We’ve all heard it before: “People buy from people they like.” No matter how many people believe this, it simply isn’t true. People don’t buy from people they like; they buy from people they trust and respect. If you’re trying to be your prospects’ best friend by automatically saying “yes” to whatever they ask of you, you aren’t earning respect—and you certainly aren’t closing as many sales as you could.

Instead of trying so hard to be liked, it’s time to shift your attention to building deep connections with your prospects, built on trust and respect. Check out these 5 tips to learn how:

1. Curb the enthusiasm.

All salespeople, at some point in their careers, have been told to display enthusiasm about their product. They’re told that in order to get others interested in their offering, their own enthusiasm has to shine through first. This old-school advice has resulted in all salespeople giving the same over-the-top introduction to prospects. It sounds something like this: “Hi! How are you? I’m so excited to meet you and tell you all about what my company can do for you!”

If you think you’re innocent of making this sales-y intro, try recording your next few phone calls. Does your voice become higher and louder when your prospect answers the phone? That’s the fake enthusiasm that you have to drop. Lower your voice, slow down, and be genuine in your approach. Fake excitement sounds sales-y, but a genuine tone of voice garners trust and respect.

To learn more, check out the video below:

2. Focus on your prospect.

This might sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many salespeople start conversations with prospects by talking about themselves, their companies, and their offerings. Before you think, “I don’t do that,” grab a pen and paper and write down your answer to this question: “Why should I do business with you?”

Now, read what you wrote. Did you talk about yourself and your offering—or did you focus solely on your prospects and how they benefit from working with you? Your prospects only care about themselves. Make them the center of your conversation, and they’ll soon feel a real connection with you.

3. Offer some value.

To set yourself apart from other salespeople and establish yourself as an expert, try offering some value right out the gate. You have a unique birds-eye-view as a salesperson, so share a few trends you’ve observed in your prospect’s sector. List a few challenges that are common among your customers—challenges you can ultimately solve. Don’t jump into your solution too quickly. This is an opportunity to share some helpful information and get your prospect talking about their own challenges.

4. Transition with a question.

After you list a few recurring challenges you’ve seen in the industry, it’s time to get the prospect talking. Try simply asking, “Do any of these challenges ring true to you?”

This approach is a little bit provocative. You’ll come out swinging, but it will immediately resonate with a prospect who is experiencing those same challenges. You may be wondering, “What if they say no?” If prospects don’t have the challenges you solve, then they simply aren’t a good fit. Let them go and move onto someone who truly needs what you have to offer.

5. Get them talking about their challenges.

You’ve offered some value, listed a few key challenges, and transitioned with a question. Now your goal is to keep your prospects talking. After all, prospects will only trust you if you can demonstrate an ability to solve their key challenges—and you can’t do that until you fully understand their deepest frustrations.

Ask probing questions that will prompt your prospect to open up about their challenges. Think of yourself as a doctor who needs to hear all of the symptoms in order to properly diagnose a disease and offer a treatment plan. By using this approach, you’ll be seen as a “doctor” or expert in the eyes of your prospect and move forward with a connection built on trust and respect.

Follow these 5 tips, and you’ll start building deep connections with customers. You’ll engage prospects in better conversations—and ultimately move those conversations to more sales. Which of these tips stands out to you? How will you use it to adjust your own approach? Share your thoughts in the comments below. Check out this free Special Report on 3 Closing Questions You MUST Ask for more powerful sales advice.


Marc Wayshak is the founder of Sales Strategy Academy, best-selling author of Game Plan Selling, and a regular contributor for Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post Business section. He holds an MBA from the University of Oxford and a BA from Harvard University.