Trust: Lead By Example
I was reading a blog by Carl Ingles of High Probability Selling that was very thought-provoking and a little disturbing at the same time only because he called into question some of my personal convictions and strategies. His sound tenet is based on the idea that the most important buying decisions hinge on whether the customer trusts and respects the sales person. Easy enough.
He says you cannot get prospects to respect and trust you with glowing reference letters and testimonials. They need to trust you before they trust these things. Totally agree. Demonstrating a firm understanding of the customer's problem, and demonstrating expertise on fixing them will not buy you respect and trust. That one hurt!
Here is his real kicker, "What if trying to get someone to trust you is what causes people to not trust you and respect you." He makes a very good, solid point. Back to the drawing board on that one.
I think it is a very fine line. His approach is very Zen like; as long as there is a conscious cultivation of any particular virtue, there can be no trust, because no virtue can be the result of conscious effort. Trust happens most effectively from the inside out.
My question is what if you do not have the God-given gift of trust embedded into your genetic code, can you still learn to behave and act in a way that is trustworthy? I definitely think you can. You just will not be able to do it at the level that the naturals do it. But empathy, a subset of trust, can be learned and cultivated.
You will not receive from another something you have not given to yourself. That is why trust has to be first addressed from the inside out. In respect to other people, the relationship you are always dealing with is the relationship with yourself and your past. Master yourself and you start to master trusting relationships with your customers.
Sales people need to own up and face their own fears and insecurities. That is why so much of sales is an inner game, not just an outer game of tactics and strategies. Selling is as much about the heart as it is about the head.
Sales people bemoan the idea that customers do not trust them, but it is a two-way street. Sales people are equally part of the problem. They have a double standard. They do not first trust customers to have the wherewithal and self-awareness to find their own answers and draw their own conclusions without the sales person force feeding them.
Orthodox sales people try to get customers to like them. They use this as the centerpiece of building trust. It is hard sometimes to get people to like you, it is not hard to find things that are likable with your customer. Liking your customer will go a long way in building a good relationship and help you act more on their behalf. But keep in mind, likability is a little overrated in sales. The importance of trust has never been overrated. Conventional sales people spend more time making friends before trying to earn the trust of their customers.
Trust usually can be validated only by trustworthy deeds. To build trust you need to lead by example thru trustworthy behavior. In sales trust is paramount. Very little happens without it. From trust comes security, from security comes receptivity, from receptivity comes informed thinking for your customer and yourself.