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How to overcome trust issues before closing a sale?

Hi guys,

So I'm in the process of building a new marketing agency, providing services to international customers.

I'm facing some problems to close new customers, since the company is new, we are located in a different country than most of our prospects, and we don't have a track record or a reputation yet. The main problem that encompasses all the others is lack of trust.

The services we're offering bring value to our potential customers, and it's hard to find similar services.

The sales process is very smooth: prospects are interested by what we can do and see the value it would bring to them. Until we reach the point where it's time to close.

To give you a concrete example about how sticky this step can be, here is a situation that happened today. The prospect was very interested in our service at first, but when it came to the point where I made an offer, he told me:

Him: "We need to meet first".

Me: "I can offer you a video call on Zoom. What is your availability?"

Him: "I only meet people in my office".

Me: "Our company is based in Dubai, so this won't be possible. The only thing I can offer you is a call if you're still interested in [x advantage]."

Him: "I only pay after work is done. I know these online scams all to well".

I felt a potential power move to devaluate my service and make me want to justify myself or become needy, but also probably legitimate fear / lack of trust.

My challenge here was to stay in a position where I'm high in power (I'm bringing a lot of potential value to you with my work, I don't have to justify myself) but also while keeping the customer at the same level, in a win-win collaboration.

So here is how I approached the situation:

Me: "What I'm offering you is as an exception to start the job as soon as you approve the invoice. Once we reach 25% of the job, you will have to pay 50% of the invoice, and the 50% remaining once the job is completed (we reserve the right to delete our complete job if payment isn't done). What do you say?

Him: "For more security, I pay with Paypal".

Me: "Very well, can you send me your details so that I can prepare the invoice?".

Him: "Which details".

Me: "Your company details so that I can prepare an invoice".

He stopped replying after that.

I also did not really like to start the job without getting paid (not sure if I can avoid it while I don't have much track record), but at the same time if he doesn't pay I can always delete all the work I did like I told him. This would still be a big loss of time for me.

Here are some other things I could have done:

  •  Ask him to be more specific about what makes him think we're a scam. And then address all of his objections with facts, logic or potential solutions.
  • Frame the collaboration as win-win while handling his objections.
    For example say something like "I understand that you're afraid of getting scammed, but you would miss a big opportunity for your business by not doing this because of fear. What I offer to make you more comfortable is (what I offered with doing 25% of the work / or paying using Paypal)...".
  • Proactively offer some guarantees (payments using Paypal, agreement, etc).
    Not perfect since a lot of people that do offline business don't use or really know the advantages of Paypal, and I would also be accepting his judge frame by trying to prove myself.

Overall I'm not really satisfied with the end of the chat as the power dynamic shifted to his side, and he stopped replying after that as if he lost interest.

What do you guys think about my approach, and what would you do in a situation like this? What could be a good approach to contact him again after one day if he doesn't reply in the meantime?

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano

Interesting, thank you for sharing.

(and thank you for posting in the appropriate area, with good formatting)

All of your proposed solutions are solid.

But first, important sales / power nuances can be improved (and you may not even need any next steps).

Note:
I realize I wrote this quick and it's SUPER tough love.
Please harm yourself with antifragile ego, lots of potential gold here, but it's delivered in a super direct manner.

A few ideas:

Say Yes First. Then Propose Whatever Small Step You Can

It's more about saying yes than doing whatever he proposes.

Example:

Him: "We need to meet first".

Me: "I can offer you a video call on Zoom. What is your availability?"

"I can offer you" is disempowering and this guy was high in power.

He thought:

"YOU can offer me? No, YOU need to WIN ME OVER and adapt".

Plus, it adds an unneeded extra, future step (and whos' got time for that?).

Say instead say:

Him: "We need to meet first".

Me: "That would be ideal (align!)

I always prefer meeting partnesr in person (lead one step further! Now he thinks "he gets me, we agree")

I'm home office but luckily wearing a shirt today (laugh).
Let's take the first step now and switch a camera on and do a video (switch right there and then)

If no camera option, say:

"Give me your WhatsApp or Zoom and I'll vide call you right now".

Remember, meeting in person is for trust.
If you can convey trust with a video call, you may not need to meet in person.

Take A Step Towards Him: Propose Alternatives

IDEALLY the alternatives are workable.

