(This article originally appeared on Deb Calvert’s blog)
It takes more than charisma, more than solid products, more than competitive prices, and more than glad-handing to succeed long-term in sales.
It takes credibility.
Credibility. That’s a word laden with expectations. Buyers expect their sellers to be credible. They want to work with someone who is believable and worthy of being believed.
So how do we determine whether or not someone is credible? It starts with assessing whether or not they are telling us the truth. In order to be credible, you have to guard your words so that what you say is not inaccurate or misleading. In sales, buyers are watching closely for this since there are so many stereotypes of sellers who will say just about anything in order to make a sale.
We don’t stop there, though, in deeming someone credible or not credible. We also look for whether or not they will keep their promises. We “test” people with small promises – that’s why if you say you will call back on Monday at 10:00 a.m., you want to be sure that’s exactly what you do. These little promises build credibility and, ultimately, trustworthiness.
A simple rule to remember in selling (better yet, in life) is to DWYSYWD. That’s Do What You Say You Will Do. If you can’t do it or aren’t writing it down so you won’t forget to do it, then don’t even say you will do it. As soon as you say you will do something, treat that like an ironclad commitment. After all, that’s how the other person is viewing it.
DWYSYWD. Maybe you’ve heard a similar rule that says Under-Promise and Over-Deliver. That’s a fail safe approach if you are not certain you can do something. It’s a good approach if you find that you often overcommit and end up disappointing others. It’s a good way to repair your credibility if it has been damaged in the past when you didn’t come through on what you said you would do.
When you under-promise and over-deliver, you will pleasantly surprise your customers. This is a much better alternative to over-promising and under-delivering, something that salespeople seldom recover from if they do with a customer.
DWYSYWD is easy if you develop good follow-through habits. Never make an appointment without immediately putting it into your calendar. Always look at your calendar multiple times throughout the day. Never make a commitment without jotting it down and then referring back to your notes at the end of each day, checking off every item you’ve completed or taking steps to assure next day completion.
Following through also means that you check back after a sale to make sure that delivery and specs were exactly what they customer expected. Similarly, follow through includes being available to customers when they have questions or concerns. One best practice is to adopt a 24-hour reply rule. This practice is a commitment you make you yourself – to return every e-mail, voice mail or call no more than 24 hours after you’ve been contacted.
Credibility also includes being believable which implies a certain level of competence, too. In order to be believable, you have to know what you’re talking about. This doesn’t simply mean that you know your own business and industry and products. It also means that you know about your buyer’s industry, too, and that you demonstrate an interest in learning about their business. If you sell B2B, credibility increases with business acumen. If you don’t know the basics of how businesses make money, you will not be viewed as credible.
With good follow through, a track record of honoring your promises, availability and competence, you will be seen as a credible professional. The impact of being credible is that you will gain new customers, retain established customers, and earn referrals, too. We all want to do business with people we trust.