Trust Cannot Be Created in an Inbox to Inbox Relationship
We live in a world of hyper-connectivity, electronic information exchange and information abundance. Information is available anywhere, anytime whether we want it or not. Customers isolate themselves as much as possible from information overload by locking sales people out of their decision-making process. They often do not trust sales people's advice or value their insight.
Trust is on the wane in the business world for all the obvious reasons. We now live in a business world of rampant mistrust. And sales people are definitely high on the list. However, the more technological and impersonal our business climate becomes, the more customers will need personal connection or touch to feel truly connected. Those progressive sales people who can create trust and personal connections will be the big winners in the future. As selling becomes more complex and sophisticated it will rely more and more on trust, empathy and social intelligence.
Hi-tech hyper-connectivity has eroded personal relationships. More than ever sales people will need soft skills in a hard wired world. If you think trust and credibility is hard to convey today in our digital economy, imagine how much harder it is going to be in the near future.
However, with all the revolutionary changes in the world of professional one-on-one selling, one constant still remains; people buy from people. When people buy from people, trust will always be the best strategy to hitch your horse to.
If customers do not want any personal input, from you then you have to question if it is worth your personal output. Without any personal input on your part you have been essentially relegated to an untrustworthy commodity play. This becomes even more pronounced when customers are only interested in a distant online relationship, instead of a personal off-line relationship. If you are in a sales position that requires personal touch points and your customer only wants an inbox to inbox relationship, you are obviously going to be in big trouble. I fondly call these failed connections Facebook relationships, where nothing of substance really happens.
The idea that one can buy it now and worry about it later is what trust in sales is all about. "The degree of trust one feels towards the product, rather than an assessment of the features and benefits, will determine whether one will buy this product or that product," says Tom Freese. I would add that the degree that they trust you will greatly determine whether one will get the business. Keep in mind you are the product. The more customers trust you, the more they will trust your offering.
Trust is reduced tremendously as long as sales people appear as opportunistic, shameless mercenaries, economically motivated and looking like company lobbyists. Customers know most mainstream sales people serve two masters, their customers and their pocket books. Sales people are distrusted by customers because they know most sales people see them as simply as a means to an end, or as a tool for their own personal ambitions.
"Trust is like sincerity, it is difficult to define and very difficult to remanufacture. The easiest way to create trust is to eliminate the things that undermine it," says Tim W. Galloway. The curse of gab, the love of demonstrating one's worldly knowledge and intelligence, getting too friendly too fas,t and the love of the black art of selling are all factors that undermine trust.
Most personality sales people sell with the presumption that they are arriving on the scene with trust and influence solidly intact. The trust-centered sales person presumes nothing. They know trust and influence has to be incrementally earned. They position themselves early on to demonstrate behavior that shows a lot of trust.
It is not easy to create trust. Trust will find you for who you are, more than what you say. If you do not understand yourself, you will find it hard to understand anybody else. Self-awareness is very important along with emotional intelligence in creating good trusting relationships. The level you trust yourself frequently will be the level you will be able to project it on to your customers. " A man who does not trust himself can rarely trust anyone else," said Cardinal De Rets.
Conventional sales people position themselves and tie themselves to their company's credibility and their product's credibility. Your credibility actually comes more from within, not from without. It comes more from what is intangible than what is tangible. It is not what you say, it is how you relate to others. Selling with trust takes more time and effort on the front end because you are positioning and aligning yourself and your offering first from the customer's perspective, not your own. You are trying to be congruent with their frame of reference, not yours. This generally will increase your chances of operating in a climate of trust.
Selling your self was always the iconic way to sell. It was essentially a personality and friendship contest; an Eddie Haskell approach to selling. It was a noble strategy with good intention that was frequently poorly executed. Today's customers need to know who you are before they trust you, but not in a superficial personality way like bygone years. Their standards are far more exacting now. Customers connect now more on your ability to understand them, than concluding how friendly and personable you are. "Whether or not the customer chooses to deal with you has a lot to do with how you choose to deal with them," says Tom Freese.
Empathy, social intelligence and trust is seeing the world of your customer through their eyes, and understanding and respecting their unique point of view, especially if it goes against yours. There is not a sales person who does not try to believe they are selling this way. Unfortunately, few are succeeding at it because it directly conflicts with their strong economic motives and big personality. Believing or acting that you know what is best for the customer is not the best way to build trust,P and besides few sales people can pull it off effectively.