How much fake sincerity does it take to earn trust?
Do you know your biggest challenge as a vendor or service provider?
Your prospects don’t trust you.
They have been on the receiving end of too many exaggerations, part-truths, and distortion. Too many reps have misrepresented their capabilities and experience. They have wasted too much time with salespeople who could not stick to the truth.
I attended a meeting recently conducted by four experts on inside sales. A very sharp and knowledgeable group. They put forward the idea, backed up by some studies I can’t remember, that the biggest complaint buyers had with vendors was misrepresentation. They thought too many potential vendors were less than totally honest.
Here are some of the ideas shared by participants at that meeting as to how to get in the door.
– Find out from Linkedin what college they went to and send them some knick-knack or clothing item with their college logo on it.
– Peruse social media to find out a cause they believe in or hobby they have and mention it in your pitch.
– Communicate with two decision-makers within the same company. Send one a letter with a key. Send the other a package with a letter and a box. The executives would have to connect to unlock the box (to extract some item or small gift certificate), and I assume to discuss the merits of meeting with you.
There were a lot of clever ideas shared along these lines about how to get a prospect’s attention, get a conversation and book a demo or discovery call.
Two Problems With The Faux Sincerity Approach.
One of them is Math.
There is a very practical reason I didn’t like these approaches. Math.
You need to communicate with a lot of targets to meet sales goals. When you are personalizing to this degree the size of the pool you are prospecting shrinks substantially. When you spend that much time looking up personal information on prospects so that you can seem interested, you call far fewer prospects.
There is another reason I didn’t care for these ideas. Reality.
Buyers have seen it all. As soon as they sense a whiff of insincerity or that their time is being wasted, you are done. And for those that do agree to speak, the no-show rates are high and the closing rates are low. Your closing rate is going to be lower when you start the relationship faking genuine concern and interest or rely on gimmicks. That sales relationship is built on sand.
Who’s calling? Mr. Jones from the I.R.S.
True story. Extreme but true. Many years ago met a rep who proudly shared this technique to get decision-makers to come to the phone every time. When the gatekeeper asked “What is this regarding?” the rep would say “This is Mr. Jones from the I.R.S.” Of course, when the decision-maker picked up the phone to learn that Mr. Jones was from the Increased Revenue Service, they were not very pleased. The rep closed not one deal with this. Start with a lie, end with good-bye.
Now any idea will work on some people some of the time. Doesn’t make it good. Certainly doesn’t make it the idea that will work consistently to deliver the best outcomes over time.
I’m picturing two highly paid executives authorized to make major purchase decisions chasing each other to unlock a Starbucks gift certificate. Some might think it clever, but many will not be pleased their time is being wasted.
And sending items with college logos on them or striking up a conversation about a prospects hobby or cause they believe in The gift is obvious manipulation and faking interest in items found on their social media is very easy to see through.
If you were going to send something, it should relate to the outcome you can achieve for clients.
So How Much Sincerity Do You Have to Fake to Earn Trust?
You can go in another direction. Many do. Rather than waste time with all these gimmicks and tricks and spending time digging for something on each sales suspect so that you can “sincerely” relate interest or caring on some topic, why not just lay your cards on the table.
Clearly and consistently state what you do, why you are credible, the benefits you deliver and why you are worthy of their time and trust. Relate that message over and over again. Respect your suspects enough to deliver a message they can clearly understand and then let them say “yes” or “no.”
You will communicate with a larger group of suspects as you are not wasting time searching for items to be sincere about and those with needs can conclude you are worthy. That starts your sales relationship off on a foundation of trust.
As Franklin Roosevelt said, “Be sincere; be brief, be seated.”