sales savvy
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Being Believable

by Bette Price

    Your ability to convey believability to your customer will dramatically impact how successful you are in your sales efforts. Researchers at the University of Houston found this out when they researched why some people are more believable than others. What they found were five specific factors that contribute to one’s believability. What’s important to fully understand about these factors is that all five must be harmonious within an individual in order for them to be seen as highly believable.
   Thus, when one or more of these factors fails, your believability will be diminished and as a result, the effectiveness of your sales persuasion will become weakened as well. Examine the five factors as they relate to you:

    How knowledgeable are you about the products and services you sell? Is your knowledge deep or merely surface? Are you able to respond quickly to customer questions or are you frequently forced to do additional research and get back with answers? The deeper your knowledge, the more readily you can respond with confidence, and the more ease with which you can communicate the value of your company’s products and services, thus the more competent you will appear to your buyer.

    How well do you hold up under pressure? Do you get flustered during those rough or uncomfortable situations or are you cool, calm and at ease? Your ability to effectively and calmly handle customer concerns and difficult questions will reflect a strong composure and enhance your believability.

    Extro-version conveys your genuine warmth and caring for people. If you are sincere in your interactions and genuinely connect with others, you will go a long way toward establishing rapport with your customer. Genuine is the key word here. You can’t fake caring; customers see right through a false effort to be warm and sincere. If you’re truly engaged with the customer for the customer’s sake, your sincerity will shine through. If you are merely faking it, be aware that you will easily be seen as disingenuous and will therefore have a difficult time establishing rapport.

   This denotes your ability to build trust with people. While character has always been important, it is even more valued today, given the unfortunate erosion of trust caused by financial downfalls of the past few years. Your character will be reflected in the judgments you make; in the ethical decisions you convey and the follow-through you demonstrate. Trust is the cornerstone of all long-term relationships and is critical to obtain valued referrals.

   This factor can be a silent killer. Sociability reflects your social skills, your etiquette and your appropriateness. It is amazing how little concern many salespeople give to this important factor. Clients won’t often tell you when your behavior is inappropriate—they just find ways to avoid doing business with you. Although etiquette training has become a real dinosaur in most business and sales courses, never discount its importance. Lack of manners or appropriate behavior is often the number one reason a customer decides to do business with someone else.So mind your manners.
    One of the most dramatic examples of lack of sociability was described by a sales manager who had taken a new salesman to call on a prospective major account. The occasion called for a lovely lunch at a restaurant known to be a favorite of the customer. The customer raved about the incredible Ceasar salad, so to comply with his suggestion, the sales manager and the salesman both ordered it to begin their meal. Instead of being served in a cut up manner, the salad was served in a much more elegant version in which the long leaves of romaine lettuce lay whole on the plate with dressing delicately drizzled on top. The young salesman had never seen salad served in this way, and rather than waiting to get a clue on how best to begin eating it by seeing what the others did, he simply stabbed the entire piece of lettuce, lifted it to his mouth and began awkwardly nibbling on it like a hungry rabbit.
    Although the customer said nothing at the time, he later told the sales manager that perhaps this wasn’t the company for him. The etiquette breech had compounded everything else. It outweighed all the rest of the salesman’s believability and negatively influenced all of his remaining believability factors. It turned the sales call into a total fiasco.
    On the surface this may seem somewhat trite, but to the mature customer, the salesman had demonstrated a lack of composure and sociability. Beyond that, he demonstrated poor judgment, which negatively impacted his character. With three out of the five believability factors impeded, the sale was doomed.

   Hopefully nothing this dramatic will impede your believability factors. However, it may serve you well the next time you make your sales calls to keep in mind these five believability factors and to remember that some factors, like sociability, stand out more visibly than others. All five are important in building rapport and believability with customers. So, if you can honestly say that all five were in sync when you made your last sales calls, chances are you have had effective results that have either led to closing the sale or establishing a strong enough rapport to keep the momentum going.