Trusted Selling represents a proven, successful and intelligent sales process based on calculating 'trusted credits' for prospective customers. Through the Trusted Selling Process, sales professional can easily access their competitive advantages, smartly qualify the most successful business opportunity, schedule a sales call with the best timing and establish royal customers at the lowest opportunity cost. This practical sales approach is suitable for all B2B selling, and is especially useful for sales strategic planning in the international marketplace.
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By Mentrick J.H. Xie Helen Lampert
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Mentrick J.H. Xie, Helen Lampert
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTRUSTED SELLING
Welcome to Trusted Selling®. Trusted Selling is a proven strategy to build loyal sales and business relationships. It has been designed on the strongest possible foundation for success — the trust factor.
In this chapter we will examine:
1. Trusted Selling
2. Trust and Its Imperatives
3. The Power of Trust
1. Trusted Selling
Trusted Selling is like a loyalty program. It rewards you and your customers for engaging in an open, honest, positive sales process. It builds confidence and credit. It leads to increased sales and loyal satisfied customers. In short, Trusted Selling assures trusted long-term relationships, where expectations are clear, and trust is certain.
Trusted Selling does more than focus on identifying customer needs and offering solutions in the traditional manner. Trusted Selling allows sales professionals to present comprehensive sales solutions that are more far-reaching and effective, deliver value efficiently, and build customer trust.
increases the satisfaction of customers,
presents 'trusted solutions' rather than 'products or services',
actually delivers value in a tangible way,
establishes strong customer relationships,
builds brand loyalty
In the new era of internet domination and globalization, customers have become much smarter with regards to product choices, market trends, and purchasing decisions. They have also become much more demanding about what they need and what they want. The globalized economy offers more options and channels than ever before. Today's customers are not just concerned about the benefits they can derive from your products and services. They are equally concerned about how your products, services and company differ from your competitors and why. They compare, contrast and make educated decisions.
Trusted Selling addresses the concerns of today's global shopper and provides a process to prepare sales professionals for those new challenges in the market. And it has been tested and validated in a variety of different cultural markets including Asia, Europe and Northern America.
Trusted Selling enables customers to benefit from an integrated sales approach where a sales professional represents a company and provides more than just product information and delivery. Trusted Selling equips the sales representative to also bring proactive professional service and management to the process. In Trusted Selling, all the factors combine, the best product, prestigious brand names, excellent sales service and support to give the customer an outstanding sales experience that he trusts in.
To achieve Trusted Selling, each part of the customer experience must be well executed from the product to the price to the service to the follow through. If any aspect or factor disappoints, then trust breaks down and the value of the Trusted Selling system will be substantially discounted.
Trusted Selling starts with perfect timing. The right approach at the right time is key. Every moment you spend with a customer represents an opportunity cost. Good timing maximizes your opportunities by putting you in front of prospects at the appropriate moment. Bad timing leads to low customer interest, no need, and time wasted. Trusted Selling outlines a process to schedule appointments with prospects and to analyse their 'readiness' for the sale. Trusted Selling shows you how to prioritize appointment-making to meet your goals and to minimize your costs. Good timing is a critical piece of the strategic sales marketing plan.
Comparing Trusted Selling to the world of medicine, the 'product or service' is considered a treatment, the sales representative functions like a diagnostician in a clinic and the prospect is like a patient. The task of the sales representative is to find out if the patient needs a treatment and how he/she should undertake the treatment for his or her greatest benefit. Therefore, the sale representative should be knowledgeable about the customers' situation and also understand the pros and cons of this treatment compared to other treatments. Trusted Selling sales professionals understand the industries they work in, they are aware of the dilemmas their prospective customers face and the options available in the marketplace. In order to achieve a Trusted Selling relationship, the sales representative must demonstrate his deep knowledge, expert diagnostic abilities and wide range of possible solutions.
Trusted Selling is committed to delivering the maximum satisfaction to customers. It requires sales representatives to go beyond uncovering customers needs and wants, and offering 'products or services' to meet those needs. In Trusted Selling, sales representatives help customers to recognize the benefits of the solution, to weigh the pros and cons by comparison of other possible solutions in the industry, and see the value in the solution they have proposed.
Trusted Selling ends with delivering value to customers. No matter how excellent your solution is and how much potential value it can bring your customers, no 'credit' is added to your "trust account" until the products and services are actually delivered and implemented.
