Sales is, in large part, the art of developing trust in a tight window. It’s a consultative practice — one where buyers need to know that they, their businesses, and their money are in good hands. And if you lack credibility, you’re going to have a hard time convincing any prospect that your company can provide that kind of security.
Credibility is a precious resource in sales — and the success of your sales efforts can hinge upon how well you establish and develop yours throughout your conversations. But reps often struggle with demonstrating that kind of legitimacy with prospects, so to help ensure that you remain as credible as possible to potential buyers, we’ve tapped some sales experts for their takes on how to increase credibility with prospects.
Let’s take a look at what they had to say.
How to Increase Your Credibility With Prospects
- Share success stories.
- Provide value add metrics.
- Create a LinkedIn profile with an aligned message.
- Engage with prospects on a human-to-human level.
- Personalize your outreach.
- Focus on building rapport.
- Understand everyone involved in the sales process.
- Tell prospects who is and isn’t a fit for your services.
- Be willing to walk away from a deal.
- Share control with your prospects.
- Have a clear process in place.
1. Share success stories.
Prospects need to be able to envision themselves being successful with your product or service. One of the best ways to help them visualize success is to share success stories.
Sean Higgins, the CEO at BetterYou, says, “Most prospects you work with will have similar pain points. By showing how you helped a peer solve a similar problem and using numbers and KPIs, you add so much more credibility to the message you’re bringing the prospect.”
The goal is to get them thinking about what their problem would look like if they had been this customer that started working with you. In other words, their problem would be solved.
Deanna Povec, a senior channel account manager at HubSpot, says, “Speak from experience and tell a good story of a past discussion or customer you’ve worked with which the prospect can relate to.”
2. Provide value add metrics.
Similar to sharing success stories, it’s important to get down to provide value for your customers.
Higgins adds, “The best reps in an industry add value far beyond simply sending over the latest headline. They do their research. Is there a new study that was posted in Nature about communication and job satisfaction? Sending something like that to your HR prospect when applicable saves them time from having to research and can augment their action plan with their team.”
As an example, Higgins says at his company they create monthly reports on the amount of time people spend toward health that shows if factors like sleep, social connection, or mental health issues are trending up or down nationally.
This information is just a simple way for a sales rep to provide value during the sales process. You can send prospects interesting information on their industry to help educate, inform, and get a conversation started.
“We get rave reviews from prospects and customers alike on these reports,” Higgins says.
3. Create a LinkedIn profile with an aligned message.
As a sales rep, it’s important to understand that prospects might research you before or during the sales process.
When they do, your messaging (and overall brand) should be consistent.
David J.P Fisher, an international sales speaker and author, says, “Take advantage of that by ensuring your LinkedIn profile (the most prominent piece of our online brand) is filled with language that matches what you’re sharing in your conversations. When they hear the same thing online and offline, it reinforces the key points you want to communicate.”
4. Engage with prospects on a human-to-human level.
Inbound sales is all about being helpful and human. Your primary goal as a sales rep should be to connect with your prospects. Without that connection, they won’t trust you enough to buy from you.
Fisher adds, “The foundation of credibility is trust. And trust is based on an empathetic human connection. So treat your prospects as people and not just another name on the list. When you engage on the human level to understand your prospects’ needs and opportunities, they’re more likely to listen to what you suggest.”
Essentially, this is all about building rapport.
Povec says, “Be human and build rapport to help get the prospect to open up more.”
5. Personalize your outreach.
In the same vein as building rapport, one great way to connect with your prospects is to personalize your outreach.
Sophie Salzman, a principal channel account manager at HubSpot, says “You need to be mindful of the fact that people are inundated with information and emails, acknowledge it, and then personalize your outreach to get a response.”
To do this, Salzman suggests finding something you have in common with someone on LinkedIn, providing a tip that might be relevant to the company, or including an article that might be relevant to their industry (like Higgins suggested).
“If you aren’t personalizing your outreach, then you will definitely be missing a lot of great fit companies,” Salzman adds.
6. Focus on building rapport.
While we discussed this briefly, we haven’t honed in on it. Building rapport is a major deal when it comes to making a sale.
“Once you have someone’s attention, it’s about building rapport and a connection. Learn more about THEM as people, share a story that you think might resonate with them, and care about them,” Salzman comments.
When this is done in conjunction with providing value in the sales process, you’ll become a trusted advisor.
Salzman adds, “Building relationships is the key to increasing credibility and to winning a deal. Caring is everything.”
7. Understand everyone involved in the sales process.
Whenever you’re making a sale, you know that you’re not just talking to one decision-maker. There are several people involved in the process of purchasing a product or service, especially on the B2B side.
“It’s important to understand everyone’s role and what each of them care about. This way, you can tailor your solution to each person and build credibility from there. The most successful sales reps have buy-in from multiple different individuals from a company so make sure to not only care about the decision-maker but care about everyone who is involved in the sales process. It goes a long way,” Salzman remarks.
8. Tell prospects who is and isn’t a fit for your services.
Salespeople sometimes have a bad reputation of being “untrustworthy” because there are ulterior motives in the conversation.
That’s why you need to be open about who is or isn’t a good fit for your services.
David Weinhaus, a partner sales enablement manager at HubSpot, says, “Prospects don’t want to work with salespeople who are willing to sell everything to everybody. They want salespeople who can cut to the chase and explain what prospects make a good fit for their service. And it should have some bite to it — meaning a prospect should be able to say yes that doesn’t apply to everyone, but it applies to me, or that doesn’t apply to me.”
9. Be willing to walk away from a deal.
When you need a deal, it makes sense that you’re going to schmooze a little more than normal. However, it’s important to avoid this.
Weinhaus says, “The worst thing for credibility is when you need a deal and are unlikely to walk away, especially if the deal isn’t a great fit for you or the prospect. Prospects can smell it when you aren’t acting with their best interests at heart, and they should because you aren’t. A corollary to this is keep your pipeline full. It’s easy to say be willing to walk away from a deal. It can be incredibly hard to do, especially if your pipeline is bare.”
If your pipeline is full, you won’t have to worry about really needing every deal.
10. Share control with your prospects.
As a salesperson, your job is to work with your prospects to find the best solution. It might help if you act like a consultant, so you can provide them with information but they’re also contributing to the process.
“Whoever told you that the salesperson should control the sales process is wrong. Salespeople should lead the sales process, but not control it. It’s your prospect’s process too,” Weinhaus says.
An example of this in practice is that when you share your own agenda, ask your prospect what they want to cover.
And then, actually listen. You don’t want to go full charge ahead if your prospect isn’t ready to move forward.
11. Have a clear process in place.
Lastly, a great way to build credibility with your prospect is to clearly communicate what the sales process is going to look like.
“Having a clear agenda, and solidified next steps makes a prospect feel safe and like you’ve done this before. Prospects who you’re educating on your product want to be guided which builds trust and credibility,” Povec says.
It’s incredibly important to build credibility with your prospects. To do this, focus on building rapport and connection during every conversation.