Posted inBusiness Etiquette / Business Growth

Earning the Right to Sell: Building Rapport and Developing Trust First

earning the right to sell

Have you ever felt instant regret?

The kind that makes you wish you never accepted that LinkedIn request. Hoping this time it was going to be different. After all, they had a creative and engaging connection request.

I have been an open networker on social media for years. However, like everyone else, I have limits. The term ‘social selling’ has gone overboard since it is a fine line between being eager to pitch what you do and being a spammer. How many messages does one need to send out before realizing it is a bad idea to ask for time on someones calendar in their first interaction? The last time I checked, most people dont have time to donate to people they have zero rapport with. This is also why cold calling is now dead and irritates people. 

Many sales professionals and entrepreneurs doing outreach need to think of how they would talk to someone they just met at a dinner party or while volunteering as examples. Would you start hard-selling your product or service when you first meet? Likely not since you know they would run in the other direction and not speak to you for the rest of your time there. How is a cold pitch any different? There needs to be proper consideration for developing a relationship from the onset first. Learning more about a prospect’s needs before assuming they may want what you offer. Teams and individuals need to have an effective approach to win new business. 

This is also why you need to earn the right to sell. That is, develop rapport and trust with the person from the onset, so they are interested in learning more and considering purchasing from you.

As sales king Jeffrey Gitomer puts it: “People don’t like to be sold to, but they love to buy.”

The relationship always comes first. Any long-term transaction always starts and ends here.

So how do you earn the right to gain someones attention?

You start at the foundation by developing a trusted relationship with your brand by providing value in interactions. This can be done effectively with content, social proof, or relationship-focused customer-centric outreach. 

Customer referrals can expedite the process and develop instant trust when they come from the right person. But since you cannot control the timing, you need a sales and marketing strategy that attracts and doesnt repel. Rather than pushing or pulling, sales and marketing messages that will attract new opportunities (more Jeffrey Gitomer gold). 

The trick is to think like the person on the receiving end of your messaging, whether it is in sales direct outreach or marketing messages.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I sharing information that will educate the prospect to make an informed decision?
  • Are the benefits of what I offer clear in our bios/profiles/website for the problem I solve and offer?
  • Am I making assumptions about this person’s needs even though I know nothing about them? (This is a blind spot for developing generic “customer personas”)
  • Am I being personable enough to make a new friend that will give me some of their time to start a new relationship? 
  • Am I being compelling and using good qualifying questions when I initiate contact? 
  • Is my content interesting, educational, and generating intrigue? 

Over the years, I have given sales training to entrepreneurs eager to grow their companies. Having qualifying questions and selling your ideas like a strategic advisor is key. Listening and serving the prospectsneeds and not your own to generate sales is the difference between success and failure. Not everyone can work together, so you need to find out if compatibility exists in the first place. 

Thanks to social media, sales and marketing are more integrated than ever. Social media empowers organizations to access customers worldwide in real-time. It has changed how we connect and develop relationships with others. Providing value with branded content does much of the work for sales interactions at scale today.

Social content allows you:

  • Grow brand awareness
  • Demonstrate expertise in topics
  • Address pain points to solve problems or provide transformations
  • Stay visible and top of mind
  • Follow up with leads at scale
  • Demonstrate social proof 
  • Develop authority for personal brands 

Marketing and sales roles have similar objectives on revenue teams today. Both functions now rely on growing awareness by making connections through engagement and content.

A few best practices for using social media to engage an audience of prospects include:
  • Putting yourself out there and generously sharing your expertise
  • Being interesting
  • Using humour 
  • Responding to comments
  • Engaging with followers/prospects on THEIR content 
  • Sharing content that isn’t always business-related
  • Having fun connecting with people 
Social proof assets can help to build authority and earn trust for your brand 24/7. Some different accelerators include:
  • Google reviews
  • Client testimonials (website, social, newsletters)
  • Social cards with industry stats/customer quotes
  • Case studies
  • Media coverage
  • Customer referrals
  • Portfolio of your work
  • Show up consistently on social media with engaging content  
A strong personal brand on social media accelerates attracting opportunities. 

Solid personal brands have demonstrated authority and are subject matter experts. They attract opportunities to them. Publishing thought leadership content attracts your ideal customer to you and builds trust at scale if your content hits the mark. If sales leads follow you socially, showing up consistently and sharing content that speaks to them is like discreetly following up, except that they will be the ones reaching out to you.  

Social media has opened the door to being able to connect with just about anyone. If you want to earn the right to sell and get attention to your offers, you must first focus on developing rapport and trust.  

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