22 Nov Soft Skills, Hard Truths
Just out of the office of a well-trained and experienced Physicians Assistant at a busy Cosmetic Surgeon’s office. Her comment: “Even though it’s cheaper, I won’t buy the other product because I don’t like the rep!”
In commoditized, competitive markets, client-facing reps often underestimate (or are unaware of) the importance of their interaction skills when it comes to sales success. Clients buy for many reasons, some of which might seem to defy logic. This includes buying a more expensive product when a cheaper, comparable alternative is available. Boasting a good product and a competitive price is table stakes for even getting meetings with your clients, but you can’t bank on that to actually win you the business.
More often than not, in competitive sales situations, distinguishing yourself comes down to you and your ability to create authentic connections. In the words of Stephen Covey, “They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Establishing yourself as empathetic and trust worthy creates the lens through which your clients will perceive everything you say and do.
Here are a few elegantly simple tips for building trust and connection:
- Breathe. Seriously. Before going into your client’s office, presence yourself, slow down your breath, and set an intention to be of genuine service. These steps will help you pace your speaking voice to be enthusiastic, but not overwhelming. Your vocal chords will relax, lowering your vocal tone and slowing your intonation, which in turn, lend credibility to your demeanor. When relaxed and presenced, your handshake will be warm and dry. Your listening will be more attuned so you can pick up on subtext and nuance in what clients are saying… and not saying. This helps your questions to be more insightful, which in turn enhances your credibility and the client’s trust in you. At any given moment, be aware of your handshake, your smile, your word choice, your speaking pace, your eye contact, your breath.
- Cultivate trust. The effort to presence yourself helps you create a context in which the client trusts you. Next it’s important to not break that trust. Do not breach, ever, the karmic rule that says: don’t talk trash about your competitors. Stick to facts, and focus your discussion on your own merit, and that of your own products and services. And with only minutes – or even seconds – to come across persuasively, follow a simple formula for presenting your products and services in the most compelling light: open your presentation by emphasizing the match between the need your client perceives they have and the benefits your product or service deliver. And be impeccable in your word.
How much your client is willing to pay for your products and services is directly influenced by their sense that you care, and that they can trust what you say about your solutions.
As my Physicians Assistant illustrated in her story: your presence and your trustworthiness are priceless.