But it not, it still works because it's often more about showing the attitude and willingness.

Plus, it empowers him and makes him feel heard and understood if you take his request seriously.

This other one:

Him: "I only meet people in my office".

Me: "Our company is based in Dubai, so this won't be possible. (Sbam! You just just a door in his face. And who likes having a door shut in their face?)

The only thing I can offer you is a call if you're still interested in [x advantage]."

Again, same thing, it's disempowering.

It's confrontational.

And it's not smooth.

YOU are selling, and you need to show yourself as trustworthy.

And instead, you're fielding take it or leave it.

It's as if you walk to a girl and say "I'm busy and building a huge business. A date won't be possible. The only thing I can offer you is this dick if you're still interested in good dick & money".

Yeah, that might work... 0.5% of the cases.
But you're not really gaming well and not improving your odds.
And here, you're not really selling well and not improving your odds.

Back to the sale, he's thinking:

"What comes next, he'll make an offer I can't refuse"?

I'd have reacted the same way as this guy.

His reply of "I only pay when work is done" also feels like an attempt to maintain power.

Instead, GIVE HIM OPTIONS, even if he can't use those options.

Actual scheduling is only 50%.
The other 50%, which can often enough, is for power, trust, and for keeping things cooperative / open / smooth.

For example:

Him: "I only meet people in my office".

You: "we're in Dubai, it's a bit hot but if you visit here I make sure you'll be my guest and have a good time on top of good business.

(bam, now you INVITE him as a good guest, high-power, high-warmth)

Otherwise, I'll be traveling to X, Y. and my partner to Z.

Any chance you or someone from your company might be there?

Now if he says "no", it's him who refused and him who couldn't make it, not you who is shutting a  door on his face.

VERY different dynamic, both in terms of power, and in terms of cooperativeness.


A few more, but for now, chew on these.

Do they make sense?

Transitioned, Growfast and 2 other users have reacted to this post.
TransitionedGrowfastAlexBel
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Awesome sales advice.  And I'm wondering if I can apply it to meeting grumpy truculent project stakeholders for the first time.    There s always a few around

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on January 25, 2022, 9:58 am

Interesting, thank you for sharing.

(and thank you for posting in the appropriate area, with good formatting)

All of your proposed solutions are solid.

But first, important sales / power nuances can be improved (and you may not even need any next steps).

Note:
I realize I wrote this quick and it's SUPER tough love.
Please harm yourself with antifragile ego, lots of potential gold here, but it's delivered in a super direct manner.

A few ideas:

Say Yes First. Then Propose Whatever Small Step You Can

It's more about saying yes than doing whatever he proposes.

Example:

Him: "We need to meet first".

Me: "I can offer you a video call on Zoom. What is your availability?"

"I can offer you" is disempowering and this guy was high in power.

He thought:

"YOU can offer me? No, YOU need to WIN ME OVER and adapt".

Plus, it adds an unneeded extra, future step (and whos' got time for that?).

Say instead say:

Him: "We need to meet first".

Me: "That would be ideal (align!)

I always prefer meeting partnesr in person (lead one step further! Now he thinks "he gets me, we agree")

I'm home office but luckily wearing a shirt today (laugh).
Let's take the first step now and switch a camera on and do a video (switch right there and then)

If no camera option, say:

"Give me your WhatsApp or Zoom and I'll vide call you right now".

Remember, meeting in person is for trust.
If you can convey trust with a video call, you may not need to meet in person.

Take A Step Towards Him: Propose Alternatives

IDEALLY the alternatives are workable.

But it not, it still works because it's often more about showing the attitude and willingness.

Plus, it empowers him and makes him feel heard and understood if you take his request seriously.

This other one:

Him: "I only meet people in my office".

Me: "Our company is based in Dubai, so this won't be possible. (Sbam! You just just a door in his face. And who likes having a door shut in their face?)

The only thing I can offer you is a call if you're still interested in [x advantage]."

Again, same thing, it's disempowering.

It's confrontational.

And it's not smooth.

YOU are selling, and you need to show yourself as trustworthy.

And instead, you're fielding take it or leave it.

It's as if you walk to a girl and say "I'm busy and building a huge business. A date won't be possible. The only thing I can offer you is this dick if you're still interested in good dick & money".

