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Question: What do you think is the No. 1 reason your best customers buy from you? Your prices? If you've listened to any good sales and marketing expert, you know selling on price alone is an unsustainable business model. Value is more important than price. Your personality? You...


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Question: What do you think is the No. 1 reason your best customers buy from you?

Your prices?
If you've listened to any good sales and marketing expert, you know selling on price alone is an unsustainable business model. Value is more important than price.

Your personality?
You may be charismatic and funny. But if being funny guaranteed sales success, you'd see a lot more jobbers driving around with red noses and clown suits. Being likeable can only carry you so far. It may be why prospects will listen to you. But it's not the core reason they buy from you.

Your product knowledge?
You're getting close. That's actually part of it. Research has shown that the top salespeople have excellent product knowledge. But some of the worst salespeople also have excellent product knowledge. You can't be a successful salesperson without product knowledge, but product knowledge alone is no guarantee of success.

The brand name on your truck?
You're getting hotter. But customers switch brand loyalty every day. The reason most of your best customers buy from you is more basic than brand.

Answer:
Your best customers buy from you because they trust you.

People will sometimes buy from someone they don't like. They never buy from someone they don't trust. Period.

Customers might forgive you if you're a little rusty on product knowledge. They'll pay you more for personal service and financing. You can even convince them to switch brand loyalty. But they won't become your best customers unless you earn their trust.

Earning trust
The problem is trust is usually built over time. It's based on a series of positive experiences. You trust someone because they've proved themselves trustworthy. But you can't build trust unless a prospect trusts you enough to make that first purchase and become a customer.

So, how can you build instant trust? Let me start with an example of someone who quickly created distrust.

Several months ago, I needed a new muffler. There are more than a dozen muffler shops within a mile or two of my house. So, I drove to the shop that installed my last muffler a few years back. I walked in and stood waiting for a minute while the service writer dawdled with paperwork without looking up. Then he finally acknowledged me.

    "Yeah?" the service writer gruffly greeted me.
    "I need a muffler," I said. "How soon can you get me in?"
    "Depends," he said. After about a minute of looking over my van he proclaimed, "You need a whole new exhaust system."
    "I'm sure," I said, "but not today. How much for just a muffler and tail?"
    "Won't do that," he said. "Don't want to be responsible if something happens to you."
    "Take me off the lift," I said. "Don't do anything. Don't want you to feel responsible."

Despite his protests, I walked. Why didn't I didn't trust this guy? And what can you learn from my experience to help you build trust with new customers?
First, be trustworthy. We live in a small world. Your reputation will precede you. I went to this shop because they treated me right last time. But I later learned the shop had changed ownership. If I'd known that before, I might have gone to the other shop in town that I've used before. I only trusted the shop based on past experience.

Making an impression
Next, remember first impressions are lasting impressions. Practice these four simple habits and you'll build trust faster:

1. Be yourself.
Overly friendly salespeople with forced smiles throw up red flags with prospects. Don't try to be unnaturally upbeat. The flip side of this is my muffler guy. He didn't even attempt to be friendly. He almost seemed to go out of his way to be rude. Try to be nice. Just don't try too hard. Be sincere. Be natural. Relax and be yourself.

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