“Credibility is a basic survival tool”
The Oxford Dictionary defines Credibility as:
The quality of being trusted and believed in.
e.g. ‘the government’s loss of credibility’
A recent conversation with an associate of mine on an interstate trip got me thinking about Credibility in Sales and why this may be the missing ingredient that so many B2B Sales are missing
ZERO Credibility equals ZERO Trust
Let me introduce you to a friend of mine whom for the sake of anonymity we will refer to as “Peter”.
Peter is a C-Level executive at an Australian company that has grown significantly in the past few years by acquiring many of its smaller competitors.
I asked Peter how was work going and he told me about some of the issues they were experiencing:
- Growing very fast
- merging these new employees into their existing systems is challenging;
- incompatible IT systems;
- an array of different award structures;
- multiple pay structures;
- disparate business processes;
All this made for a very busy week for him & his teams.
For the savvy Sales person there is are lots of potential projects inside this company!
I was naturally curious to get a buyer’s perspective on the B2B Sales people they meet, so I asked:
Nick: “Do you get many calls from Sales People?”
Peter: “Sure do. They are annoying. I ignore the phone unless it is someone I know. On the off chance I take a call, all they do is try & push some product onto me that I don’t need.”
Nick: “Interesting. So how do you find out about new ideas and technologies that might be useful?”
Peter: “I rely on my existing suppliers. But often they are not much help so I often have to suggest new ideas to them,”
Clearly this is a problem.
The customer is actually in a bind.
They are stuck with an existing supplier who is lazy and content to sit on their hands.
On the other side they have a league of keen sales people, who might have great solutions, but have little idea on how to approach the customer in a professional manner.
The problem is – ZERO Credibility which equals ZERO trust!
I want me some Credibility
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication.
It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
– Stephen R. Covey
So, how does the savvy B2B sales person get a meeting in this account?
I would suggest a good dose of homework is needed.
Try these steps
- Research: Please do some research. Any of the issues I was told about could have been found out by doing a Google News search on the customer.
- Align your solution to the Customer’s problems: After you find out what challenges the customer has, then think about how your products/services create a Solution that will help the customer solve the business problem they have. Solving business problems and either making the customer money or saving them money is the only way to progress projects.
- You get delegated to who you talk like: When you approach the customer do not under any circumstances start talking feature-function-benefit. If you do, then you will get delegated to some junior employee down the line or you will get stone-walled. Instead, talk about business benefits of your solution and have list written in your notepad to refer to during the initial meetings.
- Social Profile: Before the customer will allow you to meet them, they will definitely have a look at you on LinkedIn and perhaps Facebook. So make sure you:
- have an up-to-date business photo;
- use a tagline that talks about what you do for customers,
- regularly curate/share content that pertains to your industry;
- write come relevant posts on the challenges your customer face and how you can help them;
- don’t have anything that is professionally embarrassing on social.
Getting in the door
After you do the homework, then try this approach:
- Use LinkedIn & the prospects website to determine who is the right C-Level executive you need to talk to. If you are connected to them via your network then try to get an introduction via your network.
- Prepare a draft email that is short and succinct on how your solution will address the client’s business problems. Remember point #3 above. Talk business benefits.
If you are connected to the Executive via your LinkedIn network, then send the email content to them after you have been introduced by your network.
If not, then try this approach:
- Call the C-Level Executive’s Personal Assistant (PA). Remember the PA is the designated Gate-keeper and is tasked with shielding the Executive from unnecessary distractions.
- Talk nicely. Be super polite. Tell the PA them why you are calling – you have a solution that you believe will benefit the customer.
- Ask the PA if it is Ok for you to send her/him an email outlining your proposal and will they pass this onto the executive?
Remember this is the PA’s job.
They will most likely print out the email & show it to the exec in a weekly meeting.
You will then most likely get delegated to one of the managers below the C-Level exec.
Then the sales campaign really starts
WARNING: Be prepared. When you call you may get the C-Level exec themselves if the PA is unavailable. So be prepared and have your pitch ready to go as this will be your chance to impress!
Do your research.
It is that simple.
Well researched Warm Calls work – Cold Calls do not.
This is not a numbers game.
It is a quality game.
Credibility is all about building Trust.
If you take the time to research the client’s business and come armed with a Business Solution then you are on the path to building some serious Credibility in your target account.
If you do this, you won’t be one of the lemmings who fall into the Credibility Gap and who never manage to get themselves out!
Note: that if there is a partner involved, as in this example, then you may need to get the partner involved.
As Graham Hawkins outlines in Wondering Why your Pipeline is Declining?, Vendor Rationalization is a big challenge for modern sellers.
I would suggest you do this after you create the demand with the customer! This way you can control the discussion around the solution.
I will be writing more about how to work with partners in future posts.
I trust you found this post useful. Feel free to comment if you like and if you want to contact me then use the form at the bottom of this post.
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Happy & Prosperous Selling