Establishing Credibility


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In prospecting, one of the most important and difficult things to do is establishing credibility.  But without this, moving forward, trying to get any type of engagement is impossible.

Too often, sales people are oblivious to this—this applies to the really bad sales people who don’t deserve to be selling.  Or they do a really poor job establishing credibility, this applies mostly to mediocre sales people.

The challenge is, how do we establish credibility-or at least enough to get the customer to respond?

The classic mistake sales people make in thinking about establishing credibility, is “We have to talk about ourselves, our company, and our product to establish credibility.”

As a result, we see prospecting emails or phone calls that are all about us–who I am.  “I’m a fantastic guy, you should really be interested in talking to me, I have years of experience, I’ve been assigned to your account…”

Probably this is closely followed by, “Our company is a world leader in, We are the best at, We are humongous with all these revenues……”

Probably closely followed by, “We make these really cool products, They are the best in the world, We are the known innovator, We received these awards.”

You probably recognize the formulaic approach.  A variation of this is in every prospecting email, every prospecting phone call.  Often, the company’s collateral follows at least the last two parts of this.  And, if by some chance, you invited them to propose a solution, the first 80% of the presentation focuses on these three issues.

All in the misguided view that to establish credibility, we have to prove ourselves, focusing on who we are, who our company is, and what we sell.

People who do this, leave it to the customer to connect the dots on whether it has any meaning to them.

Great sales people know that establishing credibility is completely different.  Simultaneously, it has virtually nothing to do about them, their company, their products, but at the same time it is all about them–but in a very different way.

Great sales people establish their credibility by demonstrating their knowledge of the customer–the enterprise and the individual, the issues they are facing or likely to be facing.  They engage by asking about the customer’s business, sharing relevant stories and data about critical business issues.  Their credibility is cemented when the customer thinks, “They really know their stuff, they know about us, they care.”

All this happens before a product is ever mentioned.

Great sales people also know the other things they must do to establish credibility.

They have a strong LinkedIn profile.  They know one of the first things a customer might do is look at their profile.

Likewise, they do their research on the customer–individuals and enterprises, before the initial contact.

They don’t rush the process, though they always have a high sense of urgency.  They recognize, that until the customer views them as credible, the customer won’t engage at the level they should.  They may talk to you, but they are wary or apprehensive.

Great sales people focus on their personal credibility and don’t rely on their organizational credibility.  They know this is important because people buy from people.

Mediocre sales people have to rely on the credibility of the company they work for, because their ability to establish personal credibility isn’t great.

Great sales people know they have to continue to reinforce and build their credibility with the customer, becoming trusted.  They know they never can violate that trust.

Mediocre sales people think the credibility lies in their company and their products.  This is why they continue to focus on pitching their company and products.

But mediocre sales people are forever disadvantaged by the sales person that has established great personal credibility and value to the customer.

What are you doing to establish and reinforce your credibility with every customer engagement?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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