How your experience and credentials can kill a sale

cupsPayoff: the right way to win over a new customer (or contact, or friend)

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Why is it that in an attempt to ‘sell’ most people still seem to think that you should start conversations with your experience and credentials?

You shouldn’t. It’s almost certainly going to come crashing down fast. Like this…

How one person’s experience and credentials lost the sale

Last week, someone was competing for my business on the phone.

They made a point of telling me immediately, with pride, about their years of experience and credentials. (I’m pretty sure I could hear them beating their chest as they did it).

Honestly, as I listened, my emotional roller coaster went from ‘here we go..’ to a level of boredom I’m not sure I’ve achieved before.

Then it moved on to a weird feeling of distrust (actually, it looped the loop there a few times) to confusion (too many letters and achievements that I didn’t understand) to frustration as I was hoping the call would be about my relevant challenges and woes rather than this person’s wins and successes.

Hadn’t this person heard that how we ‘sell’ is a good indication of what we’ll be like to do business with? All talk but no listening? No thanks. This guy was losing just as he started.

And then it got much worse…

  1. He promised to email me following the call. I didn’t receive an email (yes, I checked my junk folder). I called him back.
  2. We arranged a call the following day at a specific time. I prepared and waited. He never called. I called him. No reply. Maybe time management and customer commitments weren’t covered in his years of experience?
  3. He called at the end of the day and told me he got caught up in a series of other meetings. Presumably with people more important to him than me? I’d have forgiven that had I have received a professional and courteous apology before he stood me up. But I didn’t.

Royal fail. Result = no deal + negative word of mouth

And this is the result from an experienced person with solid credentials?

I’m at the risk of making this a rant, so let’s make this useful:

Customers don’t care so much about what you’ve done and what you say.

They care about:

  1. what you’re doing right now (in the spotlight of their precious attention)
  2. what you’re going to do for them
  3. how much you appear to care about them and how you’re making them feel

That’s all.

They care about their present and future. And how you’re going to make it more wonderful for them.

Experience and credentials may support their perceptions of that, but the behaviour and actions right now create the trust and respect that sells.

Your experience and credentials can kill a sale when they distract you from listening to your customer first, and when your behaviour and actions in the moment don’t match up to what you claim.

We’re watching what you do

If you find yourself leading with your experience and credentials as you introduce yourself, remember that the customer probably isn’t really listening or taking in what you’re saying. Instead, they’re noticing what you’re doing. (And can’t we remind ourselves; no one likes a smart arse!)

And what you’re actually doing, is not listening to them or showing any care for them in that moment. That will surely scupper your chances.

My recommendation is to immediately hand the spotlight and stage to your customer, with the exception of mentioning one line about who you help, or who you’ve helped (without going on about how great you are) just to get them talking.

Then let them talk and dance and express themselves about their situation, goals, and desires, and their challenges and limitations.

They will like what you’re DOING.

Because what you’re doing is joining forces with them in that moment. You’re listening and probably showing empathy and they’ll begin to feel the value you can provide them in that moment, which beats telling them. (“Did you know I’m great?”) You’ll stand out above your competition because you appear to care (and you do).

You won’t even need to mention your experience and credentials after that. They’ll likely remain a thing of the past.

Oh, did I say that you can succeed in sales without any experience or credentials? (I’m pretty sure I just did). Just put them behind you for now and learn and practice the right behaviours.

Then you can selectively sprinkle some of your relevant credentials into the conversation where appropriate rather than telling them your CV at the start. Doing so will support and amplify your current behaviours.

And if you want specific help for you or your team (especially if you’re wanting to see more sales activity from your professional services, technical or non-sales teams), give me a shout. I’ll be glad to listen and learn more about your unique situation.

A final thought

One last thought, please care enough, folks, to remain professional. People buy ‘control’ and certainty. Maybe I’m getting old, but I swear I’m seeing a decline in respectful professional behaviour out there. What if you treated everyone as if you were going to bump into them again in a few days?

You may also like: The art of introducing yourself

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