In a recent webinar on establishing sales credibility, I had a chance to ask some tough sales questions from the webinar attendees. Here’s a look at the answers from sales experts Craig Elias, creator of Trigger Event Selling and RingLead CEO, Donato Diorio.
How do you establish sales credibility?
Craig Elias: Charlie Green wrote the book called The Trusted Advisor where he talks about credibility building. The people who had the most trust or credibility basically had two things: 1) Reliability, or when you say you’re going to do something you get it done in the timeframe. 2) Intimacy, and the power of small talk. Let somebody know who you are and find these common connections. Once you do, people will tell you stuff they won’t tell other people. However, when I reach decision makers at big corporations, I’m not sure that they want my empathy; they want my answers.
Donato Diorio: Today, sales outreach response rates are 3% on the low, to 9% on the extreme high. I believe that this is a credibility issue, not because people are less credible than they were 20 years ago, but because there is so much noise today, and so much additional data, that unless you stand out, you’re not going to get a response. Therefore, without credibility, you don’t have a sale.
What sales triggers can we seek out to establish credibility?
Craig Elias: I’m a big fan of understanding a prospect’s fiscal year end. They very often have money left over from the last fiscal year, or you get on their budgeting cycle for the next fiscal year. I’m also a big fan of location changes. You can take one change in a decision maker and create multiple opportunities out of it, and that includes when there’s a change in location.
Craig Elias: If someone is changing location, the question is who used to be in that location, and where have they gone? And the place that they may have left vacant now gets filled by whom? For me, there’s three big events; the first one is what makes somebody want to change that allows you to get in early. This drives your close ratio from an average of 16 or 17% up to 74%.
Craig Elias: The second event is when someone can afford to change. That’s very often around time or money, such as fiscal year end. The last one is customers that won’t jump. They’re sitting on the fence and we just can’t get them to finally say yes. What I’ve learned is that the vast majority of those people aren’t jumping because they have not found a way to justify their purchase to others. If you pay attention to the competition of your prospect, very often what a competitor does becomes the justification the prospect can use to finally do what you want them to do.
At what point should you establish credibility?
Craig Elias: When you get in front of a decision maker in a new role, help them define the problem or redefine the problem. Then, help them design the solution, while you’re developing a relationship and establishing credibility. Credibility must come on the front end, before the prospect reveals anything.
Donato Diorio: Develop metrics for credibility, specifically in the case of sales outreach. For example, I came up with a 100-point system including:
- Contact venues (such as phone calls, emails or LinkedIn direct messages)
- Peer influencers
- Industry knowledge
- Prospect knowledge
Each approach gets a certain number of points, for instance, if you reach out to someone via phone or email, you’ll get more points than a Twitter DM, because phone tends to be more effective. Mentioning a peer influencer will establish more credibility than not mentioning one. Developing a scoring system is very important to determine where and when to establish credibility.
How soon in the process should you start talking about pricing?
Craig Elias: Talk about the prospect’s problems before you talk about pricing. That helps you understand how you compare. Ask, what is the problem and what are the implications of that problem? More times than not the customer thinks they have a two-dollar problem, and they’ve got a five-dollar solution. If we help the customer understand that they have a ten dollar problem, and we have a five dollar solution, that’s great.
Donato Diorio: After value is established, price doesn’t matter. However, I like to talk price sooner than later because I want to screen prospects out. If it’s just a budget issue, a year-end thing, etc., I want to know that sooner to before I bring other people in. This approach rarely backfires if you truly establish the value first.
Craig Elias: I want to at least give ballpark pricing for two reasons; 1) I want to make sure that the person knows where we are from a pricing perspective. They can decide if they want to continue, and if I get a sense that I’m way over budget, I’m going to add value. If there’s a big disconnect, I can offer those who are less expensive if the prospect wants less value. I have given business to my competitors because there’s no fit between what I have and what the decision maker wants. But when they move to somewhere else, who do they remember? They remember me when I phone and follow up with them in their new role, and that’s when I make it up.
Get more sales tips in the upcoming webinar, How to Grow Your Sales Pipeline While Increasing Conversions on April 29 at 2pm ET.
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