On return from a recent trip, I was making an international connection in an airport and passing through security for the second time. The security guard asked me the same standard questions, but the last question she asked me I found to be most curious. She said, “Should I trust you?” I paused and then answered in the affirmative, but it got me thinking.
When meeting with a prospect for the first time, how do you establish trust? This is not the same type of trust that you have with a family member or loved one, but the trust that allows someone to have a candid conversation about their business issues.
There is plenty written about how not to do it, such as being pushy, talking too much or just falling into stereotypical selling behavior. But in that critical window of time (some say as short as a minute) how do you make a connection that allows the prospect to feel comfortable sharing information with you.
In his recent book “The Speed of Trust”, Stephen M.R. Covey identifies trust as the one thing that changes everything. He defines trust as confidence, confidence that the words that come out of a salesperson’s mouth show genuine interest in understanding the situation before a “spray and pray” feature dump.
Here are a few simple steps to follow to make sure that you can earn initial trust:
1- Be prepared with questions geared towards the prospect’s organization and needs, not statements or brochures around your product, service or organization.
2- Allow the prospect to set the pace for the meeting, and only offer suggestions for items to review after they have expressed their priorities. Help the prospect discover needs by listening to what they say. A few well -constructed questions will help the prospect come to their own conclusion.
3- Be sincere. Being sincere means doing what you say you are going to do. The first way to establish sincerity is a prompt, written follow up after an initial meeting that captures the important components for the prospect and their organization.
Some think trust takes years to cultivate and develop. The security guard in an airport thought it could take one second, a reaction to a question. One thing is certain; establishing trust is a central component to all healthy relationships.