The moment that a stranger sees you, his or her brain makes millions of assumptions about who you are at the speed of light.
Are you friend or enemy? Do you have power and respect? Are you trustworthy or should you be avoided? These tiny and quick calculations are what build out a stranger’s perception of you– all within the first seven seconds of seeing you.
In business interactions, particularly in sales, first impressions are imperative to one’s success. While we can’t stop strangers from making wrongful assumptions about us, we must know and understand that the human brain is hardwired this way and that there are decisions we can make to work in our favor.
An initial meeting with a potential client will be deemed successful or a fail based on the following criteria: eye contact, handshake, body language, the genuinity of your smile, facial expressions, what you say and more importantly, how you say it.
Within these seven seconds of interaction, your door for business will either swing wide open or slam shut. Yet, today face time as widely been replaced with impersonal emails, text messages, video-conferencing, and even instant messaging. How does one establish trust without ever seeing the individual you are selling to?
Trust achieved through written words is possible, but is far more difficult to do. In order to win one’s trust entirely, you really need to show them your worth, which will require face-to-face interaction. Through written words, you can write a strong message to your potential client up front, which will help set the building blocks to earn trust. Your message will need to catch their attention and point to a pain or pleasure scenario that the client is familiar with. You can then follow-up with a proposition that will address a solution to their problem.
Attention spans continue to get smaller, so these actions will need to be accomplished in 111 words or less when reading your note, or the opportunity will be lost.
Building trust over the phone is done in a very similar process. Within the first seven seconds, you have to utter something intriguing that will keep your listener listening. Sales trainers often call this the “big fat statement.” Not only what you say is important to keep the conversation going, but how you say it. Tone of voice is a big make or break in sales calls. Once you’ve got their attention, you will need to zero in on your sales pitch, which will create the pain or desire that the client is looking to learn more about to address their needs.
Another way to achieve trust comes from others selling who you are. If someone is respected and they refer another person there tends to be immediate trust, which is secured but needs to be maintained through action.
A salesperson’s biggest reason for failure is that once trust is established, they fail to deliver on their promises or ensure that their client is still happy with the service. Some people will give second chances if the effort to perform was there, but if promises were made and not followed through– trust evaporates.
There are four key components to building long-lasting trust between yourself and your client:
The truth always comes out. Failure to be honest with your clients will eventually show through either in a discussion or an action and will ultimately cost you the trust and client you’ve worked so hard to secure.
You need to be reliable. If you say you are going to do something, you better do it.
Be consistent in your actions. You can’t do something right one time and then fail immediately after. You need to be consistent in your approach so that the potential client will feel confortable with you and therefore trust you.
Finally, you need to speak with confidence. Someone that speaks with a hesitancy will have the other party start to question your ability or your motives.
Ideally, a face-to-face meeting is the best approach for strangers to instill trust in you. To many, this is considered an “old school” approach, but nothing beats a personal touch. Video-conferencing is the next best thing if for whatever reason you are unable to meet your client face-to-face.
Without trust, your chances of closing a deal decrease and the ability to create a long-term relationship with a client is greatly diminished. You might be able to sell one time, but you will not develop the kind of relationship that will garner long-term sales plus referrals.
Photo Credit: visitBerlin Flickr via Compfight cc
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