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Most Customers Will Buy Trust Before They Buy Products

For the majority of classically trained sales people the process of convincing and persuading corrupts and compromises the selling environment of trust. Traditional sales people so often do not really see their customers. They just see dollar signs. They objectify their customers by dealing with them as targets to influence, resulting in them losing trust. When you realize that the real influence is with the customer, you change your strategy to seeking to understand and building trust before being understood. "The moment there is a suspicion about a person's motives, everything he does becomes tainted," said Mahatam Gandhi.

When trust is not authentic and is sought as a means, then the means destroys the end. You must not only be trustworthy, you need to behave and act in a way to foster trust. That means you are customer-centric and problem-centric, and not solution-centric. Most customers will buy trust before they buy products.

"We must contribute value to a relationship before we can extract value from a relationship. You need to be focused on making a difference than simply making a deal. You sell products, but we serve people," says Tom Reilly. You contribute value to a relationship when you become an impartial, trusted business advisor who is outcome neutral. You achieve this by building a business case for change, not a product case for change.

"What buyers want even if they rarely vocalize it is someone they can trust," says Charles Green. The more focused you are in meeting your own goals (quota), the less focused you will be in meeting and knowing your customer's goals. "You are more successful when you concentrate on the success of others than your own," says Randy Illig. There is a huge gap between sales people's reality of trust, and perception by customers. "90% of manufacturing companies believe they have a partnership with key accounts, yet only 5% of customers believe that partnership," from DePaul University Research.

Sales people are too quick to press their own agenda and advantage. Sales people with trust tend to temper these impulses. They have no problem having their customer press their advantage because ultimately it comes down to trust so they are patient. Trust happens when customers are willing to have their dirty laundry exposed, and it will not be exploited by sales people. This way they can be open, and not disingenuous or politically motivated. There is little time wasted posturing, and customers can feel secure sharing sensitive information. Once you have achieved this you can tap into the concept that two heads are better than one. You can have open and free discussions without fear of collateral damage. Trust ultimately has no hidden agenda and is very transparent. "Trust-based selling is rare today because sales people are not willing to put themselves at risk," says Charles Green.

Selling is a very personal interaction, yet you cannot afford to over personalize it. By that I mean when you become too personal you become non-objective and you lose trust. "Sales people depend too much, or too little on relationships," says Dave Stein. You need to balance getting very personal with your customer's business and their issues, yet you do not have a personal stake in making the deal.

Strive to be an accidental sales person. When you are un-calculated, professionally detached, objectively disinterested, and outcome neutral, you are far more believable, credible, and trusted. Where as most orthodox sales people are very premeditated and calculating. Sell as if you have no ax to grind, no personal agenda or as if you had nothing to lose by getting to the truth.

As products reach greater parity, as time becomes more compressed, customers are transitioning from putting more trust into a company's products and services, and putting more trust with the sales person. Of course only if they have earned it. And that is a steep caveat. Customers do not always operate out of their stated best interest. If they are not comfortable with the sales person, but need and want their offering, they will walk away from the situation because they are willing to pay to express their disgust or distrust with the sales person.

"People do not trust sales people. So companies have tried to preempt this negative label by calling their sales people; account executives, marketing representatives, business development managers, client acquisition executive, and business partner manager," says Dave Stein. However, the new window dressing has done little to dispel the lack of trust that is rampant in the sales profession.

When you are on a sales call you are not there for a Hallmark Card moment. You are there to help your customer determine if they should change and why. To do this you need trust, not product justification. "You have to have a business relationship of mutual trust and respect. When you lose business is it because your competitor out persuaded you, or is it the person who got to the best prospects before you did. Is it the person who is friendlier, or is it the person who somehow gets trust and respect?" says Carl Ingalls. The sales person with the most trust will consistently outsell the sales person with the best product, the best price and the best innovation.

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