Protect Your Credibility
***GUEST BLOGGER TIM OHAI***
Tale of the Sale:
One of the first pieces of advice I ever received from my first B2B sales manager was “always be a professional.” What he really meant was “protect your credibility.”
Early in my own business, I had to tackle the loss of my logo. What I mean is that I had no idea how important my old corporate employer’s logo was – it literally opened doors. But when I went out my own, no one knew Growth & Associates, and open doors were suddenly hard to find. I had to rely on other aspects of my credibility – because credibility is not just reputation. Things like how I communicated, how I showed up, and how I responded to potential customers were just as important as my company reputation. In fact, I would now say that they are more important.
In one customer interaction, I had been brought in to present to a senior executive at a major company. He literally started the meeting off with “who are you?” Fortunately, his team jumped in and started to explain who I was and why they thought I could help them address their particular challenge.
I jumped on that, focusing on the problem to be solved, and made that the topic of the conversation. The executive immediately opened up and started to share his desired outcomes and the obstacles that were getting in the way. I stayed focused on the problem, sharing what I knew and continually asking questions until the clarity that both the customer and I needed was established. Only then did we start talking about a solution.
The conversation went quite well until the very end, at which point the executive pulled off his glasses and declared to the room, “If you (pointing to me) screw this up, I will make sure that you never work with this company again.”
While my face stayed calm, my internal reaction was the exact opposite. I felt that my own integrity was being insulted. But instead of letting my ego take over and ruin the sale, I very firmly replied, “I would never make a promise that I couldn’t keep.” I held his gaze without blinking – secretly unsure of what would happen next. He stared at me a moment longer, then suddenly said, “Good. We’ll get back to you” and ended the meeting.
Afterwards, his team and I were shocked at how the meeting concluded. I found out later that the short, tense exchange was his final test. He wanted to see how I would respond. In other words, he wanted to test my credibility. Fortunately, I passed the test. I got the sale – and much more business with that client over time.
Lessons Learned from This Tale of the Sale:
1. Obviously, credibility still matters. It is THE cornerstone of everything you do as a professional seller.
2. Credibility comes from a host of things, but being absolutely focused on solving the customer’s problem is a powerful way to boost your credibility – even when your business logo is not well-known.
3. Never underestimate the power of your credibility with others. They will protect – and even boost – your credibility by adding their own. This is an underlying reason why using our customers logos as success stories is so influential.
(Bonus) Never sacrifice your credibility to get a “win.” It’s a short-term play at best. Once you lose your credibility, you will eventually lose everything else.
Tim Ohai is founder and president of Growth & Associates, a community of experts that specializes in helping companies transform the way they work to drive greater revenue, efficiency, and growth. His personal area of expertise is in linking strategy to execution through the most critical of resources: the organization’s people. He consistently helps leaders solve large, complex problems – especially around the topics of sales enablement and strategic execution. Tim strongly believes that if you can maximize how people work, the possible results are unlimited.
Customers who have been/are being supported by Growth & Associates include, but are not limited to: HP, IBM, Symantec, Starbucks, Walmart, Microsoft, PetSmart, Standard Bank, AstraZeneca, and Shell.
Tim's most recent book, The Power of Problems, is available as a free download now be sure to check it out!