Establishing Authority with Your Prospects 101

Establishing Authority

Are you having a bit of trouble establishing authority with your sales prospects? Being knowledgeable about your product or service is the first step in establishing your authority with a prospect. But you also need to remember that, at least early on in the sales process, your prospects care more about what you can do for them than who you are. That’s why an easy way to gain authority by educating your prospects, says Philip Piletic, writing for CustomerThink. You can accomplish this task in a few ways:

  1. Standard Education During Presentations
  2. Honesty

Establishing Authority with Your Prospects

Standard Education During Presentations

You can’t simply brag about your level of expertise during a sales presentation and hope it’s all you need when establishing authority. On the contrary, Piletic points out that opening bragging about yourself can make it seem as if you’re trying too hard to impress the prospects. This can at best annoy them or at worst make them suspicious about whether you’re an authority figure.

Instead, fill your presentations with insider knowledge. “Simple tutorials and online manuals can be jazzed up with information that your clients wouldn’t be able to receive anywhere else,” says Piletic. “Everything you do will need to have additional value added to it in order to continue your establishment as someone who should be trusted in your specific field.” Providing insider knowledge helps when establishing authority because you’re proving that you know enough about your product or service to be a teacher.

No amount of research they’ve done online about you or your product can compare to what you have to teach them. If the prospect can’t learn the information you have on their own, they’ll need to turn to you for answers. And that’s where you earn your authoritative status.

Honesty

You can’t be the authority on your product or service if your prospects don’t trust you. Trust is the foundation of every successful relationship, business or otherwise. And your prospects will be able to tell if you’re being dishonest with them.

Say you’re in the middle of an awesome presentation on your product. You’re giving the prospect insider knowledge, you’re highlighting your product’s best features, and things are going swimmingly. You’re establishing your authority and nothing can stop you! Then the prospect asks a question that you don’t know the answer to. Instead of admitting that you don’t know the answer, you flounder and either give an unconvincing answer or talk your way out of the question. Any authority you gained earlier in the presentation is now in jeopardy, if it isn’t already lost.

When you are in this situation, it's far better to admit you don’t know the answer and that'll you do more research and get back to them. Reacting this way will make you seem more human and show that you value honesty over always having to be right. In addition, you now have another opportunity to touch base with the prospect.

You can also showcase your commitment to honesty online. When your company receives a negative review on social media, address it in the comment section. Apologize for the client’s experience and offer to make it right. When salespeople respond to negative reviews, it helps when establishing authority because it shows that you don’t run from your problems.

Rachel Cagle

Rachel Cagle

Rachel is a Research Analyst, specializing in audience intelligence, at SalesFuel. She also helps to maintain the major accounts and co-​op intelligence databases. As the holder of a Bachelors degree in English from The Ohio State University, Rachel helps the rest of the SalesFuel team with their writing needs.