Building trust with our clients is vital, this is especially true with new clients who often have a healthy degree of scepticism about making purchasing decisions with new suppliers or service providers. It’s important to ensure you’ve established a trusting relationship with your client, it creates confidence for them to openly discuss their needs and existing challenges. Without trust customers may not tell a salesperson what’s really important to them, instead their answers can be guarded. Trust also helps to create receptiveness from a customer, which allow you to propose effective solutions delivered by your product or service. Without Trust, there’s defensiveness rather than receptiveness! In this article, we’ll explore the key stages of a successful and effective sales system, once trust is established.
The most fundamental element to building trust with your clients is communication and understanding. Effective communication (questioning, listening, understanding and responding accordingly) gives clients confidence that you and your team know what’s most important to them, and are best placed to provide a solution to their needs and challenges. One way to do this is to use the 6 step INSPIRe model, a proven step by step sales process. The INSPIRe model is made up of 6 simple stages that can be easily incorporated into every sales conversation or presentation. INSPIRe is a mnemonic and each letter of the word INSPIRe is a stage in the process. Let’s walk through them.
The first step is Insight & Impact, where you make a positive and impactful first impression by sharing an insight with your customer, it could be about the market, new technology, trends, disruptive activity, or something that is new and exciting. By sharing insights early in the process your customer learns something new and with that learning you create curiosity. Curiosity prompts your customer to engage and want to know more, this kick starts the sales process.
The next step is Needs Discovery, in this stage you should be asking the client questions to unlock their priorities, challenges and needs. The most important skills at this stage are listening and questioning. We’ll discuss this more shortly.
This is followed by the Solutions Discussion. Once the clients’ needs are fully understood, you can focus on positioning your solution to meet your client’s needs. Without a full understanding of your client’s needs, when you discuss your solution it will seem generic, and you may find your meet resistance or indecision.
You can then move on to the Proposal Agreement where you can create a proposal based on the information you have learned about your client so far and how they have responded to your solution. Without the preceding steps the Proposal stage can feel awkward and your customer may show disinterest.
This brings us to the final stage of your sales conversation, Initiate Action. This stage allows you to gain commitment and ensure what you have agreed with your client actually happens. So often this final stage is missed and the customer is left to figure it out for themselves, which of course they don’t do.
The final stage of our process happens after the client meeting, Reflection. It’s valuable to take the time to reflect on your communication and sales approach. Considering how you can evolve your sales conversations and find opportunities to positively impact your client experience and your influencing abilities.
Following these simple yet effective steps helps me and my team continually evolve and improve our client interactions, I hope it has the same impact for you.
Understanding client’s needs
When discovering your client’s needs, asking questions is just one half of the communication equation. Equally important to your success is the ability to actively listen to your client. If you fail to listen to the responses your clients give, then the discussion about their needs becomes redundant. By demonstrating to your client that you are activity listening, you show them that their needs and challenges are heard and valued. Making eye contact, nodding, allowing space for them to talk and repeating key words they use, is a practical way to show that you are fully engaged and actively listening to them. If you practice using these simple techniques, your client will feel understood and appreciated, you’ll learn more about their needs and further develop trust and confidence.
Maintaining a long-term relationship with your client is mutually beneficial. Clients who have strong relationships with you and your team become loyal advocates in the process. If you invest in nurturing your relationships, you can expect to spend less on marketing and gain more from testimonials and referrals. This is great way to harness the trust that already exists between your client and their network, depending on your business, they may even refer you to their friends and family.
Gaining commitment from clients
In my experience, if clients need time to make a final purchasing decision, they usually need to speak with someone else in their business. If it’s a smaller business, it may be their partner, mentor or someone they trust, especially when the investment is a significant value. In these situations, it’s best to agree with the client how much time they need to consider it, and then agree a suitable date and time to follow up with them. This puts the client at ease and ensures commitment from you and them, it’s best to agree this before you finish the meeting. People lead busy lives and without a commitment to follow up in advance, it’s easy to find purchasing decisions slipping down their list of priorities.
To increase value to your clients and continue to nurture trusting relationships, allow sufficient time in every conversation to discuss their changing needs. Ask your clients about their specific requirements and challenges and share your expertise where needed. You should also be asking about their personal lives, if they have any holidays, anniversaries, special occasions or family event coming up. These small, personal touches will strengthen your relationships with take you beyond a business relationship.
Finally, sales growth is a team sport! You can improve client satisfaction by encouraging your team to implement the INSPIRe principles. Holding regular team meetings or huddles is highly recommended, at least once a month. While you’ll be bringing your ideas to these meetings, encourage your wider team to generate ideas and share what’s working for them, it helps everyone to become more invested in the growth of the company. Small, incremental improvements can compound to deliver significant results over time!
If you put these principles into practice, you will find your team more engaged and motivated, and your work will become more rewarding. Developing effective communication skills and leading by example helps your business team enormously, but it requires focus and effort, and is incredibly rewarding when you get it right.
You can learn the in-depth principles of the INSPIRe method in the best-selling books ‘Inspire, Influence, Sell’. If you’re in a leadership role you will find ‘Coaching Leaders’ equally valuable. If you prefer a more hands on approach to learning, you can enrol on the Inspire Sales Academy course here. If you’d like to contact Justin directly his email is [email protected].
You can connect with Justin and access some of the Focus4growth resources here:
Wishing you every success with your growth in 2023 and beyond.
Whether you’re new to sales, an experienced sales professional or a leader looking to improve the consistency and performance of your sales organisation, you’ll gain immense value from these articles, the scorecard and the INSPIRE, INFLUENCE, SELL book. Our systems map out a memorable sales process over several steps and also include mastery content for each stage of the system, which will give you deeper insight and expertise. The combination of foundational and specialist material ensures that no matter where you’re starting from, you can become a skilled salesperson.
You might want to work through these articles at the foundational level and return to the Sales Mastery sections once you get to grips with the overall system and have developed your skills. Each article starts with an experience story in which I share relevant, valuable anecdotes. If you prefer to dive straight into the sales system, you can skip that content. These articles are designed to be accessible and flexible, so that you get the most out of them.
As you work through each stage, I suggest you make notes in a journal or notebook. This will help you learn and adopt the content.