One sales technique that is very success for building credibility with your prospects and customers is to trade information. When coaching sales people about this topic I always get the same questionâ€¦ What information do I trade?
There are four types of information that you can trade with prospects or customer. They areâ€¦
- Process knowledge – share tips or best practices that you have learned or seen at other companies over the years. If you happen to be new – then ask the experienced sales people about the best practices they have seen and shared with their customers. Find out what has worked and has not worked with different customers.
- Industry knowledge – While this is similar to the process, it is different since it deals with industry standards or trends. Industry trends seem to have more value to prospects and customers since it may involve getting a head start or advantage in the marketplace. Remember, who ever gets to the market first with a new idea or product usually establishes a leader position that is difficult for others to overcome. Go to industry trade associations and conferences to hear the latest about your industry.
Here is an example, several years ago I was able to attend a conference where supply chain issues were discussed in depth. The interesting thing I found was the lack of knowledge or even basic understanding of the concept by most of the leadership in the industry. Later, I was able to use this information with several prospects who realized this was very important to major accounts. The insider information gained at the conference allowed my to assist a prospect who become a “major account” for me!
- Success Stories – Share some situations that you were involved with that improved your customer’s situation – be it increasing revenues or decreasing expenses. Success stories can be generic without disclosing any specific customer or client information. The key to connect the dots regarding your experience in solving a particular type of issue. The fact that you have dealt with a similar issue or concern held by the customer or prospect shows you can be a greater asset to prospect or customer than some other person without any experience or successful intervention. Again, credibility gains a competitive advantage.
- Observation Sharing – When you get an opportunity to tour their plant or operation, make mental notes about the things you see. What could be done better? What have you seen else where that was an improvement over the method they are using? And, who else could assist them in an area of concern that you noted during a “walk around?” I need an excellent salesman who had two skills – one he was very observant and creative – so when he noticed things he would share a potential solution even in areas he could not make a sale. The second area was he was well connected in multiple industries. He used this knowledge to get his customers and prospects together on projects or line up potential sales between the two companies. This activity had a very positive impact on his customers and his competition could not move him out. He controlled the customer satisfaction index.
There you have the basics of “trading information.” Remember the most important thing is to be asking questions and listening to the responses. However, you must be prepared to share information or the prospect or customer will begin to feel as if they are being interrogated. So rather than just “yakking” about yourself, your product or service, or product details – use the big four above and you will make more sales.