Buyers do business with you, not with your company and not with technology. Whether you’re a new hire or a veteran sales rep, they trust you more than the business. How often have you met a warm and engaging salesperson, but couldn’t use what he was selling? You go out of your way to refer him to someone else, right? Because you like and trust that person, you want to help.
The opposite is also true. A pushy, arrogant salesperson (the kind that gives us all a bad reputation) might have a fantastic product, but there’s no way we would buy from him.
That’s why I resonated with this guest post from sales expert Linda Richardson. Here’s what she has to say about why CEOs talk to us, let alone buy from us:
“For the past few years, I have faithfully read ‘Corner Office’ by Adam Bryant—a weekly New York Times column featuring interviews with CEOs. My favorite part is always the final two questions, which focus on what CEOs look for when interviewing job candidates.
While all the CEOs Bryant features look for different things in potential employees, they consistently agree on two important criteria. They assess:
- The technical proficiency of candidates
- The person within
In other words, they won’t hire until they have a feel for the person—what the individual values and what makes him or her tick.
The Personal Touch Matters
It occurs to me that the very things CEOs assess in job interviews are also front of mind when they decide whether to buy from salespeople.
Today, getting to the executive sponsor is almost always necessary to close business. So salespeople can really differentiate themselves by understanding what executives evaluate when making buying decisions.
Of course, we know conversations at the executive level must be strategic. But what is happening (person to person) as business issues and solutions are discussed? And how much does that matter?
Trust Trumps Competency
In the Harvard Business Review article, ‘Connect, Then Lead,’ authors Cuddy, Kohut, and Neffinger equate warmth with trust. They conclude that the way to influence is to exude warmth before demonstrating competency, because warmth underlies trustworthiness.
As a salesperson, you are the primary creator of the experience clients have with your company. So for them to trust the company, they must trust you. Yes, you must be informed and insightful when helping clients identify and solve business problems, offering evidence of value with hard metrics. But you must also establish trust so they relate positively to you as a person and believe what you say. Technology makes for efficient communication, but clients who see you and feel your passion will connect better with you.
What CEOs Want From You
There are common themes among the qualities executives look for as they interview, which I think are the very same things they want to see when meeting with you. These include:
- How you think vs. how you interview (or sell)
- Your non-verbal presence
- How you feel about issues, points, and organizations
- Whether you share their goals
- How well you relate to them
- Your ability to answer questions with credibility and authority
- Your capacity to handle adversity
- Your courage to say what needs to be said, not what you think they want to hear
- Your use of good, old-fashioned manners
- Signs you are a hard worker and can accomplish the tough things that need to get done
All of these add up to one important question: Are you trustworthy?
Without trust, executives will not do business with you. By being exceptionally competent and showing genuine warmth, you give them the confidence to buy from you.”
How do you ensure that you come across as warm and trustworthy?
Linda Richardson is the founder and executive chairwoman of Richardson, a global sales training business. She is a prolific writer and her newly-released book is Changing the Sales Conversation (McGraw-Hill, 2014). Linda consults with sales leaders and sales teams on sales strategy and sales performance. A recognized leader in the industry, she won the coveted Stevie Award for “Lifetime Achievement in Sales Excellence” in 2006 and in 2007. She was also identified by Training Industry, Inc., as one of the “Top 20 Most Influential Training Professionals.” She teaches sales and sales coaching at the Wharton School University of Pennsylvania. Visit www.lindarichardson.com to learn more.