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6 Ways to Build Trust Quickly in Post-COVID Sales

6 Ways to Build Trust Quickly in Post-COVID Sales

Of course, we are all familiar with how COVID-19 changed sales. From new environments to new skill sets and processes, our comfort zones were upended as our personal and professional lives entered a state of flux. As much as this was true for sales teams, it was also true of buyers. A byproduct of this change will be fear and uncertainty. Going forward, sellers can expect increased hesitancy and trepidation on the part of buyers when it’s time for final decisions. That’s why it’s essential sellers build trust and establish themselves as long-term advisors more than one-time sellers. Here are a few ways sellers can build trust quickly in the post-COVID sales landscape:  

Preparation

If in “normal” times, sellers searched professional directories and social media for information on a company and its players, that alone will no longer cut it. Now, in addition to being familiar with various firmographic data, sellers must do the following:

  • Be more proactive than ever
  • Fully understand the buyer’s corporate structure
  • Display a detailed understanding of the buyer’s competition and industry
  • Demonstrate how these changes will impact the buyer’s business in the both the short and long terms

In all these things, remember the key is not only knowing what’s happening, who it’s happening to, and what it means for your buyer. It is equally important to always show the value you can bring to their needs. While you don’t need a crystal ball, displaying the scope of your research shows you care, which goes far in building the trust needed to move forward.

Honesty

In today’s polarized political environment, honesty is a tricky subject. More than just bare facts, it means providing the background and details that give context and complete the picture. For sellers, this means the following things:

  • Acknowledging the strength of a competitor’s products while illustrating the greater value of your own
  • Having the courage to disagree when a buyer’s ideas are incorrect or shortsighted
  • Addressing hard truths, not sugarcoating, or saying what buyers want to hear
  • Showing what they need and the success they can expect

A seller committed enough to disagree with a buyer shows they have the buyer’s best interests at heart. And the most important part is not putting on airs, making false promises, or achieving a short-term sale. It may be old fashioned, but there’s no substitute for good, old-fashioned honesty.

Empathy

With all we have been through the last two years, empathy is more important than ever. This goes beyond merely nodding in agreement as buyers describe the hard times, difficult decisions, and the losses they incurred. It requires the following:

  • Establishing and maintaining eye contact
  • Using body language to express warmth and sincerity
  • Noting your buyer’s body language for unconscious or unspoken needs
  • Sharing your own stories
  • Illustrating how difficulties and strife made your organization stronger

Far from just displaying one’s weakness and singing kumbaya, empathy is projecting strength and confidence, providing the buyer with a model of resilience. It’s demonstrating a willingness to partner with them to share their burdens and toast their success.

Foresight/Vision

The best sellers know that, in good times and bad, their greatest strength is a sales process they trust. It’s a blueprint that outlines the steps and behaviors that ensure success. When approaching buyers who face uncertainty, use this same idea to illustrate a plan to move forward. For foresight/vision, consider these things:

  • Lay out a vision for where you see the buyer’s situation in two weeks, one month, even six months down the road
  • Detail a plan of action, the steps needed to face the challenges ahead and create a successful future
  • Set a schedule of the actions needed to expedite and set the plan in motion

As your own sales process is a guide and road map, sellers who display foresight and vision inspire trust that buyers are on the right path.

Adaptability

As anyone who watches the news knows, circumstances can change on a dime. While the CDC revises guidelines, the government issues new projections, and organizations must juggle budgets and workforces to make the most of the situations they face. In times like these, the following steps can make a difference:

  • Display an ability to change, revise, and update solutions and plans for the buyer’s success
  • Be prepared to adjust advice and explain the need for the change
  • Show how the solution represents a better value for the times ahead

Sellers that can best adapt to uncertainty show buyers they’re the partner they need.

Flexibility

In addition to modifying solutions to a buyer’s changing needs, sellers must also demonstrate their own flexibility. Of course, this means meeting buyers where they are, whether in virtual, a conference room, or on a golf course. While virtual was and still is a common solution since the onset of the pandemic, there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction to build rapport. In addition, these simple steps inspire trust:

  • Adjust your communication style to the varying needs of your initial contacts and other decision makers
  • Address direct communicators in a direct fashion, being sure to use tact
  • Soften your approach with indirect communicators
  • Mind your body language to express interest, warmth, and understanding  
  • Allow your sense of humor to develop over time and as you build rapport

The key to flexibility is a willingness to meet buyers more than halfway. This shows you value their needs as much as your own. Even more, it indicates a desire to achieve win-win outcomes.

Though many had hoped for a quick return to normal, we can see the changes brought by COVID will linger. Of course, readers of French philosophy—and sellers who rocked out to the Canadian band Rush in the ‘80s—well know the simple phrase Plus ca change, plus c’est la même chose: The more things change, the more they stay the same. As we updated and revised our skills, processes, and even our modes of communication, a constant in sales is the need to build trust. While this has been true of professional salespeople from the beginning, it’s most needed during uncertain times. More than the products you sell, the trust you inspire will influence the success buyers and sellers achieve in the post-COVID world.