A few days ago I read an article that likened the first time a sales rep meets a prospect to a 30-second commercial. The rep either makes an impact, adds value, and engages the customer … or the buyer changes the channel and sees what else is on.
To avoid screwing up your precious 30 seconds, we put together a list of five things every sales rep can do to quickly establish credibility with prospects.
1) Be Authentic
Being human — that is to say, authentic and honest — is crucial. As Bernardo Tirado, an industrial psychologist, points out, being authentic is the key to developing rapport, and “people can sense a phony a mile away.”
During the buying process, you’re going to ask your prospect some questions they might not have an answer to. They’re going to do the same to you. If you’re truly unsure of the answer, go ahead and say so. This gives you the chance to dive into a question, research the answer, and follow up with the prospect — boosting both your authenticity and credibility.
2) Be Punctual
In a recent poll, 15 to 20% of the American population is “consistently” late, especially when it comes to work. Today’s customers have come to expect punctuality, as they should. Nobody wants to take time out of their day and have to wait.
If punctuality is a challenge for you, you might consider using a calendar service like Google Calendar. It can be synced with your phone, and will send you reminders to stay on top of all your meetings. You can choose to get an alert 10 or 30 minutes before your appointments, among other options.
3) Watch Your Grammar
Believe it or not, but the biggest pet peeve when it comes to introductory emails is bad grammar. In fact, in a survey conducted by HubSpot, 40% of people said bad grammar was most obnoxious in initial emails, followed by an overly long message, and one lacking a clear question.
As he explains in a Harvard Business Review article, Kyle Wiens, the CEO of IFixit, refuses to hire people with poor grammar, based on the principle “sloppy is as sloppy does.” Wiens reasons that a person who pays attention to their grammar is more likely to pay attention to other small details, making them a more fastidious and all-around better employee.
Odds are, your customers have similar feelings on being sloppy and unclear. In sales, it’s crucial to have excellent grammar because of the logic that Wiens adheres to. If we want to let this prospect know we’re serious, they need to understand our grammar and what we’re trying to say.
4) Be Informed
Going into each call with the same script is no longer working. It’s time to change how informed sales reps are about their prospects and their products. Understanding your customer — who they are, what they do, and how your service or product can help them — is a tremendous way to build credibility during the sales process.
Another way you can use knowledge to build credibility is to become intimately acquainted with the ins and outs of the product or service you’re selling. For example, knowing the difference between two kinds of flowers if you’re a gardener can be the deciding factor between converting a lead or losing a prospect.
5) Borrow Some Credibility
Don’t forget — salespeople can use the credibility of the company they’re associated with in addition to their personal allotment.
For instance, instead of starting a call to a vice president of marketing with, “Hey, I’m Mike, do you have a second to talk about marketing software?” I can borrow credibility by saying, “Hey, I’m Mike from HubSpot, do you have a second to talk about marketing software?” instead. Leveraging the credibility that HubSpot already has in the marketing industry goes a long way.
Another technique for borrowing credibility is to reference a customer’s success. For example, if your company has helped supply companies get the office materials they need faster than any other vendor, resulting in more revenue and an efficient office, say so. It never hurts to bring statistics to the call.
Finally, if you’re using LinkedIn to find prospects, mentioning that you share mutual connections with your buyer is a quick way to establish credibility, according to RingDNA. While the prospect might not know you personally, you both know the same Erin Jones very well, and this common tie can help launch the conversation forward.
Building a connection is based on likability, trust, and credibility. While we can’t guarantee that you’ll become best friends with everyone you apply these methods to, we can guarantee you will boost your credibility — and maybe even make a sale.