What to Do When Prospects Don't Believe You

By: Jill Konrath

We were just approaching Des Moines, Iowa, traveling at 72 miles per hour on I-35 when it hit me. My husband, who was driving, didn't even notice. But for me, the effect was jarring.

"Holy cow!" I exclaimed. (That's really an appropriate phrase when you're in Iowa.) I held up Wikibrands, the book I was reading. "Did you know that the Edelman Trust Barometer says only 8% of people trust what companies say about themselves?"

My husband shrugged his shoulders and gave me that "Duh" look. Clearly, it wasn't impacting him the same way it did me. All I could think about was what salespeople were saying and what their prospects were hearing.

Seller: We offer state-of-the art technology.
Prospect: I don't believe it. And even if it's true, your lead in the market will last only a short time.

Seller: We really care about our customers.
Prospect: That's what they all say before they get the order. Then after the order is placed, they ignore you.

Seller: We're number 1 in the XYZ Ranking.
Prospect: Statistics can easily lie.

Seller: We offer a unique approach to solving your problems.
Prospect: Sure you do, along with everyone else.

This is serious. When you talk about your company, 92% of the time people don't believe you. And the more wonderful things you say about your organization, the more unbelievable you are.

So, what's the answer?

Here are three strategies you can use to be more believable and get prospects to trust you.

  1. Don't say anything nice about your service.
    Don't say one blasted thing nice about your service or solution because doing so only destroys your credibility. Don't pass out any of your "aren't we wonderful" marketing brochures either. They have the same negative impact. This is especially important in your early conversations with buyers.
  2. Focus on being helpful in every interaction with a prospect.
    Let your prospect know about the results your other clients achieved using your services. Talk about the prospect's critical business issues. Share ideas, insights, and information that you think would be beneficial to them. Ask questions. But most of all, make sure they have no doubt that your intent is to provide value to them.
  3. Be truthful, even when it hurts.
    Your service or solution is not perfect for everyone. When you're under corporate or self-induced pressure to close more sales, it can be hard to remain truthful and avoid doing and saying anything to win the sale. But you must keep the buyer's interest at the forefront. Sometimes that even means recommending a competitor because it's the best option for the prospect and the right thing to do.

Developing trust is essential. Without it, you don't have a chance to get the business. With it, you'll have an opportunity to grow long-term, highly profitable relationships. It's worth the effort.

Jill Konrath is a Contributing Editor for RainToday.com and bestselling author of Agile SellingSelling to Big Companies, and SNAP Selling  An expert on sales acceleration, she's a frequent speaker at sales conferences. Email Jill at jill@jillkonrath.com.

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