4 Fast Steps to Establishing Credibility
February 27, 2019
Editor’s Note: This guest post was contributed by Julie Thomas, CEO of ValueSelling Associates.
One of the quickest ways to leave a bad initial impression is to forget who you are talking to, and why. We in sales spend a lot of time making sure decision-makers understand our goods and services, but then we fail to quickly connect those solutions to someone else’s needs.
This information imbalance becomes apparent during introductions. Whether initiated by a referral or a cold call, you have limited time to quickly establish yourself as a trusted resource. To keep the conversation going, you need to spend the bulk of time discovering business issues, not reciting your resume.
That’s why good sales training includes ample time helping sales and marketing professionals create a compelling—and concise—credibility statement. When done well, you can quickly gain the attention of a busy executive who likes what they hear or read.
What should go into such a credibility statement?
First, quickly establish who you are and what you do. This is one or two sentences to introduce you, your company and your area[s] of expertise.
Mention similar companies you’ve helped. An executive is listening to see if you have the right solution for his or her problem (at least as it is perceived at that time). By quickly mentioning successes at relatable companies or sectors, you should pique their interest.
Let someone know what makes your solution the best fit. Chances are you aren’t the first sales professional to come calling, so you also need to show how you’re different from competitors. Or, if you are truly one-of-a-kind, here’s your chance to explain why your offering provides a unique advantage.
Finally, back up success stories with metrics. You are talking to people who want more than anecdotal proof of achievement, so be prepared to show the financial or business impact of a success story. No need for a data deep dive; just provide some points as proof your solution works. Ending with an impressive outcome is an excellent way to boost your credibility.
Note that three of these four items focus on the prospect, not your company per se. Too often, credibility statements sound canned and company-centered…because they are. It takes a little more work upfront to show you not only have the professional chops, but a deeper understanding of where someone is coming from. That is a powerful motivator.
To be clear: This is not name-dropping to win over someone. It’s fine to cite brands and mutual connections you’ve worked with, but don’t stray from your primary goal: engaging prospects in a conversation that makes them want to learn more about how you can help them.
Just like everything else in sales, the amount of time now given to establish credibility has shrunk. ValueSelling Associates recommends 30 seconds to two minutes at most. The higher the executive title, the less time you should take. So, make every word count and make sure your credibility statement is as much about helping others as it is about highlighting you.
Keep pace with the latest thinking in sales by subscribing today to the LinkedIn Sales Blog.