As you’ll remember from last month, we started talking about the five steps for gaining trust. The first two steps were propriety and intent statement. I believe you have already gained a clear understanding as to the importance of your overall presentation: personal habits, the way you dress, the way you look and the way you present your message.

We’ll also assume that you’ve mastered an effective intent statement, which tells potential clients what the agenda is and that there is no pressure to purchase the product or service at this exact moment.

To deliver your effective intent statement, remember that great salespeople warm up before meeting the client. When you watch a sporting event, one thing you notice is that athletes always warm up before they go on the field. Remember to always go through an agenda and know what you are going to talk about. Remember the fine points you want to bring up during your presentation. And always have a mental picture of you shaking hands with the client and congratulating them on a wise financial decision.

The last three steps to increasing trust and reducing sales resistance are so important they have their own nickname, “The Three Cs”: commonality, credibility and competency.

Step 3: Commonality

Why is it so important to have common ground? During the early stages of the sales process, you should search for areas of interest you share with the new prospect and future client. The supply of topics is limitless. For example, you could talk about passions, hobbies and current events. You have heard the old saying, “make a friend and you can make a sale,” but I am not confident that this is true. You can’t expect to be friends with all your clients, but you should be able to relate to them and their experiences and find common ground.

Most people prefer to do business with people like themselves. That is why I believe you should define who your ideal client is, determine the aspects of their personality, which blend with yours and then go for that type of client.

Here are some sample questions to ask your clients and prospects: How long have you lived here? How did you and your wife (or husband) meet? Tell me about your children. What are your financial goals?

You are searching to find personal information, so you need to ask open-ended questions to prompt that person to start talking about themselves. Your objective is to create trust.

When people understand that you are similar to the type of person that they are, you are going to find things in common which will automatically create a bond of trust between you.

My next point may seem very basic, but it is extremely important. Most of the time when I speak with reps about their client situation, they are missing an immense amount of pertinent information. They know nothing about the client’s background, goals or objectives. Get to know their passions and dislikes; what makes them sad, angry or happy.

Furthermore, find out their favorite color, song, band, TV show, golf course, and drink. Remember: Knowledge = Power. The more you learn and implement properly, the more you earn.

Next month, we will visit the last two steps to gaining trust: Credibility and competency.