There is No Deep Trust Without Risk
The Internet has reduced communication barriers and at the same time has raised barriers. People can easily connect, but are they really communicating and are they really building relationships?
"What's happening now, though, is part of the irony of digital media. As the world is more connected digitally, it only seems to accentuate the need for personal interaction," says Mike Federle. The problem is customers will not give sales people access to them unless they trust them personally and whether they trust their ability to create valuable insight.
Connection is hard today. People do not even have their cell glued to their ears anymore. That is too time consuming and requires too much emotional energy. Now their head is down and they play with their thumbs. Many customers will do everything possible to keep you online (email/voicemail) and out of touch and out of range because they do not see value in direct contact.
In some cases sales people can only get as far as an online, Internet and email relationship. They never get as far as an off-line relationship. A lot of sales people are only getting the equivalent of a "like" on Facebook from clients. It strokes the ego, but it does nothing to enhance personal connection and relationships.
Traditional relationship selling thrived in the go-go days where commodities reigned (if they like you they will buy from you). However, there are fewer commodity products sold today than ever before. And so many fewer are sold by professional sales people. Thanks Google! Hence, the traditional model of differentiating yourself by having people like you has become less influential.
Today, a lot of traditional sales people are half beaten before they even get started, because there is little trust, credibility and need for conventional information pushers. However, this does not stop sales people from trying to make up for their lack of relevancy by trying to make the sales call all about personality/charisma.
This is a wild guess, but maybe one third of sales people try to make a sales call a popularity contest. I call it speed dating on steroids. Too many smart, well intended sales people remind me of the movie character played by Eddie Murphy where he goes around boasting, "I'm Jack McCall. This is what I do. I can talk anyone into anything."
In 2012 UCLA Film and TV Archive did a retrospective of Spencer Tracy entitled, "That Natural Thing." Unlike other actors, Tracy was not handsome, glamorous or controversial. He was plain, ordinary vanilla and still extraordinary. His earnest, wry and straight-shooting personality truly resonated with audiences then and now.
Tracy would be an ideal figure to model in sales. He had a rare combination of skepticism and guilelessness. He was guillable but not. But most noteworthy, he was trustworthy because there was no hype. Audrey Hepburn called him a baked potato, plain but genuine. Too few traditional sales people today create relationships in a genuine, sincere and authentic way.
There is an inverse relationship between control and trust. "The more you control the less you'll be trusted. Trust is an act of opening up, it's a mutual relationship of transparency and sharing. The more you find ways to reveal yourself and listen to others the more you will build trust, which is your brand," says Jeff Jarvin.
"If you don't open up and be forthright it's hard to collaborate. Intimacy is about emotional closeness concerning the issues at hand. It's driven by emotional honesty, a willingness to expand the bounds of acceptable topics, while maintaining mutual trust and by respecting boundaries. Greater intimacy means that fewer subjects are barred from discussion," says Charles Green. Only seasoned strategic sellers generally are open to having the call go any way so that they can save time, maximize trust and flow of information.
The key is to get very close to your customer professionally, and stay arm's-length from the outcome of the sale. Not easy! "Establishing intimacy is playing a game of mutually increasing risk. One party offers a piece of themselves and the other party either responds (thereby deepening intimacy), or chooses not to respond (thereby drawing an intimacy line). Behaving appropriately requires knowing when to take a risk and knowing when not to," says Charles Green.