Trust is Not a Strategy, it is a State of Mind
Today's college students according to a 35 year study, have the lowest empathy on record. Imagine what they will be like when they are in sales. Lack of empathy is a killer in sales. Lots of millennials would rather have Facebook time, than face time. This type of communication preference bodes very poorly for strategic, relationship selling.
Stanford University in one of their studies found today more people spend time on the Internet than with family and friends. In today's world it is harder and harder to engage people personally. With the way customers are pulled in so many different directions, you need superior interpersonal skills to build trust and relationships and to get customers to feel confident to spend their valuable time with you.
The best of sales are done in a heightened state of trust and mutual cooperation. This fact is so old it is new, or newly defined. When trust is in play, customers are fully present and connected and not wasting their time and resources trying to protect and defend their circumstances, problems and position. This is the ultimate efficiency for both parties. Anything else can just drag things out ad nauseam.
Trusted sales consultants act as fiduciaries – that is, they put their customer's interests ahead of their own. That is not easy. But the real talented sales people selfishly do it because what is ultimately good for the goose, is good for the gander, or vice versa. According to a recent study conducted by Brigham Young University's Department of Communication, transparent companies (I would add sales people) are more trusted. More openness is the key to being trusted their study found.
"Be gloriously explicit. Tell the truth, honor your truth, and other's truth," says Scott Ginsburg. He concludes by asking, "Are you willing to live with the consequences of being honest?" One big way to dishonor one's positive intentions in sales is when one is not being honest with themselves and their customers when they embark on lost causes. Too many sales people pray at the altar of the saint of lost causes. As implied earlier, poor efficiency management is a loser for all concerned.
When you make a conscious choice to have customers work harder to make the right buying decisions for themselves, you will generally get more cooperation and long term trust. "When trust is thwarted and fruitful interaction is blocked, people play games with each other in an effort to gain political traction for their own agendas. The heart of building trust is making people feel safe enough to share uncomfortable thoughts without fear of retribution. Both parties need to reinforce candor," says Robert Whipple.
Power-hungry sales people come across as dictatorial and this sets up adversarial relationships. When you have nothing to prove or disprove your credibility is not so scrupulously examined and questioned. As we all know there is a stereotypical built-in suspicion of sales people by their prospects. For the sake of trust, sales people need to set aside their self-promotion, their personal ambitions and aspirations.
Trust is not a strategy as much as it is a state of mind. "Americans carry in their bones the country's history of being populated by immigrants fed up with hierarchy. It is the American way to distrust those who set themselves up as authorities," says Shannon Begley.
I have met very smart sales people who can act very stupid at times. They do not know that their need to prove their points causes them to have their sales points easily dismissed as self-interest and corporate propaganda. This behavior so often brings out the worst in customers because deception often begets deception. In the future, sales people will need to be more honest and forthright to earn the trust of customers who are in the driver seat and have so many choices and outlets for information.