What is the secret for successful sales? Is it low cost? Is it a famous brand name? Is the secret to successful sales to have the most features, at the best price, with the best quality or performance, before the competition? The secret may surprise you.
The secret is not the lowest price, the most features, the best quality, best performance, or to be ahead of the competition.
The first ingredient to successful sales is trust.
Establishing trust is the most important element of successful sales. Without trust, how can the customer believe that you will deliver on the promise of a low price, best features, quality, or performance. The offer of a low price may be based on sacrificing quality or performance? The lure of advanced features may introduce unexpected defects, may be difficult to use, or may not be compatible with other devices. What good are the great features if they cannot be used? What happens to trust if there is a low cost in the beginning, followed by constant expenses to correct, upgrade, or fix problems in the product, software, process, or service? Deception and misrepresentation erode confidence, destroy trust, and create a barrier to sustainable sales.
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If you cannot be trusted, then nothing that you offer has any real value. That is a powerful statement, and an important realization. If you cannot be trusted, then your promises cannot be believed. Promises may be in the form of commitments, pamphlets, brochures, presentations, and marketing materials. It is important to establish credibility and authenticity in marketing messaging as a basis for any and all marketing materials. If the origin of the communication is untrustworthy, then the oracle emitting the commitment is indistinguishable from the cacophony erupting from any other orifice. Trust and confidence must be established in marketing, and through the sales cycle, if it is to be believed in a contract.
How can you establish trust?
The first step to establish trust is to know what you have to offer. This applies to products, people, processes, software, and services. Whatever is offered by you, or your organization, must be clearly and precisely defined. It is quite likely that there are many benefits available from the product, process, or people. To be accurate and effective, identify the specific benefits from the perspective of your customers. Put aside the contemporary marketing idealism of creating benefit statements to justify purported benefits to justify differences, and focus with precision on the real value as identified through the eyes of your clients. Look inside yourself for a unique blend of talent, experience, and knowledge that can be contributed to support the goals and interests of your clients. Use your skills and expertise to make your clients successful, and you will be amazed at how successful that you will become in the process. Communicate the value of your offering with the same integrity that you would communicate your personal value. You have to be honest with yourself before you can be honest with anyone else.
The importance of being earnest is that you must be truly dedicated to the welfare of your customers. This not only means investing your personal expertise with the intent to support the success of your customers, but it also means the capacity to be honest when it is difficult to do so. Typically, the most difficult time to be honest with your customers is when you need to deliver news about an error, a failure, an accident, or a failure to perform according to expectation. It is important to be honest in communicating mistakes. If you can be trusted to acknowledge accidents, then accomplishments are that much more believable.
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The ability to communicate honestly and effectively after the sale is just as important as the ability to acknowledge risk before the sale. Acknowledge risk, the identify countermeasures and preventative measures to demonstrate your commitment to be a trusted advocate for your customers.
Some customers will not appreciate your integrity. Trust is not important to all customers, but it is important to the loyal ones. Some customers will make a decision based purely on price, with no respect to the importance of integrity or credibility. The customers who purchase from your competitor based purely on price will also be swayed by changes in price, which means that there is no loyalty to the competition either. To focus pursuit and acquisition of customers exclusively on price is to risk the sacrifice of profit, and to disrespect the customers who value loyalty. While it is necessary to be priced competitively, keep a healthy focus on investments in loyalty and integrity as the foundation for sustaining business. To live by the discount is to die by the discount, but mutual loyalty with customers can sustain and survive through even the most challenging circumstances.
Earn a reputation for being trustworthy with your communications and your actions. Demonstrate your commitment, and it will reinforce credibility. Focus on the success of your customers, and many of them will return the dedication with loyalty and referrals. Build a personal brand based on authenticity and integrity. Cultivate honesty and trust in the organization, and you will be amazed at how much easier it is to grow future sales with loyal customers.
Words of Wisdom
"Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity."
- Louis Pasteur
"The secret of joy in work is contained in one word - excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it."
- Pearl Buck
"The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right."
- Hannah Whitall Smith