March 8, 2021 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
A big part of closing a sale with a prospect is to get them to trust you. But for many, this is a process that is far easier said than done. After all, you have your own interests in mind when you are communicating with a prospect, and they know it.
Despite this, many salespeople can gain the trust of their prospects — and keep that trust — by becoming more of an advisor in the buying journey. The power of psychology plays a big role in that process.
1. Establish your genuine credibility
Like it or not, humans have a natural tendency to fear the unknown. This fear is believed to contribute to the hidden biases that result in racism. It can also disrupt the sales process because prospects fear the unknown outcomes of what happens after completing a sale (particularly in the business world).
To alleviate this fear, one of your first steps in gaining trust is to establish your brand’s credibility. Many influencers achieve this by establishing themselves as industry authorities, sharing helpful information and tips. This way, when they pitch an affiliate product or service, their followers are far more likely to be interested.
While you can certainly share relevant industry info through social media accounts or other platforms, sales professionals should take a more direct approach by providing hard data that proves their business gets desired results. Case studies serve as powerful social proof to establish your niche authority and success.
2. Demonstrate true empathy
The saying “cold, hard facts” reveals an important insight — namely, that facts are cold. They can be helpful, but they lack the warmth and connection that helps prospects feel at ease. This is where a successful salesperson leverages their empathetic abilities.
The American Psychological Association says that empathy is hard work because it is cognitively tasking. After all, true empathy requires asking questions that help uncover a prospect’s root problem, actively listening and attempting to place oneself in the prospect’s shoes.
Though this necessitates a more involved approach, empathy is what fosters a genuine connection. It helps you better understand your prospect so you can deliver solutions tailored to their actual needs. Few things will build trust faster than that.
3. Create win-win situations
Psychology describes four basic outcomes to any situation: win-lose, lose-win, lose-lose and win-win. Unsurprisingly, a win-win situation — in which both sides feel good about the outcome — is what will lead to a strong, lasting relationship.
The sales process can often feel like a win-win solution is impossible — but it can be achieved with a bit of outside-the-box thinking. A great example of this comes from ThrottleNet and its “Win-Win” sales call. The company actually offers its services for free for the first 30 days after an initial IT call, while also not charging any on-boarding fees — all without a contract. Even crazier, they’ll refund all unsatisfied customers $1,000 should they cancel within 30 days.
At first glance, this seems like a win for the customer and a major loss for the company, right?
But this is a situation that can easily turn into a win-win. The process on-boards prospects at a much higher rate, giving them a firsthand experience with the service they might not try otherwise. This makes them far more likely to convert into paying customers, resulting in more revenue for the brand.
4. Be consistent
Consistency is key to building trust in any relationship. As mentioned earlier, much of the fear a prospect experiences in the sales process comes because they don’t know what to expect. When you behave consistently over time, they become better able to predict your behavior.
This consistency in your interactions helps release oxytocin when they interact with you, which has been found to increase trust and reduce fear. The release of oxytocin can also help increase empathy, which further strengthens the relationship between you and your prospect.
5. Always follow through on your promises
Your work isn’t done after you close that initial sale. No matter what type of service your business provides, that service essentially will either fulfill or not fulfill the promises you made during the sales process.
In psychology, our ability (or lack thereof) to keep promises communicates how much we value the person we made that promise to. Even breaking a small promise can cause trust to dissipate. Over time, a series of broken promises will cause you to lose a prospect’s trust entirely — and that’s when they’ll go to one of your competitors instead.
No salesperson should think it’s okay to over-promise and under-deliver. This may help you get sales at first, but it won’t help you retain customers. Negative word of mouth will spread and you will find that no one trusts you. On the other hand, if you only make promises that your business can keep, you will satisfy your customers and lay the groundwork for a lasting relationship by fulfilling expectations.
Trust is (always) the answer
Success in the sales world is ultimately about fostering a quality relationship with your prospects — and every good relationship needs trust to thrive. By demonstrating that you can be a trustworthy resource during the sales process, and continuing to be reliable after the sale is closed, you won’t just earn trust. You’ll also earn your prospects’ business.