Think about the last time you bought something from somebody, can you say what was the 'thing' that made you buy from that person? Whether you've answered with 'I got good recommendations about this guy", or "she presented an excellent working history", the underlying reason that closed the sale was trust.
"Oh come on," you may say to me "that's obvious!" Indeed it is, yet most of the salespersons I've met throughout the many years I've been training not necessarily conduct the conversation in the shortest - most effective way to create such a trust.
First, I would like to make it clear that when I speak about 'sale' or 'selling', I mean it in the widest way possible – regarding many of human interactions, although not bearing the formal title of a sale, as such. Meaning that I refer to each and every one of us as salespeople, we all sell things throughout a normal day, usually without being aware that we are engaged in selling. Think about it, every time you're trying to convey an idea to someone or recruit another to cooperate with you on any endeavor, you're engaged in selling. We give and take things – tangible and intangible – from our environment and every such give & take requires that we sell or buy something from the other side. In that sense selling is one option among our many possibilities of conflict resolution strategies.
So, how do you create a feeling of trust and the shortest - most effective way? Well, that's not an obvious question as the former one, or is it...? Go back again to the last successful selling conversation you've participated in as a 'buyer' and try to pinpoint what was that that filled your trust cup to the degree that you decided to take a sip - give the other side, the 'seller', a chance to walk his talk?
Not like the trust issue that no selling process can be closed without, regarding trust creation, many things can contribute to the creation of trust. Yet a crucial ingredient, that is likely to be presented in any situation trust is involved in, is the feeling of being understood.
The need to be understood strengthen during a confrontational situation, in our case a sale, so acknowledging it and acting accordingly will enhance any of your conflict resolution strategies.
Hence, one of the most important selling abilities is the ability to make the potential client feel he's understood. This is the essence of empathy - being able to duplicate the other side's point of view and then give that person the feeling you've fully done so. Notice that empathy consists of two sequential steps – duplicating the other side's message and then make the other side know his message was duplicated.
"Nice words," you might say "but what does it actually mean in regarding the way the selling conversation should be conducted – how do I embed it into action so it'll positively affect my conflict resolution strategies?"
Again, like formation of trust, there are many ways to generate an empathetic feeling with the buyer. All of these ways will be characterized by focusing on the other side's point of view rather than on your own. For example, many people start a selling conversation with a pre made speech - elaborating on what exactly it is that they are selling, why it is good or any other aspect that has to do with what it is they would like to sell. The empathetic approach replaces long, elaborative, not to say tiring, speeches - with a simple question the salesperson ask the 'client' "What it is that you're looking for in regarding...?" This question instantly put the 'client' in the center as she speaks about her needs and, not only does the 'client' starts feeling he's being heard, but he's also providing the salesperson valuable 'free' information about what he needs in order to make the 'purchase'.
I would like to remind you again that 'selling' can be when you ask your kid to do his house chores and you receive a reluctant face… what if you'll treat him as a 'client' and demonstrate empathy using a question like "what can we mutually do in order to make it a more pleasant task?" Your 'client' will undoubtedly feel he's being heard (is that not how you'd like your kid to feel at any time?) and he'll provide information that will help you make the sale – encourage your kid to do his house chore, in minimum invested energy from your side while retaining a great atmosphere at home and allowing your kid to acquire the quality of diligence. Just a side note regarding the above example, have you ever considered the goal oriented conversations you have with your loved ones as part of your conflict resolution strategies kit?
The same principle will work as effectively with a 'real' client – the one that actually pays money when buying whatever it is you're selling to him.
The equation is simple: want to sell easily and effectively – create trust by letting the other side feel he's being understood. Such a feeling is created by actively expressing empathy.
Did you find this article interesting and relevant? Check up our Conflict Resolution & Negotiation Skills For Salespeople eCourse. More free material can be found in our Resource Center. Please check our Shop for both e-books and e-courses on subjects like Conflict Resolution Strategies, Negotiation Tactics and much more.