Yeah, that might work... 0.5% of the cases.
But you're not really gaming well and not improving your odds.
And here, you're not really selling well and not improving your odds.

Back to the sale, he's thinking:

"What comes next, he'll make an offer I can't refuse"?

I'd have reacted the same way as this guy.

His reply of "I only pay when work is done" also feels like an attempt to maintain power.

Instead, GIVE HIM OPTIONS, even if he can't use those options.

Actual scheduling is only 50%.
The other 50%, which can often enough, is for power, trust, and for keeping things cooperative / open / smooth.

For example:

Him: "I only meet people in my office".

You: "we're in Dubai, it's a bit hot but if you visit here I make sure you'll be my guest and have a good time on top of good business.

(bam, now you INVITE him as a good guest, high-power, high-warmth)

Otherwise, I'll be traveling to X, Y. and my partner to Z.

Any chance you or someone from your company might be there?

Now if he says "no", it's him who refused and him who couldn't make it, not you who is shutting a  door on his face.

VERY different dynamic, both in terms of power, and in terms of cooperativeness.


A few more, but for now, chew on these.

Do they make sense?

Very interesting, thanks Lucio for giving me the opportunity to become aware of my disempowering behavior!

These principles will definitely help me to appear as more trustworthy during my next calls, and to tame my choleric mediterranean blood ;).

All of this makes perfect sense logically speaking, this allows me to stay high in power without disempowering the other party, and while building more trust with warmth and openness.

Here is how the sales discussion could go from there:

Me: "Any chance you or someone from your company might be there?"

One principle I've learned for closing is to be directive while giving the prospect the choice to choose what he wants.

So from there if he says no, I could continue by saying:

Me: "No worries, I'm sure we will have the opportunity to meet soon in the future. Let's take the first step now and switch a camera on and do a video call. Do you have Zoom?"

During the call I would have the opportunity to offer more alternatives (Paypal, agreement, or maybe to start the work without getting paid (last option, but disempowering one)).

What if he still replies no?

I guess the same principle applies here (giving him options), even though since there has been several "no" in a row, that could also start to be disempowering for me if I don't shift the frame.

So I would try a different approach by mixing a bit of shaming while building a new collaborative frame:

Me: "Well I understand that it's hard to trust someone you just met online, but if you refuse to engage at least a bit we would miss the opportunity to build a win-win business relationship and to solve X problem. We're both working in a business and we know that you can only grow by working with others. Let's have a short call over the phone for 5 minutes to discuss about this, are you available now?".

Not sure that's ideal though, probably too pushy or confrontational.

If he doesn't reply, how could I contact him again?

So one thing I've learned is that sales is VERY close to seduction, and that a lot of skills in each fields can be transferred. And Lucio wrote an excellent article on this topic applied to seduction here: https://thepowermoves.com/7-texts-that-will-make-her-reply/

The first thing I would do is probably to call him.

Any idea on how you could approach these scenarios in a better way guys?

Quote from Lucio Buffalmano on January 25, 2022, 9:58 am

Say Yes First. Then Propose Whatever Small Step You Can

It's more about saying yes than doing whatever he proposes.

Take A Step Towards Him: Propose Alternatives

IDEALLY the alternatives are workable.

But it not, it still works because it's often more about showing the attitude and willingness.

Plus, it empowers him and makes him feel heard and understood if you take his request seriously.

Instead, GIVE HIM OPTIONS, even if he can't use those options.

Actual scheduling is only 50%.
The other 50%, which can often enough, is for power, trust, and for keeping things cooperative / open / smooth.

This is super helpful Lucio, and addresses mistakes I was also making in my own profession.

Quote from Alex on January 25, 2022, 11:29 am

One principle I've learned for closing is to be directive while giving the prospect the choice to choose what he wants.

What if he still replies no?

So I would try a different approach by mixing a bit of shaming while building a new collaborative frame:

Me: "Well I understand that it's hard to trust someone you just met online, but if you refuse to engage at least a bit we would miss the opportunity to build a win-win business relationship and to solve X problem. We're both working in a business and we know that you can only grow by working with others. Let's have a short call over the phone for 5 minutes to discuss about this, are you available now?".

Not sure that's ideal though, probably too pushy or confrontational.

