Unless you’re selling Girl Scout cookies to family and friends, your prospects aren’t making purchasing decisions based on how much they like you. High-level prospects are far more concerned with buying from someone they trust and respect.

If you want to be seen as a trusted advisor so you can close more sales with C-suite prospects, stop trying to be everyone’s best friend. Instead, be intentional about earning the trust of your high-level prospects. Check out these 7 easy ways to get started:

1. Pay attention to body language.

Body language can influence how a prospect looks at you before you even get a chance to say your name. In fact, research shows that body language and tonality account for over 90% of how you are perceived, so it’s critical that you pay attention to those little details. Since people are more inclined to trust those who seem similar to them, try matching each prospect’s body language. Does your prospect stand tall? Lean in? Cross her arms? Pay attention and match your own body language to create a connection.

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2. Be a handshake chameleon.

Handshakes typically fall on a spectrum between super strong and passively soft. If your handshake is on the opposite end of the spectrum from your prospect, you’ll both feel an immediate disconnect. Avoid that awkward moment by acting like a handshake chameleon. Pay attention to your prospects’ approach, then instantly match it. This is a great way to immediately connect with any prospect, and it will increase the likelihood that the prospect will trust you throughout the rest of your meeting.

3. Show your expertise.

High-level prospects often view themselves as experts in their field. The good news is that you’re an expert, too. While they only see the challenges their organization is facing, you see industry trends from a bird’s eye view. Start your meeting by listing a few common challenges you’ve observed, then ask if any of those ring true to your prospect. Your prospects will appreciate your valuable insight and begin to trust you as an expert.

4. Trade enthusiasm for a low-key approach.

Being enthusiastic doesn’t make your offering sound irresistible—but it does make you sound like a cheesy salesperson. If you don’t think you’re guilty of this over-the-top approach, record your next few sales calls and play them back later. Does your voice get higher or louder? Probably. Slow down and focus on forming a genuine connection with a low-key approach.

5. Match your prospect’s tonality.

In many cases, what you say isn’t nearly as important as how you say it. Tonality refers to the pace and volume of your voice. Everyone has different opinions on ideal tonality, so the safest bet is to match your prospects in this arena. Do they speak quickly and loudly or softly and slowly? Follow their lead, and they’ll be far more comfortable with you.

6. Keep the focus on them.

Prospects only care about themselves. Unfortunately, the same thing can be said of most salespeople. If you’re quick to pitch the features and benefits of your offering, you’ll come across as being concerned with little more than closing a sale. On the other hand, if you can make the meeting all about your prospect, you’ll earn their trust when they recognize you as someone who cares to understand and serve them.

7. Dig deeply into challenges.

It’s not enough to find out what your prospect’s problems are. Dig deeper to discover your prospects’ deepest frustrations, what those challenges cost their organizations, and how your prospects are affected personally. This not only establishes you as a trustworthy expert, but also creates massive value around the solution you’ll ultimately present.

Do you struggle to earn the respect of high-level prospects? How will you use these 7 tips to adjust your approach in the future?


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.