“Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do.” – Benjamin Spock.

I feel this quote is a perfect way to lead in to my first blog post.  I have been kicking around the idea for a few weeks now, but have been making excuse after excuse of not getting started.

The excuse train left and I wasn’t on board today!  I need to go with what I know and trust that I can do this.  I am a salesman.  In reality we all are, we just may not know it.  Often we take for granted what we know and assume everyone else knows the same information, but when it all boils down that isn’t necessarily the case.

For instance, trust can have different meanings to different people.  I am the type of person that gives my trust to others until they prove I shouldn’t.  Others are a little more reserved and they wait to make sure people are trustworthy.  Regardless of where you fall in this equation, I feel it is safe to say that trust can be gained or lost in a moments notice.

Being in a profession where speaking with people is my lifeline, I must constantly make sure I am able to come across as a trustworthy person.  This has to be done in less than 20 seconds, and most of the time much more quickly than that.  This is one of those instances where I take for granted the fact that I am used to starting conversations or quickly building rapport.  I have had numerous people ask me how I do it or if I have any suggestions.  I decided this could be the perfect avenue to help someone.

For demonstration purposes, our example is going to be a telephone conversation.  Once the phone rings, before the person on the receiving end even looks at the caller id or answers, thoughts of “Who is this?”, “where are they calling from?”, or “why are they calling?” arise.  Sometimes all of the above.  One of the biggest questions though is “What’s in it for me?”

Those questions, in addition to countless others, need to be addressed within 20 seconds.  The trick, however is to answer the questions without talking too much and boring the other person causing them to hang up, but giving them enough information to cause curiosity to learn more.

WHO? – Who are you? Just let them know your name and name of company if applicable.  Do you have mutual friends or did someone refer you?  Had you recently met or did you meet in the past and you are following up?  This would be the time to be a “name dropper” but limit it to just one or two people.

WHERE? – Part of this may have been addressed in the who part, but if not, now is the perfect time to let the other person know where you are calling from.

Saving the best for last, “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?” or WIIFM – Everybody today is extremely busy.  Even if someone isn’t truly busy compared to others, they still think they are.  Because of this, when picking up the phone, the person on the other end is going to be wondering how this conversation is going to benefit their life.  After you have established who you are and where you are calling from (your reason), you better have a something good lined up because this is your one shot.  Think features and benefits.  If you have competition, what features do you offer that will benefit this person that others don’t?  If you don’t have competition (in all actuality, you do, just maybe not specific) what features and benefits do you offer which warrant continuing this conversation?

Done with the right voice inflection and speed and catching the person at the right time on the right day, you may gain enough trust to continue building the relationship and going further with the conversation.

Below is a sample phone conversation using some of the tips above.  I have also added some additional questions, but using them is obviously completely up to you.  I plan on writing more next week so please check back on Friday and also please leave comments/questions/suggestions as I would greatly appreciate them!

Joe Customer – Hello?

You – Hi, is this Joe?

Joe – Yes, this is he.

You – Hi Joe, my name is Adam Iceskate from XYZ Company. I didn’t interrupt anything too hectic did I?  – I let him know my name and my company name and wanted to make sure I wasn’t interrupting anything.

Joe – No, nothing too hectic.

You – OK great!  The reason I’m calling is because we share a mutual connection on LinkedIn through Suzy Smith.  Are you guys really close or just acquaintances through networking? -Letting him know you share a mutual contact softens the call and shows you aren’t just some random telemarketer (even though you may be!)

Joe – Yes we have known each other for years.

You – Well I was talking with her the other day and she mentioned that your company is looking for some help with your website.  Is that the case?

Joe – Yeah, we have been talking about it for a while and we are now at the point we think it’s time to update things.

You – Perfect!  I don’t know how familiar you are with XYZ Company, but we specialize in website improvement! (Add 1 feature/1 benefit)  I know you are busy, but do you have 10 minutes next week I can come by and put a face with a name and show you how we could possibly help with your updates? -You restate your company name because chances are he wasn’t listening the first time or he forgot it. Here most people will go for the sale, but if you are respectful of the other person’s time, you are more likely to be invited to meet with them.

And that’s it!  Assuming the conversation with Suzy did take place and Suzy and Joe didn’t have some terrible falling out, Joe will trust you a little more than someone else who may just call and say:

“Hi, I’m Adam Iceskate from XYZ company.  We specialize in website improvement, can I come show how we can update yours?”

Put yourself in Joe’s shoes.  Which would you prefer?