“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.”
What Warren Buffet said about hiring is especially true in sales. You can’t develop trust in the relationships you form with prospects—whether you sell in person, over the phone or online—unless your sales process and techniques pass the integrity test. Here are four ways to build integrity into your process.
Get Four Points Every Day. Lack of a pipeline leads to desperate measures, which never pass the integrity test. Jeffrey Fox, author of “How to Become a Rainmaker” (a classic must-read), suggests this simple daily strategy for keeping your pipeline full. Allocate one point for getting a referral to a prospect; two points for setting a meeting with a prospect; three points for meeting with a prospect (whether that’s in person, over the phone or via the Web); and four points for closing a sale or taking an action leading to a sale. If you consistently focus on getting at least four points a day, you’ll always have an active pipeline and a foundation for building integrity-based sales.
Always provide your prospect with a suggested agenda in advance of your meeting, whether it’s in-person or virtual. Your prospects are busy people. They don’t have the time or inclination to second-guess your agenda. Provide an agenda in advance, with prospect-centered items such as, “Your (or your company’s) current perspectives on making (X) more cost-effective.” A prospect-centered agenda will allow you to ask questions, listen and learn what’s important to the prospect. Include three or four items, and always invite your prospect to change or add items to the suggested agenda.
Own the most effective and underutilized sales tool: the handwritten thank-you note. Courtesy and consideration for every prospect should be standard operating procedure for any sales professional. Nothing demonstrates that better than sincere thanks expressed in your own handwriting. If you don’t have company note cards, invest in understated, business quality thank-you notes and keep them in your briefcase. It consistently surprises me how few sales professionals use this elegant and effective means of communicating with their prospects.
Develop your own approach. Every sales professional needs to adapt sales techniques to fit his or her values and capabilities. If the techniques you’re using don’t pass the integrity test, your prospect will see right through the gimmicks. Always be on the lookout for tools and techniques that can improve your sales, and always integrate them into your approach with sincerity and integrity. Because that’s how your prospects want to be treated.