Building Credibility Through Defining Terms

by Michael Hargrove

head shot active 4bWhat would it mean to you if you were to pick up a skill that enabled you to quickly build rapport and credibility with your customers and help you earn more of their trust? Would it be worth a little bit of effort and time to master it? And how excited would you be if you could start using this skill with your very next customer?

Then pay close attention to this selling principle: “Defining Terms”.

The average salesperson, especially those of us with experience, tend to assume we know what our customers mean when they use terms like, “good value, high performance, very safe, fully loaded, too high, not enough, sexy, cheap, reliable”, etc. Because we’ve heard these terms before, and because we’ve had some success dealing with these terms in the past, most of us simply launch into time proven word tracks or strategies confident that we’ll get the same good results.

And when we don’t, we’re left scratching our heads in confusion. We end up saying to ourselves (or our managers), “But I showed them all of the safety features!”, if our customers mentioned “safety” or “This thing couldn’t have another option added to it!”, if our customers mentioned “fully loaded”.

What we neglected to do was find out how our customers defined the term “safety”. We never took the time to find out what they meant by “fully loaded”. And it’s something very easy to do. Until we take the time to define our customer’s terms, each time we use the words “safety” or “fully loaded” we just sound like a salesperson trying to make a sale.

I’d like you to do this today. I’d like you to add these few questions to your toolbox right now and use them when you’re performing your investigation or trying to determine your customer’s needs. Take the time to personalize them, of course. Here they are:

“_________ (safety, fully loaded, good value, sexy, etc) means something different to each of my clients. What does it mean to you?”

“_________ is obviously very important to you. How come?”

“Because each of my clients have different expectations, let me ask you this: How will you know when it has enough _________?”

“What else should I know about _________?”

“I hear you say ________. Could you please expound upon that for me?”

“And just to clarify my thinking, why is _________ so important to you?”

“What else could you share with me to help me better understand the importance of _________ to you?”

Let me ask you something. Do these questions sound like we’re trying to close them? No, we sound like we’re trying to understand them. Do we sound like every other salesperson they’ve had to deal with in the past? No, typical sales people only ask typical sales questions. And who’s interest does it sound like we have at heart? Theirs, right?

Once our customer has defined their terms to us, we need to paraphrase back to them what we heard. This confirms to our customer that we understand what THEY mean by THEIR terms. Now, whenever we use those same words, those words will have more meaning and have more weight, because they know we’re operating in the same world as they are with the same definitions.

When we point out a safety feature or show a convenience option, we’ll be building value and justifying cost based on what they have already told us. Now, when we use the terms “safety” and “fully loaded”, we sound like someone looking out for their interests, welfare, and satisfaction, not just a salesperson trying to make another sale. Everything we say from then on will be more credible and seem like it’s tailored to their specific wants and needs.

This one skill set is quick, effective, and easy to add to our arsenals. It allows us to better understand our customers, build rapport more quickly and easily, and separates us from the rest of the field. All of which are important in today’s market, aren’t they? Add it to your toolbox today.

© Copyright 2016 by Michael D. Hargrove and Bottom Line Underwriters, Inc. All rights reserved. Michael D. Hargrove is the founder and president of Bottom Line Underwriters Inc.

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