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Mastering the Emotional Side of Sales

By Mark Wardell @MarkWardell |

Whether you’re choosing an accountant or buying an appliance, your decision around what to buy and who to buy it from hinges on one critical emotion: trust. 

When it comes to sales, trust is everything. It’s the key to turning a prospect into a lifelong customer. It’s also the key to losing customers, as once the trust is gone, so is the relationship. 

This is why first impressions are so important in sales. With less than 10 seconds to earn somebody’s trust, there are many subtleties riding on that critical first impression. Here’s how you can invest some time preparing your sales team to make the best possible first impression. Systemize these principles and your effort here will pay off dramatically.

  1. Call people by their names. This is a simple, effective way to make a great impression. We all like to hear our names. It makes people feel good and shows that you are tuned into them as individuals. When possible, learn your prospects’ names in advance (including how to correctly pronounce them). 
  2. Look and smell good. It might sound silly, but it’s important to brush your teeth or have a mint after you eat that Caesar salad for lunch. Make sure you look and smell clean and are dressed appropriately. Otherwise, your prospects won’t hear a word you are saying.
  3. Listen more than you talk. You’ve got two ears and one mouth - use them in the same proportion. When you listen, you learn. The more you learn about your prospects, the more you can help them.
  4. Create an optimal environment.  Make sure your prospect is someplace he or she feels comfortable. If possible, get her out of her regular working environment to minimize distractions. If your prospect is constantly distracted during your sales presentations, her mind will not be focused on your conversation.
  5. Be on time. Remember that trust begins with integrity and integrity is demonstrated by following through with your promises. Missing your first promise by being late is not a good way to begin a relationship with your prospect.
  6. Stay positive.  No matter how negative your prospect may be they will appreciate you better if you maintain a positive outlook on life. Listen with sympathy to your prospects’ complaints, but look for the bright side to every negative comment. Try not to argue with your prospect, however. Find something positive to say without directly contradicting them.
  7. Never “bad-mouth” your competition. Even if your competition does it to you, never speak negatively about them to your prospects. This doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t demonstrate why your products or services will serve your prospect’s needs better than your competition’s will.  Should your prospect bring up your competition, try saying something like, “they make a good product, but I think you’ll find that the additional features available with our product make it more suited to your needs.”
  8. Give genuine compliments. Look for something to compliment your prospect on. If you know something about them (perhaps they are an outstanding tennis player) so much the better. But, even if you have just met them you will likely be able to find something to compliment, even if it is just their taste in clothing. When you give your prospect something to feel proud about, they will automatically warm up to you. It feels good to receive a compliment and we all instinctively like people who make us feel good.
  9. Focus on your prospect, not on yourself. People like to talk about themselves, so indulge them. Allow them to be the centre of attention by asking open-ended questions about their hobbies, their work, or anything else they might enjoy. It is better to be interested than it is to be interesting. Not only will this start your relationship off on the right foot, but you will learn a good deal more than you would if you did all of the talking. If you notice a photo on their office wall of them on a fishing trip, for example, why not ask them a little about their fishing interest or about the trip that generated the photo?
  10. Avoid controversial subjects. You can never be completely certain of someone’s political or religious beliefs, so it is best to stay away from these topics altogether. The last thing you want to do is offend or get into an argument with your prospect, but the negative impact can even be farther-reaching than that. When your salespeople express their opinions on controversial subject matter, they paint your entire business with the same brush. Since your salespeople represent your entire business to your prospects, their personal opinions represent the opinions of your entire business to your prospects. For this reason, it is usually best for your salespeople to avoid controversial topics altogether.
  11. Speak their language. Avoid technical jargon that your prospects may not understand. Instead, try to get on the same wavelength as your prospects. People will be more honest and forthcoming if they feel you are “one of them.” Of course, if you are selling to a group of your peers it may be perfectly appropriate to use technical jargon. The important thing is that you are aware of your behavior. After all, trying to identify and satisfy your prospects needs is something you can’t do without their willing cooperation. 
  12. Systemize your approach. Relationships are built on trust, and trust is a by-product of integrity. By systemizing your customer relations, you can ensure that your company is able to keep the promises your sales people make to your customers, thereby preserving your integrity and promoting trustworthy relationships. 

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