Perception isn’t Everything…but it’s pretty close

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what your customers and prospects are saying about you? Do you think it really matters? How about your co-workers? Does their perception of you matter? Does it affect your level of success?

Many experts think it most certainly does. In his program “Relationship Selling,” my friend Brian Tracy talks about what actual customers say about top sales professionals that they deal with.

Some of the comments included are:

·       “It seems like he works for me”

·       “She’s like an unpaid member of my own staff”

·       “I think of him as a consultant, a friend, an advisor”

·       “She really understands my situation”

Brian goes on to say that risk is a key variable in modern selling. It is very important to establish trust in the sales process because trust reduces risk in the customer’s mind and makes them more likely to buy your product or service.

Value-added sales expert Don Hutson once told me that “trust and stress are inversely proportional in business relationships…” I look at that statement from a couple of angles. First, you can build trust by forming a relationship with a prospect by doing what you say you will do every time. This reduces stress and makes the prospect more likely to buy from you. Second, you can reduce your prospect’s stress by clearly presenting solutions to their business problems which will, in turn, build trust, which will reduce the perception of risk.

Building quality relationships with prospects and customers (even internal customers) is one of the best ways to keep them and turn them into clients. Building the relationship starts with the very first meeting. Top salespeople ask well-prepared questions and then listen attentively for the answer. They then ask questions for clarification, sometimes just feeding back much of the information given to them in discussion to demonstrate understanding.  A common mistake made by those, not on the list of top sales professionals is interrupting. If you don’t let the prospect finish their sentence or thought, or if you often try to finish it for them, credibility and trust is harder to gain.

Also, the key to building relationships is follow up. Follow up on the first call with an e-mail or note. Follow up on a sale with an appropriate “thank you.” And follow up 30 to 90 days later to see how they are doing with the product or service you have provided.

The bottom line: if you are perceived as someone who can be trusted to do what you say you will do, you will reduce the stress and the perceived risk in a purchase or project, and you will reinforce your status as a top sales professional or be well on your way to becoming one.

~ Jerry Cox President of Brainier