2. Trust and Its Imperatives
Trust is understood to mean a firm reliance on the integrity, ability or character of a person or thing. It is also a dependence on something future or contingent. Trust is essential for any trading. It underlies every business transaction between buyers and sellers. As a customer you must have faith in the person you are dealing with. If you suspect that a sales representative is not being entirely honest, it is highly unlikely that you will trust him or want to deal with him. Similarly the sales representative needs to trust the customer (to pay his bills, or fulfill his obligations). Doubt in either party's mind can destroy trust and undermine the relationship. Trust is a must for establishing long-term partnership business relationships. It is difficult to build and easy to lose. And when it is lost, it is very hard to regain.
North American research conducted by Roger Dow, Lisa Napolitano & Mike Pusateri, showed that trust is established through five cognitive processes: calculation, prediction, intentionality, capability and transference. Think of any sales transaction between a buyer and a seller.
The calculative process is based on the buyers' perception of what the supplier has to lose if he does not meet his promise. It is relative to the suppliers' reputation, size, and length of the relationship with the buyer.
The prediction process refers to the buyers' ability to forecast suppliers' future action. This depends strongly on the former performance of supplier.
The intentionality process depends upon the buyer's view of the sales representative's motives for the sale. The buyer must believe the intent of the sale is to positively benefit both parties.
The capability process focuses on the economic factors such as the sellers' production ability, logistic control ability, financial base, expertise and human resources. Past history and favorable public reputation are very influential in a buyer's mind when deciding if the supplier can fulfill their promises.
The transference process refers to trust credits that 'transfer' from the corporation to the sales team. A sales representative from Fortune 500 enterprises earns more trust credits than a representative from a smaller less-known company. The favorable reputation of leading corporations immediately adds to the trust credit of the representative. Distrust is also easily transferable, that is why we need to pay attention to any action that might damage trust.
Based on their research, Dow, Napolitano & Pusateri concluded that these five processes can be sorted by their importance in terms of establishing trust: 1)capability, 2) predictive, 3)calculative, 4)intentionality and 5)transference. That is to say, buyers see the capability of a seller as the most important factor in building their trusting relationship. Past performance or achievements by the seller is the 2nd highest ranked factor in the trust building process. The rest of the factors rank significantly lower.
This investigation was undertaken in a North American market and to check against potential cultural variances in other markets, a similar investigation was conducted by questioning 250 top business executives in the Chinese community in Toronto, Vancouver, Hong Kong and mainland China. The results showed that the prediction process overtakes capability and is clearly viewed as the top imperative. The following processes are intentionality, capability, calculative and transference. This demonstrates quite a different picture within the two cultures and presents a very strong argument for the strategy of thinking globally and acting locally. This is also a useful input for Trusted Selling process where we consider understanding the prospect a critical step in achieving the goal of building trust.
3. The Power of Trust
Trusted Selling brings benefits to everyone involved in the process - manufacturers, suppliers, sellers, and customers. When a trusted relationship is established, manufacturers and retailers can share confidential information, learn about each other's businesses and customers, and invest in ways to customize their systems and services for better collaboration. Trusted Selling relationships can help cut down monitoring costs, increase efficiencies and deliver more value to customers. In turn, the customers enjoy better service, improved product choices and possibly lower prices due to overall lower costs of doing business.
Trusted Selling increases sales volumes, reduces costs and boosts profits. Working as partners in Trusted Selling, retailers and manufacturers can provide the greatest value to customers at the lowest possible cost. Furthermore organizations engaged in Trusted Selling have the ability to proactively change the marketplace, introduce more innovative customer programs and set service standards out of reach of their competitors.
Chapter TwoTHE PROCESS OF TRUSTED SELLING
Trusted Selling in a sales process made up of 9 key concepts:
1. Do Your Homework
2. Understand Your Strengths and Maximize Trusted Factors
3. Consolidate Your Trust Factors
4. Timing is Everything
5. Trust is a Must
6. Make Value Tangible
7. Deliver More than a Solution
8. Convert Trust Credits into Loyalty Relationships
9. The Trusted Selling Process
1. Do Your Homework
The word "Trust" implies placing confidence in someone. The first concept in this process deals with the confidence you need to ready yourself to sell. "Do Your Homework' means finding out every truth you can about yourself, you company, your products, your competition and most importantly, your customers.
2. Understand Your Strengths and Maximize your Trusted Factors
First, it is important that you understand your own strengths and weaknesses as a trusted sales professional. To substantiate your trusted power, complete the chart that follows. Be honest because this is an opportunity for you to learn about yourself.
Look at the sample chart that has been completed (Figure 1) and then fill in your own. (Figure 2)
Take at critical look at the information that is revealed in this sample chart. Consider the weaknesses and the strength of this sales professional. What can be learned?
