Sales consultant and author, Nancy Bleeke, shows sales managers how to identify credibility-crushing sales conversation habits and coach their reps on how to change the conversation.
You work hard to generate leads for your sales team and establish credibility for your company, brand, and product. But do your sellers build their own personal credibility when they are in the hard-earned conversations with your buyers? Or do they unknowingly kill sales opportunities with seemingly little habits that trash their credibility?
Credibility is the quality of being believable or worthy of trust. It’s a necessity for earning the sale now more than ever.
The transparency afforded by the internet means that the reputation and actions of an individual are available to anyone who looks. Buyers can easily “Google” the seller before or after their meeting as they seek to determine whether they are credible. But what the seller does during the meeting with the buyer matters most.
There are many ways to build credibility and there are three seemingly conversational habits that will kill it.
Credibility killer habit #1: Pitching.
Unless your sellers are in front of the sharks on Shark Tank, pitching your solution “at” someone does not make a conversation and most times won’t make a sale. Bombarding buyers with data and details of why they should buy your solution without earning credibility, trust, and permission can be a killer.
What to do instead: Equip your sellers to have more than product knowledge. Train and coach them on how to explain your product or service (solution) connected to that specific person, situation, or company. Of course, to be able to do this means they need to know about that person, situation, or company first. That knowledge should be gained well before their actual conversation with them.
Buyers LOVE sellers who do their homework and don’t waste their precious time telling them things they could have easily found out on their own. Jeff Uphaus, SVP at Cbeyond echoed that sentiment at a recent fireside chat in Atlanta. As a consumer and decision maker in his company, one of his biggest pet peeves is being approached by sales people who don’t understand his pain points.
Credibility killer habit #2: Letting objections derail the conversation.
Sellers’ responses to stated concerns or objections are tell-tale signs of whether they are credible. When sellers try to talk around or avoid a concern or objection, or ‘handle’ the person or objection, the conversation changes and what might have seemed like a real sale opportunity might now be in jeopardy.
Confident and collaborative salespeople know that concerns and objections are an opportunity to keep the conversation going and the sale alive.
What to do instead: Work with the sellers to identify possible concerns and objections. Take 15 minutes during a sales meeting and have them practice their reaction and response to possible concerns or objections that can be raised. Yes they will moan and groan about ‘practicing’ but you’re the boss right?
Train and coach them to work through the concern or objection as a collaborative advisor. Here’s an easy to remember approach to working through objections and maintaining credibility in a conversation: Stop, Drop, and Roll.
Stop your verbal reaction and pause first. Drop your defenses, emotions, agenda, and ego. Roll forward with questions that seek clarity from the buyer about their objection and then respond with relevant information or suggestions.
Credibility killer habit #3: Sticking to the agenda.
Yes, I said sticking to the agenda is a killer habit in sales conversations. Why? Though agendas are extremely important as a roadmap for sales conversations, if they aren’t matched with the ability to be flexible and responsive to what is happening during the conversation, they are killers.
What to do instead: Train and coach your team to prepare meeting agendas and confirm the conversation objective with the buyer at the get-go. Many buyers will relax and be in a more productive and collaborative mindset when they know what the meeting is about. Ensure they ask the buyer what they want to accomplish in their time together to demonstrate that the buyer’s objectives are important as well.
Help your team stop killing their credibility and sale with (easy-to-fix) poor actions and reactions. Equip them with skills to keep the sales opportunity alive by eliminating the conversational habits that blow up the sale before it gets very far.
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