How to Build Sales Credibility with Customers

BY Kathy Crosett
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Have you trained your reps on how to build sales credibility with customers? If not, you’re missing an opportunity. Our research shows that, compared to other professionals, sales reps have some of the lowest credibility rankings in the country. Your reps must take deliberate actions every day to improve this situation. Here are a few key ways to coach your reps on how to build sales credibility.

Sell What Works for the Customer

51% of SMB prospects will respond to a salesperson’s voicemail or email message because they have a future or immediate need for a product or service. To build credibility, your sales reps should address that need in their first contact with the prospect. Advise your reps to spend sufficient time conducting background research on the prospect’s company. 

During discovery, they should be able to speak intelligently about publicly known information. This information includes product launches or upgrades. They can weave that knowledge into the discovery call as they qualify the prospect. If it’s clear that your current solution won’t work for the customer, your rep will build credibility by being honest. They should state up front that they can't help.

No Substitute for Knowledge

In sales, your ‘hunter’ reps can grow credibility by maintaining market awareness. Encourage them to build credibility when using the challenger sales method. The world of sales has changed in recent years. It’s more obvious that “40% of star performers fall into the "challenger" archetype (as opposed to relationship builder, problem solver, hard worker or lone wolf).” This statistic, cited by Nick Hedges, comes from Matthew Dixon’s and Brent Adamson’s "The Challenger Sale" book. 

Change in an organization spells opportunity for a sales professional who uses the challenger method. When a business launches a new product line, hires new employees, or successfully completes an IPO, they are embarking on a new way of operating. Your reps should regularly read or listen to business reports or check out LinkedIn updates to stay on top of these changes. 

It takes time to build credibility in the B2B sales world. Reps can gradually increase their visibility by cultivating their leads through social channels. Commenting on prospects’ posts and writing posts that show their knowledge of the industry in which their target businesses operate will help. Eventually, your reps will be able to ask questions which challenge the prospect’s thinking and help them to consider another way of doing business.

Answering Objections

Brian Tracy, a guest on one of our Manage Smarter podcasts, advises reps to have the right attitude when they face objections to the proposal they’ve presented. Coach your reps to see these objections as an indication of the prospect’s interest, not as a rejection. By taking the time to address each objection, your rep can increase their credibility. They’re showing their knowledge of the topic, the prospect’s business situation and enthusiasm about being able to help improve an operational or strategic challenge.

Value-​based Elevator Pitch

There’s no substitute for being an effective communicator. As Julie Thomas points out, older sales reps should have enough experience to tell a story. But your younger reps may need to polish this skill to come across as credible. All good stories start with a hook. In sales, the hook should start with “the prospect’s industry and the challenges he or she is likely facing.”

Build Sales Credibility with Customers

If your reps aren't getting enough meetings or closing enough deals, the problem could be credibility. Coach them on how to improve their initial discovery and industry knowledge. That strategy will give them a competitive edge.