If he doesn't reply, how could I contact him again?

The first thing I would do is probably to call him.

Any idea on how you could approach these scenarios in a better way guys?

Hi Alex, some thoughts in random order:

  • you know about your business a lot more than I do, and my point here may be moot, but when I read your comment on the "alternative close", the first thing that popped into my mind is that aside from techniques at the practical level, in my opinion the biggest difference is made by structuring the interaction so as to surface the needs of the customer and match them with what you offer, at a higher level. Best book I've read on the subject is "SPIN SELLING" by Neil Rackham, and I definitely recommend it if you have not read it;
  • your approach as to how to respond if he says no is frame-expanding on the "weird online meeting" frame, and also a bit threatening. If the prospect resists engaging, and building bridges does not work, what I would suggest is removing all pushes and respecting his decision (e.g. leave him free to think about it). Again, it may not be applicable to your field, but I found this approach helped me immensely in my profession;
  • if he stops replying, I would suggest just leaving it be. Re-contacting him frames you as needy, and will probably drive him away. On the other hand, if you leave him space, there may be a small chance he may change his mind.
Quote from Bel on January 25, 2022, 1:44 pm
Quote from Alex on January 25, 2022, 11:29 am

One principle I've learned for closing is to be directive while giving the prospect the choice to choose what he wants.

What if he still replies no?

So I would try a different approach by mixing a bit of shaming while building a new collaborative frame:

Me: "Well I understand that it's hard to trust someone you just met online, but if you refuse to engage at least a bit we would miss the opportunity to build a win-win business relationship and to solve X problem. We're both working in a business and we know that you can only grow by working with others. Let's have a short call over the phone for 5 minutes to discuss about this, are you available now?".

Not sure that's ideal though, probably too pushy or confrontational.

If he doesn't reply, how could I contact him again?

The first thing I would do is probably to call him.

Any idea on how you could approach these scenarios in a better way guys?

Hi Alex, some thoughts in random order:

  • you know about your business a lot more than I do, and my point here may be moot, but when I read your comment on the "alternative close", the first thing that popped into my mind is that aside from techniques at the practical level, in my opinion the biggest difference is made by structuring the interaction so as to surface the needs of the customer and match them with what you offer, at a higher level. Best book I've read on the subject is "SPIN SELLING" by Neil Rackham, and I definitely recommend it if you have not read it;
  • your approach as to how to respond if he says no is frame-expanding on the "weird online meeting" frame, and also a bit threatening. If the prospect resists engaging, and building bridges does not work, what I would suggest is removing all pushes and respecting his decision (e.g. leave him free to think about it). Again, it may not be applicable to your field, but I found this approach helped me immensely in my profession;
  • if he stops replying, I would suggest just leaving it be. Re-contacting him frames you as needy, and will probably drive him away. On the other hand, if you leave him space, there may be a small chance he may change his mind.

Hey Bell,

Thanks for your insights man.

I've read SPIN SELLING a long time ago, and I might need to refresh my memory by reading it again.

To give a bit of context, I only have discussions with prospects that already told me they're interested, and the sales "script" is structured in a way that connects the service with their needs or pain points in an efficient way. I think the main problem comes down to trust because the contact is made online (a lot of these businesses are brick and mortar, so not used to deal this way I guess).

I agree otherwise that my approach might be too aggressive.

Bel Wrote: "if he stops replying, I would suggest just leaving it be. Re-contacting him frames you as needy, and will probably drive him away. On the other hand, if you leave him space, there may be a small chance he may change his mind."

That's a serious risk indeed.

From my experience with cold outreach (I don't have that much experience in sales myself (only few hundred calls), but I've discussed with a lot of professional salespeople), you might need up to 7 contact touches before making a sale or even getting a reply.

It doesn't work well with everyone and can be very off putting, but in a "big numbers" game it seems that it gives you statistically more results.
I've had a friend who used to outreach his prospects up to 7 times on different media for his business until he got a reply or a sale, and he was quite pushy as well. That's second hand experience (empiricism, not sure if there are scientific data about it), but it seems it worked for him. Not a fan of this approach as this is objectifying the prospects and disrespectful.

So my challenge will be to approach this in the most high value way while, I will update this thread if I can find it.

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