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Sales Strategies
Knowledge is Power and in Sales it Leads to Trust, Value and Deals.
By Olin Thompson, Process ERP Partners

How do you get a deal? Yes, many factors come into play, but two key factors are trust and value.

How do you get a deal? Yes, many factors come into play, but two key factors are trust and value. Does the prospect or customer trust you? Think about why a customer would trust you and how you can improve upon that trust. Do you bring value to your customer? To bring value, the customer must trust you to provide him with knowledge he did not have before. Simply put, to get a deal, you need to show value; to show value, the customer must trust what you say. No trust, no value, no deal.

Determining how trust is built leads us to a map of knowledge--both yours and the customer's. This value map has three parts: knowledge that the customer has that you do not (for example, internal information); your knowledge of the value that your product has and that the customer needs (why your solution can make money for the customer); and those things you both know (shared knowledge).

How do the three types of knowledge impact the deal? A prospect's evaluation of your trustworthiness is based upon shared knowledge. If you make a statement that the prospect knows is true, trust is increased. If you make a statement that the prospect sees as false, trust is eroded.

An excellent way to increase trust and prove value is to follow a statement from the prospect with information that elaborates and shows an understanding of the subject. To ensure that trust is built like this, ask the prospect a question whose answer you already know. Prepare a value-added response to this answer in advance so that the customer gains trust in your knowledge and understanding.

To embark on a successful sales campaign, you need certain information from the customer. You discover this information by asking questions ranging from those that show you care to those that uncover business objectives and needs--the areas where your solution can add value. While asking the right questions is imperative to a successful sales campaign, you can only ask them, and get the answers you need, once the prospect trusts you.

Use your knowledge to help gain trust and bring value. Tell the customer useful or interesting facts that he can then build into his knowledge field, and you will build value. This knowledge can be about your solution or other things of interest to the prospect, such as knowledge about his industry.

Building trust based upon your shared knowledge and then building value from what each of you knows is a proven process. As the sales person, you need to make certain you are in a position to both build trust and bring value. Mapping different degrees of knowledge overlap tells us what will work and what will not.

If the field of shared knowledge is too great, gaining trust will be easy but bringing value to the relationship, based on the knowledge you have of your product and the knowledge he has of his needs, will be difficult. If very little knowledge is shared, it will be difficult to prove your trustworthiness and therefore you will never be able to prove the value of your product. If you have a balance of shared knowledge and solid, useful knowledge of your own, you can build trust and bring value to the relationship.

What can you do to increase your ability to build trust and bring value? The answer is to add to your knowledge. A key area is industry knowledge. Do you know the key players in the prospect's market? Do you know which magazines; business shows and organizations are involved with the industry? Do you know product and market share information? Use the web to learn about the industry. If you sell in a limited number of industries, read the magazines and go to the events. If you sell in a broad range of industries, build up your bookmarks so you can research what is going on in an industry before you make the first call.

Another key area of knowledge is the prospect's business. Research the prospect's business using the web and other sources of knowledge. The prospect knows its own business and will respect people who share that knowledge. Always remember, knowledge is power and in sales it leads trust, value and deals.

Olin Thompson is a leading sales & marketing consultat  to application software providers. With 25+  years experience, Olin has been called "The Father of Process ERP". He works with solutions providers, analysts, and the press. To learn more visit Contact Olin directly at 401.421.6968 or e-mail:

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