Trust – not price – is the decisive factor behind victory or defeat in 21st century sales

3 techniques you can apply to your next meeting

When I recently registered a domain I was swamped by 20 or more needy requests per day from developers who somehow got aware (I guess from a cold call list they bought on the internet) now that I registered the website, I need SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and other stuff. Each seemed to want the outplay the former by presenting more aggressive pricing! Let alone that this approach was very pushy, it again proved that cold email marketing DOES NOT work. From my conversations with managers, CEO`s and purchasing people most tell me that they do not even open an email nor respond to a sales related request from someone they have never spoken to or heard from, no matter how neat the E-Mail looks.

Trust always has been and will be the strongest connection between human beings in a business context. However, creating trust requires a considerate investment of time you spend with the buyer.

It cannot be shortcut but takes months and even years to be built. Ask any customer who has been with a service provider/manufacturer for several years or more. I can almost guarantee you that the word trust is used in 99 % of the responses. That of course means that in return you must not abuse the trust granted and humbug your client.

How do you create trust? Here are 3 tips

Remember when you last took that group picture with your family or friends and you watched it straight after you took it…Hands up who didin`t watch themselves first! Applied to inter-personal relations that means that most people like to talk about themselves. So allow your buyer to do it, too. You demonstrate competence by asking the right questions, not primarily by talking.

That doesn`t mean that you shouldn`t answer questions the buyer asks you but keep them brief and to the point. The added benefit: You point the buyer in the right direction and after all you control the discussion. If you talk more than 20% in a first meeting with the buyer you are doing something wrong.

All you need is a pen and paper, no slides, no fancy brochures. Trust me, the buyer won’t have the time to read them and the attention is on you and not the buyer.

The next thing you can do to establish trust is do deliver exactly what you promised to the buyer. “I `ll get a first concept to you by end of this week..”. Do so by all means and prioritize your tasks accordingly. No matter which other tasks get thrown at you, never forget that your firm won`t exist without customers paying for the service or products they create. As Chris Butler once quoted “Trust is earned when actions meet words“. Last, never leave a meeting without establishing a clear time line for a follow up (If you are interested in reading more about this technique please check out my other article

What is the ROI of trust? 

The buyer may provide you with information you didn`t ask for, asks you to stay longer and after all starts to like you. That will give you an advantage over your competition, especially during lengthy bid proposal processes.

Case study: When I was tasked to manage a large proposal of a Fortune 1000 company at my previous company I didn`t have a connection with the decision maker at all. Another division of my firm had some business with them but this division was totally separate with people in charge not known to my firm before. The bid process clearly stated that personal meetings were not permitted up until short list presentations in round 2. However, questions were allowed to ask and a phone number provided. So, I didn’t have to call her. I probably spoke over a dozen times to her during the 3 month long process. It was amazing how the trust developed through different levels and at the end after winning the business she told me, one of the reasons –besides providing a competitive proposal within the ballpark– was that she felt I really wanted to work with her and cared about her needs. So we did establish a basic form of trust, without even meeting in person.

Invest heavily in developing trust to the buyer and the return will be dramatic. But remember that once established, you have to maintain the relationship.

Trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair.