If you’re anything like me, missed sales opportunities eat you alive. Nothing feels more deflating than a string of lost opportunities that leaves yourself asking a very difficult question to answer — what am I doing wrong?
Even amid a successful month of sales, you may find yourself revisiting those failed opportunities in your mind, knowing you could have done even better but struggling to understand exactly what went wrong. Throughout my career, I’ve developed techniques to help me identify those answers, and I can’t wait to share them with you. There’s so much to unpack here, and it begins with two main questions:
- What are the most common sales challenges that ruin the deal?
- How can I master the sales trust equation to avoid those problems and maximize my results?
The Sales Challenge
What is the biggest factor that prevents you from winning a new client?
Every salesperson struggles with different challenges during the sales process, but the amalgamation of those struggles ultimately results in a universal truth: you don’t fully understand the buyer’s pains, problems, and challenges, preventing you from identifying how your product or service specifically solves their problems, makes their lives better, and is an undeniable choice.
In turn, they lose interest in you and decide to look elsewhere for the real solution they are after. So, how do you correct that?
Dissect the Sales Process
Like any profession, sales requires extreme effort to identify areas of improvement. Professional athletes don’t just play a game and move onto the next one, right? No, they take the time to rewatch their games, identify mistakes, and correct them. Likewise, chefs spend hours in the kitchen reworking failed attempts and use their knowledge to perfect their creation.
Sales is no different. Your potential as a salesperson is immense, but if you want to uncover it, you have to take the time necessary to understand what caused you to fail.
Dissecting the sales process is the first step in identifying and correcting your mistakes. After failing to close the deal, you can’t just move on and think to yourself, “Well, better luck next time.”
Use Chorus or another video recording solution to rewatch your sales pitch from beginning to end. This investigation should go beyond lazy excuses — our price was too high; the competitor offered an additional feature; the buyer was happy with their current provider.
While these challenges may be partially true, it’s your job as the salesperson to overcome them and speak to your buyer’s heart. While rewatching your sales pitch, try to identify signs of your buyer transitioning from enthusiastic to unengaged:
- Does their body language or expression worsen throughout the call, especially after answering one of their questions?
- Do they become distracted by emails or other things happening around them?
- Are there times you don’t bring your best self to the meeting or remain intentional and engaged with your buyer?
If any or all of these are true, there’s a high probability that you missed the mark somewhere along the way. You thought their biggest pain point was something entirely different than what they actually struggle with, causing them to become unengaged and seek a solution elsewhere.
There are a plethora of signs of an unaligned buyer, and dissecting the sales process to identify areas of improvement you can make is a necessary step to take before diving into the sales trust equation.
The Trust Equation in Sales
As a salesperson, you have the arduous task of developing trust with a buyer. I don’t have to be the first one to tell you how difficult that is, but finding ways to allow your buyers to trust you to the fullest is an invaluable skill for salespeople to master. Understanding the trust equation and its various components is a great way to begin building trust with your buyers.
What is the trust equation
The trust equation consists of three main components — credibility, business intelligence, and perceived self-interest — which equal trust in the mind of the buyer.
The trust equation is all about maximizing your credibility and business intelligence to offset a buyer’s preconceived notions about your self-interest, thus resulting in a trustworthy, mutually beneficial relationship. There’s much more to each part of the equation, so let’s dig into it.
1.) Perceived self- interest
No matter how honest and righteous you are, your professional title automatically makes people think a certain way. Any prospect looks at you and assumes you have an agenda — make a sale that benefits you, even if it’s not in my best interest as a buyer.
Unless you’ve already established a relationship with the prospect during a previous sale, this preconception follows you throughout every conversation you have — the initial outbound message, the first conversation qualifying an inbound lead, and even on referrals.
Regardless of how pure your intentions are, initial buyers have been molded to look at you through this lens. However, you can decrease the perceived self-interest by proving two things to your prospect: credibility and business intelligence.
From a buyer’s perspective, have you ever dealt with a salesperson who lacks credibility in their field? These are some of the most infuriating conversations to have. Within the first couple of minutes, you can clearly identify that this person is not well-equipped to listen to your pains, problems, and challenges, instead deciding to follow their scripted sales prompt to a tee.\
One of the most important steps you can take in establishing credibility is first creating your sales story. A sales story gives you the chance to cultivate an authentic, emotional relationship with your buyer and prove your credibility as a salesperson. For a deep dive into creating your story, check out my previous post, “Why Every Salesperson Needs a Sales Story, and How to Tell Yours.”
Mastering your sales story sets you up for success when it comes time to prove your credibility to a buyer. It’s important to remember that experience does not always translate to credibility. Experience can certainly be an important part of your credibility pitch, but it really comes down to using what you’ve learned and accomplished to set yourself apart.
This allows you to relate to a potential buyer as a human being, not a business title. Consider their day-to-day life to uncover why they are emotionally invested in speaking with you, and what the real solution they’re seeking is.
Your ability to establish credibility begins to change the perceived self-interest automatically placed upon you at the beginning of the sale. Now, it’s time to complete the trust equation by proving your business acumen.
3.) Business Intelligence
Even if you have unbeatable credibility as a salesperson, it will become completely meaningless if you are uneducated about the buyer’s industry. If you don’t take the time to research your prospect’s industry and become knowledgeable about their business, it will show right off the bat — and there’s nothing you can do to reverse it.
There are no shortcuts to learning about an unfamiliar industry; it takes discipline, effort, and organization to prepare yourself for the first meeting and set yourself up for success.
When you show a prospect that you’ve put in the time to become intimately aware of their company’s operations, pain points, and challenges, it furthers your credibility. From there, you now have the knowledge and intelligence to follow a critical conversational process:
- “I’ve realized that most companies in your situation struggle with [fill in the blank].” — You’ve done enough research to become experts on the industry and recognize some major pain points that this buyer is struggling with.
- “These pains are a result of [fill in the blank].” — Your knowledge of the industry allows you to identify some key factors that could be leading to this challenge, including industry growth, size of the company, and more.
- “This is a problem we solve, and here’s how we do it.” — After identifying their major challenge and why they are experiencing it, now the stage is yours to show why you are the solution to their unique problem.
Imagine if you entered this conversation having done minimal research on the industry and the company itself. More than likely, you’ll completely miss the mark on what their problem is, make a fool of yourself as a salesperson, and make it a no-brainer decision for the prospect to look elsewhere.
One final piece of mastering the trust equation in sales and getting over the hump of failed sales conversions comes down to the way you communicate. Three of the most important attributes to remember are passion, conviction, and enthusiasm (PCE). I covered this topic extensively in a previous post, so make sure to read more and learn about the importance of PCE in converting sales opportunities.
So, what’s next? There’s a world of engaging, rewarding sales conversations waiting to be led — by you! Now that you understand the components of the trust equation in sales, it’s time for you to discover the areas you can improve on. Here’s what you can do.
- Start Using PCE — Read through my previous deep dive into PCE to learn how to integrate it into your communications arsenal.
- Dissect Past Sales Failures — Go rewatch your last sales meeting to identify areas where you didn’t prove your credibility or business intelligence. Use what you learn about PCE to spot times where you could improve passion, conviction, and enthusiasm in your delivery.
For a colorful dive into the trust equation in sales, listen to the corresponding episode of the Quota Crusher™ Podcast™.
Want to take it further? Complete the 20-minute online sales course, Mastering the Trust Equation in Sales.