How Important is Credibility to the Sales Process?

BY Kathy Crosett
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Are you coaching your reps to work on their credibility? You might be asking, “How important is credibility to the sales process?” In the era of the COVID-​19 pandemic and the accompanying recession, buyers have more reason than ever before to avoid interactions with sales reps. Only the most credible reps will be able to schedule calls and set up virtual meetings. Here are a few tips on how to coach your reps to a higher level of credibility. As Jeff Haden explains, likeable people generate a good deal of credibility by saying and doing certain things.

The Power of Listening

Credible sales reps are good listeners. We talk a lot about the importance of listening in sales. When your reps practice close listening, they hear what a prospect is telling them. And they also think about how to connect what they’re hearing to how they can help the prospect. These ‘aha’ moments are exciting. When reps realize they can solve a problem for the prospect, they might be tempted to interrupt them in the middle of their long explanation about what’s wrong with their business and tell them their idea. Don't do that. It’s rude to interrupt any speaker. Coach your reps to be patient and listen for an opening in the conversation when they can begin to steer it in the direction they want. When they show respect, their prospects will pay attention to what they're saying.

Sales Rep Tone

There’s a reason upspeak has become so popular in our culture. Analysts trace the start of this communication style to people who felt ignored or threatened in conservations. They began turning every statement into a question in order to engage their listeners.

Using upspeak may be effective in a sales conversation depending on the communication style preferred by the prospect. Remind your reps to watch their prospect’s body language while they’re talking. Even on a virtual call, reps can get a sense of whether prospects are paying attention to them.

Some prospects may engage quickly when reps use an upspeak style. But don’t forget that prospects expect your reps to be the authority on the solution they’re selling. Help your reps prepare to speak definitively about the problem your solution can address. Being definitive doesn’t mean getting preachy. Your reps will be more likeable if their prospect feels they’re engaging them in a two-​way conversation instead of telling them what they think the prospect should do.

Sales Rep Attitude

If you’re lucky enough to hold the top position in your marketplace, congratulations. Between the excellence of your reps and your solution, buyers have seen the value of what you’re offering. When you’re in that position, it’s easy to become a bit arrogant. Your reps may start acting like they only need to call prospects, make an offer and take an order. 

With that kind of attitude, your organization’s great success will only last so long. It’s easy to become arrogant and assume that all prospects will want to do business with your company. Arrogance is a credibility killer. And it’s also a deal-​breaker. In our Selling to SMBs survey, 35% of respondents said they won’t meet with a sales rep who is arrogant or overconfident. Remind your reps of this important statistic. It takes a long time to build a solid reputation and they must be careful not to tear it down with the wrong attitude.

How Important Is Credibility to the Sales Process?

Coach your reps regularly. They must understand how important credibility is to the sales process. When reps don’t practice active listening, two-​sided conversations and humility, the prospect will quickly discount their sales credibility and look for another vendor to provide the solution they need.