When I first started selling over the telephone, I couldn’t figure out why it was more difficult to build trust and rapport with my customers over the phone than in person. After all, they could hear the sincerity of my voice, and I made my offering about them. (Ok, I didn’t start that young!) To build trust with customers virtually, we need to leverage online tools to augment the subtle physical and psychological cues our mind uses to build trust.
Why Building Trust in Face-to-Face Sales is Easier
When we meet face to face with a prospect and start to build trust, we release a hormone called oxytocin. When you sit across the table from someone, you unconsciously absorb this hormone through your sense of smell. This phenomenon is true in the whole animal kingdom. Oxytocin is a feel-good hormone that can lead to companionship, grooming, and even mating. It’s released when we fall in love, win an award, or even eat special foods.
So, a good interpersonal experience will bring the release of oxytocin. This hormone helps release feelings of pleasure, empathy, and trust. In fact, researchers show that when customers were asked to take oxytocin through their nose, they were more apt to spend money. The way I figure it, if I can get a customer to put something in their nasal cavity, they already trust me!
How to Build Trust in Virtual Sales
How do you overcome this loss of close personal interaction and all the subtle physical and psychological emotions that come with it when selling online? We can’t smell each other across the digital divide, so we must find new ways to build trust.
Establish Virtual Presence
You have probably heard the statistic that people make a first impression within a few seconds. While this is true in person, it is now relevant online. When you look good, sound good, and maneuver your technology like a pro, you increase customer confidence and trust and close more deals faster.
Do Your Homework
Doing homework doesn’t sound like fun, but you need to do it before you have the fun of presenting virtually to your customers. Doing your homework shows your customers that you care, separates you from your competitors, and helps you build rapport and credibility faster. When you’ve done your homework, you won’t pester customers with questions that you should already know the answers to. Think about yourself as a consumer. When someone takes the time to look you up online to discover your mutual interests and experiences, you’re more eager to work together.
It used to be that the only way we could discover a prospect’s needs and objectives was to meet over a cup of coffee or perhaps by telephone. If we were lucky, we might be able to invite a mutual colleague to add to the conversation. Today, you must do your homework and learn everything you can about all decision-makers on the call.
Be Agile and Structured
One of the most significant differences between selling virtually vs. selling face-to-face is that of time. When you’re face-to-face with a customer, the chances are that if you create interest, your prospect might extend the meeting. They may bring in other stakeholders, offer to show you their facilities, or introduce you to family members. A serendipitous meeting at a conference can result in dinner and drinks with the founder or CEO.
You don’t have this luxury on a zoom call. Why? Because most people structure their virtual time in precise increments. You’ve got a thirty-minute or a sixty-minute time slot. That’s it. With this in mind, you must remain agile and strategize a structure for your sales calls. What will you cover in 60 minutes? How about thirty? What if you’re allotted sixty minutes, and surprise! Your customer announces she only has eighteen minutes. This scenario happens all the time. You must prepare to shrink or expand your calls on a dime.
All this comes down to putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. Instead of thinking about how you want to sell, think about your customer and what will encourage them to buy. Successful sellers know that they must show they’re both competent and empathetic in whatever time slot they’re given.
On virtual calls, your customers may not be able to smell you (which could be a good thing! LOL), but they can certainly connect with you so long as you build trust. Remember this; buyers decide what they think of you before deciding what they think of your product!