The modern-day sales presentation: Establishing trust to open lines of communication

May 11, 2015

By Brian Barfield

103751033-mainHave you ever found yourself in a situation where you possessed a specific need, but felt very vulnerable when offering information? For me, the first thing that comes to my mind is taking my car to the auto repair centre. Clearly, I am there to have something done to my car. However, to not look ignorant, I act like I know what needs to be done and offer very little information. I do this because I have the sneaky suspicion they are going to rip me off or overcharge me for their services. The simple fact is I know nothing about car repair and the person who can help me has not yet gained my trust.

This is exactly how many of your customers feel when they enter your store for the first time. It all goes back to the disconnect between sales associate and customer I spoke about in my last article[1].

After reading the article, you should possess the skills to connect with your customer by offering a service that benefits them and helps them relax. They should now be open to listening to what you have to say, but guess what? Many of them still do not trust you.

At this point, it is vital for you to establish a bond of trust with your customer, so the information flows more freely and things are more efficient. You do this by creating a clear and effective approach to meeting your customer’s needs by communicating effectively.

The best way I can think of to illustrate this is by sharing a story about the time my tires slid when it began to rain. You will see clearly how trust can be established quickly.

When I entered the auto centre, I explained my situation to the first service rep. He proceeded to offer a long-winded explanation using his knowledge, skills, and plenty of foreign terms, such as “popcorn in my tires.” This was followed with the closing line that my tires needed to be replaced. I left feeling like I was being taken advantage of and, needless to say, no tires were replaced that day.

The next day, the problem with my tires presented itself again. I went back to the same place and asked for help. I shared with a new salesman my previous experience and told him nobody I had talked with had ever heard the term “popcorn in your tires.” The salesman then proceeded to walk me to my car. He pointed at the wear on my tread and showed me where some wire was breaking through the surface. He then followed it up with these words, “I bet you are sliding around like crazy when the roads are wet, aren’t you? You got popcorn in your tires and they need to be replaced.” How did he know that? I did not share that with him. Without hesitation I replaced the tires and have continued to go there for all my tire needs. Trust begets loyalty.

So, let’s recap the situation. Two guys told me the exact same thing. In truth, the first guy seemed a lot more knowledgeable, but he was unable to gain my trust, and thus my business. They both were confident, knowledgeable, and skilled enough to assist me. What the second guy did that was more effective was create a visual of the situation that made it very clear my tires needed to be replaced. This assured me I could trust him and that he was looking out for my best interest. My last two visits there have been quick and easy because the bond of trust has been established. I am now a ‘simple-minded[2]‘ customer.

The important lesson to learn is that understanding product knowledge and selling skills will only get you so far on today’s sales floor. It’s the ability to connect with people and build trust that sets you apart and brings you greater success. Sure, product knowledge and selling skills are important, but I will take someone who can connect with customers over a product guru or a selling shark any day of the week. This is an area we as an industry have failed to focus on until now.

Someone who can connect with their customer can be more effective in giving them a pleasant experience. Have you ever witnessed a product guru’s presentation? Can you say marathon?!! By the end of their rant, the customer would rather stick a pencil in their ear than listen to any more knowledge. Sure, they may have closed the sale, but that customer will most likely not return to see them again. Meanwhile, they did not even realize they missed a $10,000 sales opportunity while they were selling that $300 opal pendant for two hours. The sales associate who can connect with people would have closed that opal sale in 15 minutes or less. It’s that simple.

In my seminars, I call this the “look-at-me-sales-associate.” Every member of the audience knows exactly what I mean when I say that because they all have one or have witnessed one in action.

To establish trust, you must be able to speak clearly and effectively to your customer’s needs. This assures them you are a professional and you want to help them.

I encourage you to explore this insight in greater detail by using the self-examination skills I teach about. Your homework is to read my article entitled “The Power of Self-examination,” which can be found at[3] and[4] under columnist Brian Barfield. It will give you the skills necessary to implement this new knowledge and insight and help you connect with your customers.

This article is based on the book, “Modern Day Selling: Unlocking your Hidden Potential,” by Brian Barfield. For more information, visit his website at[5] or e-mail him at[6].

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