Why Customers "Don't Trust Sales People"

Overcoming Negative Public Opinions

Couple going over paperwork with financial advisor
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There is a mindset of distrust in the business world. One that permeates virtually every industry and is widely accepted as truth. This mindset is based on a belief that those in sales are not to be trusted.

While there are certainly those, who call themselves "sales professionals" who choose their interests over those of their customers and their employees, those who are truly professional in their approach to conducting business arefaced with a widespread prejudice that must be overcome.

The Foundation of the Belief

Most have probably heard the term "snake oil." Essentially, snake oil refers to a product that is touted as being able to solve challenges, but that does nothing more than separate a customer from his money. There have been, and continue to be those who knowingly position a product or service that they know will not deliver the expectations that are held by those who purchase the product. In effect, the salesperson knowingly misrepresented the product and focused his efforts on "scamming" the customer out of money.

This "lose-win" approach to sales has always been a part of the sales industry and continues today. Sales professionals are continually faced, especially when prospecting for new customers, with a general distrust of those in sales.

When to Expect the Challenge

For the most part, customers who have established a relationship built on trust with a sales professional believe that their representative has their best interests in mind.

Though they may have begun their relationship with a sales rep with the belief that "sales people cannot be trusted," the sales person has proven themselves to be an exception to the negative belief.

But getting to this point of mutual trust takes time, diligence and an honest approach to each step in the sales cycle.

And until a sales professional has established a positive rapport with a customer, he will most likely have to overcome a negative perception of his profession.

How to Respond to the Belief

In sales, an overly strong defense or a lengthy response to an accusation is often an indication of fear. The English playwright Shakespeare, in his play Romeo and Juliet wrote a line that can serve as a powerful sales technique. The line simply read "the lady doth protest too much." What this means is that is someone protests or defends a position too strongly, they are admitting that the accusation holds some level of truth.

Think about a time when you asked a prospect whether or not there were any reasons why they would not choose your product or service, and the customer responded with a long-winded answer. If your business acumen were strong, you probably would have been suspicious of the answer. If instead, the customer answered with a simple "no" or a "yes" with a detailed explanation, you would have taken the customer's word as truth.

If you are faced with a prospect or client who verbalizes their distrust of those in sales, your best response should be something like "I understand that you may have been deceived by someone claiming to be a sales professional in the past.

However, I take my role seriously and will only suggest a solution that I am confident will deliver your expectations."

Short and sweet and will let the customer know that the negative belief does not apply to you and your approach to sales.

Your Global Responsibility

As a sales professional who is focused on long-term career success, your main responsibility is to profitably serve your customers. This means that you take an honest approach and make sure that you under promise and over deliver. That your product or service is well matched to your customer's needs and that the pricing you proposed fits their budget, delivers profit to your company and will improve your financial position.

By adopting this approach, you will be, slowly but surely, eliminating the negative public perception of sales professionals.

You will be enhancing your professional image while showing others that, while there are those in sales who are not to be trusted, you are part of a growing number of sales professionals who base their business approach from a position of integrity and honesty.

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