A One-Month Plan to Build Your Sales Credibility [Sales]

This article was published by LinkedIn Sales Solutions Blog and curated by Closer Spot. Be sure to check out other Closer Spot news and advice to help you win more business.

Credibility has never been more important than it is in the internet/social era. Theoretically, a sales pro could do everything right yet still generate lackluster results due to a lack of credibility and social proof. That’s because buyers are essentially putting their own reputations in the hands of the people they choose to do business with. Understandably, few buyers are willing to risk their reputation by blindly trusting a sales rep with unclear credentials.

The good news is that you can proactively boost your credibility. And when your credibility rises, you naturally gain the trust of more potential buyers. Who doesn’t want that?

Here’s a step-by-step, four-week process you can use to become instantly credible in the eyes of your top sales prospects.

Week 1: Make Yourself Approachable
Your first order of business is making sure you come across as someone who buyers can see themselves working with. When you make a bad impression it almost always ruins any chance with a prospective buyer. Plus, it could affect other potential deals once that person shares their poor opinion with colleagues and peers. (For more on this, download LinkedIn’s Definitive Guide to Smarter Sales Engagement).

Simply put, you need to come across as likeable. In his touchstone classic, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert C. Cialdini – a respected social scientist – outlines the six triggers that cause people to automatically behave in certain ways. One of those triggers is likability – the more likeable someone is, the more easily we are persuaded by them. According to Cialdini, we're more inclined to like and engage with someone who has been helpful.

To that end, your LinkedIn profile should inform and inspire by clarifying all the ways you provide value. It should be customer-centric, underscoring all the ways customers benefit from working with you.

To test whether you’re hitting all the right notes, Google yourself using a variety of search keywords prospective buyers would use to find a sales pro like you. At every point, confirm you are giving prospective clients a reason to follow you, or at least accept your invitation to connect. Once you’ve experienced the online “you” from a potential buyer’s point of view, identify everything that could cause sales prospects to question your credibility. That’s your homework.

Week 2: Eliminate Common Errors
In the second week, get down to the nitty-gritty and address every little detail that could cause prospective buyers to click away. Here are some of the most common errors:
  • Using a questionable photo. LinkedIn is a network of professionals, so use a photo that shows you in a professional light, not one that shows you looking goofy at the holiday party.
  • Overlooking the headline. Don’t waste your headline by simply using it to state your job title. Instead, make it a compelling descriptor of the value you deliver using keywords prospective buyers are likely to use when searching for a solution.
  • Wasting valuable real estate. Vagueness in your profile paves the way for uncertainty in the minds of prospects. Take advantage of the 2,000 allotted characters to sum up who you are and what makes you different.
  • Giving no reason to return. Your goal is to establish and build relationships over time. That means keeping people engaged via your profile after the first visit. One way to do that is by making sure your profile points people to content they may find interesting.
  • Using trust-killing phrases. Actions speak louder than words so let your achievements speak for themselves and stop using trust-killing phases such as “Trust me…” and “To be honest…”
To make sure you don’t miss anything obvious, recruit a marketer or respected sales colleague to give your LinkedIn and other social profiles a once over, looking for grammatical errors and other blunders.

Week 3: Gather Proof
You can make all the claims in the world, but they’re worthless unless you can substantiate them. This is the week you focus on bringing in social proof to back up your claims.

Social proof is another of Cialdini’s six triggers of influence. People generally feel safer following the pack. Assure prospective buyers that others like them have realized value by engaging with you. This assurance may come in the form of customer testimonials, case study excerpts, and even endorsements from partners and other relevant parties.

It is much easier to solicit endorsements and testimonials if you’ve done the same for others. In other words, give to get. And the more proactive you are with your generosity, the more likely those recommendations will come your way without you even making a request. Just make sure your recommendations are warranted and sincere.

Another way to prove yourself worthy of engaging is by demonstrating your industry expertise. After all, 77% of buyers don’t believe that sales reps understand their business well enough. Take the first step toward acquiring a key industry certification this week by enrolling in a course.

A collection of endorsements, testimonials, and credentials speaks glowingly on your behalf 24 x 7 x 365. All told, they give buyers a solid picture of how others perceive you – and more confidence that you can and will back up your words with action.

Week 4: Put It All Together – Credibility for Every Pipeline Stage
At this point, you are equipped to build upon all the work you’ve done in the previous three weeks. Now it’s time to set yourself up for situational success. Here are a few ways to demonstrate credibility at every stage of engagement with prospective buyers:
  • Early: Bookmark thought leadership blog posts, articles, reports, videos, podcasts, and other resources you can share with buyers who are exploring top-of-mind issues.
  • Middle: Brainstorm the top questions and objections buyers have during the sales process and have client testimonials or case studies that speaks to specific issues at the ready. If you don’t have this type of content, don’t be afraid to request it from your marketing department.
  • End: Be ready to present TCO and ROI calculators to prospects who are getting ready to make their purchase decision.
For one month, devote just an hour per week to building credibility, and you’ll be well on your way to trusted advisor status.

Download LinkedIn’s Definitive Guide to Smarter Sales Engagement for additional strategies shown to overcome the problems that plague modern sales teams.