One of the most difficult things about being a salesperson, whether or not it’s real estate you’re selling, is getting people to trust you, and to do so relatively quickly. Whether you’re prospecting, meeting with new clients, networking, or, for that matter, on a first date, your ability to get the recipient of your message to trust you is paramount to your success in sales. Why?
Bottom line: people buy from people they like and trust.
So, how do you get them to like and trust you, especially when you have a limited amount of time with them? It isn’t easy, but there are seven easy-to-follow tips for helping you bridge the gap between stranger and trusted resource. Next time you’re with someone you want to trust you, try one (or all) of these. After all, you want the second date, right?
1) Build Commonality
Building commonality is the easiest way to build trust because people like people who have shared experiences or interests with them. People also really like to talk about themselves, so having something to start conversations with is an invaluable tool. In my experience, the best salespeople are either well-read, well-travelled, or both. People who are one or all of those are able to talk on a breadth of subjects. So, if you aren’t well-travelled, start your bucket list. If you aren’t well-read, get a Kindle or hit up iBooks. At the very least, scan the local and national headlines each morning so you are up-to-date on what’s happening in the world.
2) Ask Non-Threatening Questions
Safe, broad-based, open-ended questions are the safest route to start a conversation with someone you don’t know well. Don’t touch on sensitive subjects, yet. Just get them, and keep them, talking. Remember the good ole 80/20 rule? That’s what you should follow when it comes to how much you are speaking during this process (you’re the 20, by the way). As you begin to build up a comfort level with them, then you can move on to the deeper stuff.
3) Give Positive, Non-Judgmental Feedback
Most people who are in the process of making a big decision just want to make sure that they aren’t crazy for making the decision. As such, they want help justifying their buying decision. Think of amazon.com if you need proof. People make decisions on fairly run-of-the-mill purchases that really shouldn’t require much thought by reading the opinions of complete and total strangers and taking them as though they are the gospel truth. Be there and be supportive. Don’t agree for the sake of agreeing or just to get a paycheck. Be honest and be yourself, but be objective. If you disagree, make sure you know the motivation behind the criteria and then weigh in with facts, not your opinion.
4) Do For, Not To
Be a resource. Be proactive. Go beyond average or what is expected. Be an expert. Be a resource. Don’t just sit there and make them ask every time they need something. Anticipate and act. Don’t be reactive. Systems and processes will help, but at the end of the day, having a servant’s heart is where you make the real difference with people. Empathy and understanding, true caring, that’s what makes people trust you. That’s when you connect with people on a level that others won’t. You want to build a referral engine? Want to be someone’s “Realtor for life”? That’s how you do it.
5) Listen, Listen, Listen
I had a boss one time, a really great boss, who would walk into every sales call, take out his notepad (this was way before the days of an iPad) and write, in big, huge, all-caps across the top of the page, SHUT UP! It was pretty awesome. It taught me early on that listening was the most important part of selling. The funniest part of the sales calls we would go on is that when it was appropriate for him to say something in response to the client he would just sit there. It was so awkward. Every ounce of my being just wanted to say something, anything to break the silence. Somewhere between 5 and seven seconds into the very awkward silence the client would just start talking and they would be scared to death to stop. So they would basically sit there and sell themselves. It was magic. Pure, freaking magic. Listen to your clients. Listen to their concerns, fears, ideas, motives, and everything else. Then, just when you think it is time to respond, listen some more.
6) Talk About Things That Interest Them
Remember the acronym F.O.R.D. if you get stumped. F.O.R.D. stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams. Ask questions about them and their family (careful not to offend by asking certain potentially uncomfortable questions), about what they do for a living, about what they do for fun, and about what the future holds. Kids, if they have them, are a great option for discussion. Just remember, if you don’t know whether or not they have kids, don’t ask. Let them volunteer that information first. People love to talk about themselves. Let them. It’s how you get to know people and build relationships, relationships built on trust.
7) Actions Over Time
Sometimes, you just have to prove yourself to your client over time. That’s all you can do. Do what you say you’re going to do. Follow through on your commitments and service promise. There are some people out there that just need to know you are going to be there for them. The only way you are going to do that is to keep your promises.
Trust is a tricky thing. It can take a very long time to build and moments to destroy. It requires the absolute best from you and, strangely, not a whole lot from the person whose trust you are trying to earn. You get to jump through hoops and all they have to do is say yes or no. However, it is the key to a successful sales career. More importantly, as an agent, if your goal is to build a referral-based business, trust is the only foundation for that.