This sales professional needs to be less aggressive when seeking a big sale. Most importantly, he needs to follow through after all sales and ensure that the customer is completely satisfied. This will open the door for more opportunities.
Competitors have entered the marketplace. This sales professional needs to quickly expand his competitive information and understand his differentiators. He needs to be ready to promote and defend his products and services.
Taking time to find a clearer way to explain the technology aspects of the products to potential will help this sales professional succeed. What seems easy to him, with his engineering background, may not be so easy for his customers. He needs to tell a story his customers can understand.
His positive outlook and depth of experience should help him succeed. He can leverage previous experience and expertise in the industry to impress his customers and build instant trust.
He must learn to prioritize and stay on track. He is easily diverted from the important work and this will ultimately undermine his potential.
Now complete this table for yourself. Remember - be honest with yourself. It is a learning tool for your reflection.
Once you have completed your personal chart of strengths and weaknesses, reflect on it. Pay attention to the things you are doing well and ensure that you continue doing those things. Build on your strengths, expand them, and apply them. Now look at areas to improve, strengthen or build. Here is where you can really make a difference. Based on your own notes, clarify what you need to stop doing or change. Identify new tactics or approaches you can use. Set some goals and keep a journal that helps you focus.
You should review and analyze every sales call you make, particularly the first visit. After the call, briefly note why the call succeeds or fails. Were you able to uncover the needs and the wants of the targeted company? Do you know who the decision makers are? What do you know about the decision makers, their personal character and background? Did you maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses?
Good post-call notes contain very important information for further business building.
Conduct a SWOT analysis on the company you represent. By understanding your company better, you can transform its trusted strength into your presentable trusted values.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A SWOT analysis identifies the strong points and weakness of a business and helps businesses stay proactive against potential threats. It also prepares companies for the coming opportunities. SWOT analysis is a useful tool to audit a company and its environment. It is also a very useful process for the sales professional building his knowledge and confidence in the company. It helps pinpoint company strengths and enables sales representatives to deliver more trusted value to their customers. It is good practice to conduct a SWOT analysis once every season in order to update trusted factors and identify issues. Please note that a SWOT analysis is a subjective analysis and requires a neutral viewpoint for an accurate output. Strengths and Weaknesses are generally internal factors that could be controlled by the management (such as good training — a strength, or obsolete equipment — a weakness) while Opportunities and Threats are external factors that usually are uncontrollable (such as economic upswings — an opportunity, or growing competition — a threat). When conducting a SWOT analysis review all aspects of your business, people, processes, products and competitors.
By conducting a SWOT analysis, you are prepared to seize the opportunities and face the challenges. In this way, you not only summarize and prioritize your trusted strengths internally and externally, but also plan proactively for the internal challenges and outside threats. The strategy of doing an annual SWOT analysis actually builds your own strength or trust factors. It clearly demonstrates that you and your company are putting the strategies in place to continue to enjoy long-term success.
Know your Target Customers
We've talked about knowing yourself as a sales professional, and knowing the company and products you are representing through a SWOT analysis. This includes knowing your competitors, their products and services and how they compare to yours. The next step is to know your customers.
It is essential to understand your customers' needs and wants in order to deliver the trusted value of your products or services. Often we learn what our customers' need and want by doing research online, getting information from trade publications, gaining insights from key leaders in the industry, or connecting with the insiders at the target company. But we get the best information by asking intelligent questions right in the sales call with the customer. Direct feedback from the customer is the only way to truly ascertain what our target customer needs or wants. Don't assume, estimate, or project what your customer will need or want. Doing so will only waste your time and potentially result in a missed opportunity if you head on the wrong direction.
Excerpted from Trusted Selling by Mentrick J.H. Xie Helen Lampert Copyright © 2010 by Mentrick J.H. Xie, Helen Lampert. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
1. Trusted Selling....................1
2. Trust and Its Imperatives....................7
3. The Power of Trust....................11
1. Do Your Homework....................16
2. Understand Your Strengths and Maximize Trusted Factors....................18
3. Consolidate Your Trust Factors....................39
4. Timing is Everything....................56
5. Trust is a Must....................58
6. Make Value Tangible....................63
7. Deliver More Than a Solution....................67
8. Convert Trust Credits into Loyalty Relationships....................69
9. Trusted Selling Process....................72
1. Keys to Success....................80
2. What Not To Do....................84
3. Trust Across Cultures....................87
4. The Trusted Selling Difference....................90
1. Trusted Sales Professionals....................95
2. Trusted Corporations....................97
3. Trusted Systems....................100
4. Trusted Management....................102