Did you see the LinkedIn post, by the VP at Workday? He was expressing his frustration with the barrage of so many salespeople, whom he did not know yet requested a meeting to uncover issues facing the VP so they can (in his words) sell him services he does not need. The post generated many responses but since I cannot find it anymore, assume it has been removed. What were the comments?

The various comments ranged from empathy to a diatribe on the number of annoying salespeople using LinkedIn, to sellers who do not know how to sell and finally, a few, challenged the VP on his refusal to be more open to learning new ideas from industry sources.

His post generated some questions in my mind: how are salespeople using LinkedIn? Were they trained? Are sellers using LinkedIn annoyingly as the VP at Workday claims? In my experience, salespeople do not know how to engage on LinkedIn, they lack sales etiquette and are clueless when it comes to bonding, rapport and establishing trust. I blame their sales managers who I suspect don’t know how to sell in today’s digital environment. As I wrote in a previous blog, How We Sell Is Going Through The Next Evolution, sales effectiveness is shifting away from the traditionally interruptive sales methodology. Although I taught traditional sales methods for years, I now see it as overly expensive and fails to produce results in the digital marketplace. Sales managers who embrace traditional sales plainly see this decline but either don’t know another system or are too fearful to learn an alternative.

How to develop rapport and bonding

Establishing trust is foundational in any selling process. It is critical for a salesperson to create an atmosphere whereby the prospect lowers his skepticism and engages with an open mind.

A quick review of sales training curriculum will show the importance of bonding and rapport, but many courses fall short in reinforcing it throughout the selling process. It sounds easy. Build rapport with a prospect by finding something interesting to talk about in the prospect’s office, right? Wrong. Commenting on the stuffed Marlin on the wall of the prospect’s office or the tennis photo will not add one ounce of bonding to your selling repertoire. So, don’t do it.

If you are meeting a prospect or client face-to-face, you can develop rapport by “reading” your prospect’s body language, listening to their tonality, understanding their personality types and communication styles. Bonding and Rapport are the keys to building trust and, through trust, you can build on your relationship with honesty. Unfortunately, these skills are rarely taught in a sales training class. Ok, so that is in a face-to-face environment. How to create TRUST online?

What are the components for building Trust?

The same trust building components you use to create personal relationships can be utilized online. Moreover, it takes the same amount of time and effort: you cannot build trust overnight. It takes time. Let’s look at four tips you can practice, now:

  • Research commonality and convey appreciation: what do you have in common with the person and why should they speak with you? Some suggestions are alumni groups, sharing of similar industry issues, friends, interest groups who share your love to golf, ski or surf. Comment on their blogs. Introduce yourself at networking events. Be sincere. If you see a blog or comment you like, let them know.
  • Communicate: be clear with what you say and reinforce it with what you do. Listen and validate. Practice active listening. Stay in touch periodically with something they find interesting.
  • Sell by not selling: provide education and advice to help your prospect. Cold calling, e-blasting and shoving your business card in stranger’s faces is a disruptive annoyance, costly and just not practical. Be considerate, be interested in the prospect, be respectful of their time and where they are on their buyer’s journey. Be frictionless.
  • Be honest: by providing the best solutions for your prospect needs irrespective of who makes it or provides the product. WHAT? If your solution does not fit their challenge, help them find one that will.

As mentioned, building rapport, bonding and developing trust takes time. Do you remember learning the lifetime value (LTV) of a client? It is like compounded interest; it is revenue that builds over time. Your return (or your company’s return) received, comes from finding solutions for, and building relationships with, client’s over their lifetime. This could mean years or even decades. It turns out, LTV is huge. Kissmetrics has a great example using Starbucks. Lifetime value will always beat short-term gains.

Alternatively, what are some of the online sales blunders committed on LinkedIn?  I am certain they are endless. Here are a few I noticed.

  • Make or claim fake connections
  • Do not do any research ahead of time before speaking with the prospect
  • Do not find relatable topics, shared values, and interests
  • Do not use your connections appropriately

So, the answer to “Can Sales Develop Trust on LinkedIn” is YES. How? Resist the quick fixes to boost sales with fake claims and blast messaging. Second, let’s make sure sales training, and sales coaching are part of the business curriculum. Let’s not confuse knowing your prices, features, and benefits with knowing how to sell! Being successful in sales is much more.

If you want to improve your sales performance, apply these three suggestions daily. If you liked this blog, please share on social media. If you are a business owner, sales manager or a sales professional looking to develop your growth strategy, let’s talk. I am Will Harley, with Harley-Consulting, a growth services company. With over 20 years of business leadership experience, I leverage my experience to help professionals achieve their goals. To learn more, click on subscriber section. Or, leave a comment; I promise to reply immediately.