A Publication of WTVP

How often do people try to sell us something before we’ve expressed an interest, have a desire, or are in the market for what they have? It seems the standard for many salespeople is to try to sell to anyone and everyone regardless of the interest level.

When someone attempts to sell us something before we’ve expressed an interest, the initial thought may be, “Why would I buy from you? You haven’t earned the right to sell to me.”

The fact is that selling—both online and off—is about determining whether there’s a need before ever attempting to match a buyer with a product or service. It’s about providing enough information for the buyer to make the best decision based on their needs. And it’s about gaining trust. The most successful sales professionals are those who are a resource before they’re a vendor.

Having been in both brick-and-mortar and online sales and marketing for many years, it never ceases to amaze me how many people try to sell without determining the customers’ needs. They don’t seem to realize that the better the match, the more likelihood for return business. The better the match, the more trust gained. If you depend on repeat business or referrals, trust is absolutely a factor in your customers’ decision to come back to you when they need your product or service.

Anyone who’s been in business for an extended period of time—or plans to be—would be hard pressed to believe otherwise. Whatever you’re selling, the buyer’s experience from the initial visit and/or purchase will likely determine whether or not he’ll ever purchase from you again.

When customers have a great experience from the beginning, the chances of them turning into repeat buyers is more likely. It’s a proven fact: it’s more cost effective to have repeat buyers than it is to seek out new customers constantly. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be adding new clients as part of your business model, but building trust with existing clients will add to your conversion rate more consistently.

What’s often missed in the equation of sales and marketing is the lifetime value of a customer. Once the initial sale is made, they’re forgotten. With proper care, a one-time or occasional buyer can turn into a loyal buyer. And loyalty is more often than not based on trust.

We live in a “try before you buy” society. Because of this, many buyers use what’s referred to as the “buying ladder.” The buying ladder is very applicable to brick-and-mortar sales, as well as Internet sales.

Before buying a high-ticket item, buyers will test the waters. This can be done in a number of ways: by test driving a car, taking a tour of a home, asking friends and associates for a recommendation, etc. When purchasing on the Internet, it can be downloading a free information item or buying an inexpensive product from a web site to test out the level of service, quality of product, delivery time, quality of information, and response time. It may even depend on the buyer’s gut feeling. What are your own buying habits? What process do you go through before making the decision to buy?

When you gain trust, people want to do business with you. And they want to tell others about the experience. Have you heard the expression that if someone has a bad experience they will tell more people about that experience than they do a good one? I can’t say I necessarily agree with this statement. There are occasions when I’ve heard people rave about a great experience over and over again.

Buying decisions are made for a number of reasons, but they ultimately depend upon whether or not the buyer trusts the process. And if they trust you. It’s through the process of building trust that we’ve earned the right to sell. IBI