How To Build Trust Like an FBI Agent

I attended a conference last week (CMX Summit) that answered the question, how DO YOU engage people?

My favorite person that spoke was Robin Dreeke, former head of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Program.

Sales is about connecting people. It’s about standing out in a crowd, getting into someone’s email inbox, or setting up a meeting. You may pride yourself on being charismatic, and you probably know how to close deals.

But, do you want to know how to do it faster? And more often?

Dreeke shared some psychological life hacks that will help you build trust and form relationships faster. They are easily applicable to your sales process since sales, in essence, is all about human interaction. Dreeke argues that people do not form loyalty with organizations, they form loyalty with people. Here are 5 things you should remember when understanding your leads or prospects. The more you’re able to connect with a person, the faster the relationship can be built.

1. Learn about their priorities, goals, and objectives.

The first step to understanding anyone is taking the time to learn about them. In sales, you should immediately gauge a deeper understanding of what is top of mind for your potential customers. How do you do this?

My absolute favorite line that Dreeke said was,

“If you don’t know what to ask, ask them what their challenges are.”

This question can apply to almost every life scenario. To build the bond and trust with any relationship (even your friends), you’ll want to establish understanding for their headspace. When you ask this question, the challenge they list is their number one priority they are dealing with at that moment. They’re telling you their gut reaction and thoughts! Use that to your advantage to sell.

2. Ego suspension. Get rid of it!

Even though this seems apparent, I think this is an amazing reminder for every salesperson. Sales is inherently competitive, so there has probably been cases when your confidence has helped you close deals. The fact of the matter is, your prospect on the other end of the email or call doesn’t care if you’ve closed the most deals on your team, or your boss thinks you’re the bees knees. At the end of the day, when you let go of your ego, you’ll become a better seller.

This quote really got me thinking. “Don’t be collateral damage in someone else’s insecurities.” In sales (and life in general), it’s easy and natural to take things personally. Say you have an angry person on the other line that won’t stop yapping. The minute you realize that their anger is simply that, their anger and not yours…it’s easier to not be so affected by the situation. Dreeke says,

“People very rarely go at you for personal reasons; it’s their own insecurities.”

Keep calm, and let go of your ego when selling.

3. Allow them to talk.

You might have heard this before, but now an FBI agent is absolutely confirming it. Finding the pain points on a sales call is one of the most important first steps you can take as a salesperson. Your main goal is to figure out how your product will fit in their company’s workflow.

In Sales, the best way to get to know someone and understand them is to LISTEN. Ask discovery questions, but always make sure they are talking more than you are. They can research your product online, but this is your chance to research them.

“Validation is nothing more than asking questions and find the context”

4. Place them ahead of you

Forget about your quota, and first think about how you can help them. The minute you start caring more about them, and they can tell that you do, the better seller you’ll be.

“HELP them understand what they are trying to do and achieve it.”

5. Seek their thoughts and opinions.

A good mentality to have is to seek your leads as resources too! Get excited that with every call or email, you get an opportunity to learn more about the space you’re selling to. Try asking their advice on a specific question. It’s different from your old-school sales strategy, but it will help you build a real relationship vs. being “salesy.”

Final takeaway…

When you build trust with a person, you’re able to feel like you’re some sort of team. Having a “partner” in the sales process will help both sides achieve their goals and build champions. Robin’s 5 pieces of advice might seem simple, but if you apply them on a daily basis, I believe you’ll become a better and faster seller.

After all, if you can build trust the way an FBI officer does, it’s likely you can build trust on your sales call.

If you have any sales tips/tricks you want to learn about, tell me here!