillfully phrased and sequenced can help present how much you know while showing you how much you care. Here are some examples we have used when working with sales professionals who have clients making personal, big ticket investments like new homes, high end remodeling, or luxury interior design/furniture:
- Upon initial contact, instead of asking “Do you have any questions?” try “How can I help you get the most from your visit today?” This helps establish you are working on the customer’s agenda rather than your own and opens the door to a wealth of information you can refer back to later in the process.
- Instead of “What’s your time frame?” I recommend “What, if anything, is affecting your time frame for making a decision?” The second open-ended question gives me far more valuable information and frankly keeps the customer from backing you into a specific date you may or may not be able to meet.
- Instead of “Are you ready to make a purchase today?” try “What has you looking for a new _____________ at this time?” Knowing the catalyst for the purchase can help stream line your entire approach. This is question they are not going to get from other sales people and will really set you apart.
Take a good hard look at the questions you are asking and see if they are moving you and your clients forward in the process by establishing rapport and creating trust. Customers are always more likely to purchase from sales people they like and trust. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”