This week’s blog is by Michael Lovas, an author, coach and an expert in the psychology of professional credibility.
I’ve been researching credibility since 1991. It’s not some mystical quality; it’s the result of a scientific process. In this piece, I’m going to give you the basic steps in that process. But first, why is credibility important? Because it’s the key to referrals.
Now, here are the steps to the Credibility Process:
- Safety: This is where the fight or flight response comes into play, and neither is a good thing. Needless to say, very few people buy from someone they don’t feel safe with. Ever make in-person cold calls? The most important thing you can do is make sure people feel safe. That includes the receptionist and other gatekeepers. They don’t fear someone attacking them in the office. They fear someone manipulating or otherwise taking advantage of them.
- Familiarity: This is the first step in the “likeability” part of the process. Ever talk with someone and wonder where you met that person before? That’s familiarity. It’s an unconscious determination that the person is okay. The key to this step is your ability to read the other person and move into their communication style. Your job is to become as familiar as possible to the person you’re talking with. They will see themselves in you, but won’t realize it.
- Relevance: Is your product or service a good match for the prospect? If yes, you might be able to demonstrate your credibility. If it’s not a good match – but you still try to make a sale – you’ll demonstrate that your credibility is questionable.
- Credibility: This is where your product expertise comes in. At this point, you’re probably asking your prospect some questions. Are they broad, open-ended questions or pointed, short-answer questions? The point is that you have not yet earned the right to ask those broad questions. So start by asking short ones – they demonstrate your wisdom and expertise.
In conclusion, the study of credibility is a combination of many disciplines: psychology, sociology, anthropology, personal development and political science. It is neither simple nor easy to find appropriate research related to credibility. We’ve found it because we’ve spent about 18 years searching for it.
Now you’ve had a tiny peek inside the Credibility Process. Knowing which steps to focus on can help you improve your own credibility during a sales call and take your business up a significant leap.
With most people tightening their belts nowadays, it’s essential that you minimize their perceived risk of purchasing from you. “Prospects want to know that you are capable of delivering the results they want and that you will actually deliver them. No matter how good your product is, if you are perceived as risky, your prospect will not buy from you,” explains sales trainer Tessa Stowe. “Conversely, people will knowingly buy inferior products if they perceive the risk is less and that there is more of a guarantee they will get the outcome they are looking for.”
Risk is a huge deciding factor, so how do you convey that you are the lowest-risk solution? Here are five ideas…
Geoff Alexander reminds us that we never know exactly what our prospect wants, or thinks, unless we ask through an “open” question, or the prospect volunteers the information first. We’re never as smart as the prospect, as much as we try to be. In his telesales training courses, he discusses the concept of being “intelligently ignorant”, which means that you want to ask a lot of questions, even if you think you know all the answers.
As much as some people seem to be telling us, there aren’t all that many “one size fits all” sales situations, whether it’s soup, cars, or development tools. You owe your prospect your best quality solution, and the way you diagnose it is by asking good open questions prior to making recommendations. Focusing on asking your prospect about his or her priorities should be your priority. So be “intelligently ignorant”, assume nothing, and add open questions to your Best Practices playbook.
One of Doyle Slayton’s directors used to say, “You can have a bad day, but don’t ever have two in a row. You might have a bad week but don’t repeat it the next week. If you have a bad month always bounce back the following month. Through it all, there is one thing you must always do. Make sure you always hit your goals for the quarter.”
Most people find themselves scrambling at the end of each quarter to achieve quota. Doyle has a great strategy for exceeding your quarterly goals. Perfect it, and you’ll beat your goals quarter after quarter… year after year!
At SMT’s conference earlier this month in Orlando, Laurie Weed, Western Region Sales Development Manager at Ricoh, presented her company’s approach to ride-alongs (at Ricoh they’re called field rides) with sales reps.
Dave Stein has seen different approaches to this critical reinforcement process at ESR. He really likes Ricoh’s for several reasons.
Let us know of any successes you’ve had with ride-alongs, and any aspects of this important process that are not included in Dave’s post.
The longer they’re on the market, the more desperate downsized candidates become. As a result, they tend to be open to positions with lower base salaries and commissions and even less accountability – things they wouldn’t think twice about in more stable economic times.
While hiring managers may be tempted to snag a top-level sales professional at an entry level price, it is a decision that will come back to haunt when things return to normal. These candidates may be sincere in their desire to join a company and more likely than not to achieve sales goals, but they are also flight risks. As soon as the economy bounces back, so will their confidence, career goals, compensation expectations and everything else they sacrificed for the sake of feeding their families and paying their mortgages in today’s harsh economic climate.
Typically, desperate job search behaviors begin to emerge when candidates have been out of work for six months or longer. This is when many start feeling the financial heat. They begin “diversifying” their search and are happy to settle for less in exchange for a steady income. While they may not admit it to even themselves, these make-due positions are almost always temporary.
I am not saying that what desperate candidates are doing is bad. They are simply doing what is necessary to survive.
I am saying that hiring managers need to be aware of this trend. Don’t take every candidate at face value. Be objective and analyze their motivations for considering a position that is clearly beneath their skills and experience.
This allows you to gain a clear understanding of the candidate’s long-term prospects and lets you make the final decision based on who is best for the company rather than who is most in need of the job.
SALES MANAGEMENT: It seems this is a continuing refrain heard ’round the world- “It’s so tough to find good sales people.” The first question is “Are you really looking?” After that is wrestled down, “How and Where?”
Today’s tightened economy has opened the ears of so many more capable sales people that have been previously closed to overtures about making a move. Some have been hurt due to their industry being severely impacted. Some are working at companies that are genuinely struggling and are open to discussing a move. Now is the time to turn a tightened economy into a time of opportunity. Put together your list of known top sales performers that could add quick and real impact to your team. Don’t forget to expand your search to folks outside your industry. Whenever Jack Daly asks his audiences if they would want a third/fourth quartile performer with industry experience or a first/second quartile performer with no industry experience, the choice is always the latter. Yet, it’s infrequent that we see Sales Leaders recruiting from outside their industry. There is real opportunity here and you can train them in your business. Top performers know one thing for certain- how to be top performers! Identify a dozen or so key recruits and begin the courting process.