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In Order to Gain Trust You Must First Extend It

It is wise and prudent to start every sales engagement with the preassumption that customers do not trust you. "A recent study found that only 4% of respondents felt complete trust in any of the persuaders they had conducted business with in the last 24 months. According to a study by the Persuasion Institute, only 12% of the prospects trusted their persuaders, while 88% of persuaders felt they had established trust," says Kurt Mortensen. This is a very surprising gap. More so than I would have thought. Obviously, sales people are oversold on their powers of persuasion.

The problem is most sales people have a genuine and authentic desire to be relationship sellers, but their actions demonstrate the exact opposite intention. There is nothing complex about the act of trust. It only becomes complicated when one withholds it. Sales people are not aware that they are withholding in most cases.

Sales people need to first give what they desire in return. If you are building long-term, trusting relationships, you need to be the first to extend trust. Also, if you do not trust your customers personally, they will tend not to trust you. When you trust them initially, you will increase your chances that you will inspire their trust.

Sales people who align with the principles of trust, internally and externally, tend to be very empathetic. Because they do not have a posture of scarcity or a posture of strict reciprocity, they have plenty of trust to give away. They do not need to be suspicious, or overly protective. Since they tend to be more open and transparent, customers are more open, forthcoming and transparent with them.

Customers in general are no longer as loyal to sales people or suppliers for performance, longevity, personal relationships and quality like they used to be in the past. However, they are still loyal to suppliers and sales people who are trusted advisors, business confidantes and strategic resources.

Customers will buy inferior products and services from sales people they trust more often than they will buy superior products and services from sales people they do not trust. The bottom line; customers rarely trust anyone they do not believe understands them.

"Imagine how much money your customer would save if they really, honestly, believed they could trust you. The need for multiple vendors, RFPs, lengthy negotiations, legal advice, required multistage processes, and cumbersome purchasing regulations would all be significantly reduced, resulting in transaction costs being greatly reduced. Trust changes the buyer/seller dynamic. The end result of seller-centric selling is a transaction or a series of transactions," says Charles Green.

The means and ends must be congruent to build trust in a selling relationship. Relationships built on trust are always greater than the sum of its parts, yet at the same time dependent on the ongoing function of its parts. When trust reaches a point where it is achieved at the expense of either the seller or the buyer, things start to disintegrate.

The strongest trust comes with no preconditions or expectations, and a willingness to forgo control. This type of trust does not harshly judge if it is getting too much or too little of trust reciprocated and it is not dependent on it. If there is no trust coming back one can exercise the right of first refusal and professionally withdraw from the relationship.

Unfortunately, the way most sales people sell encourages customers to perceive sales people selling at their expense, and they in return try to buy at the expense of the supplier. Neither sales person or customer can ask for more dichotomous interest, for these mutually exclusive goals cannot be achieved at the same time. This is where barriers to trust are created. Trust embraces and honors customers exactly as they are. Since all customers do not act according to our own idealized expectations, one must have a healthy reserve of trust and emotional stamina.

Richard Farrell is President of Tangent Knowledge Systems, a national sales development and training firm based in Chicago. He is the author of the upcoming book Selling has Nothing to do with Selling. He trains and speaks around the world and has authored many articles on his unique non-selling sales posture.

Phone: 773-404-7915
EMail: rfarrell@tangentknowledge.com
Web: http://www.tangentknowledge.com