Trust Takes Time and Can be Destroyed Instantaneously
Customers and sales people unfortunately are not always highly compatible. They both outwardly start off with compatible goals and then things start getting messy with each one clinging to different self-serving outcomes. Trust and respect is compromised and it becomes one big cluster mess and free-for-all.
Since sales people are the proactive party in the selling/buying engagement they need to take every precaution to minimize distrust and maximize trust. This becomes difficult because mainstream sales people do not know how to position for trust. They would rather hammer customers with product information so they can have the positive high of being in control. Unfortunately, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
Trust is circular. What you put out comes back to you. What you hold in cannot reach others so it cannot return to you. So you need to extend trust to get trust. The more authentic, real and trustworthy you become, the more you grant your customer to return the favor.
What is really interesting and paradoxical, is the more you get to deeply know your customers through probing questions about their business, problems and priorities, the greater the likelihood that a simple transference happens and they really get to know and trust you. This is a very personal journey for both parties and one that enhances building lasting relationships.
The more you are preoccupied with your goals, closing, quotas and selling, the less you are able to be preoccupied with your customer's preoccupations; pressing problems and priorities. When you are self-centered customers intuit they are being treated as mere objects of your self-serving goals. "The higher your self-orientation, the lower your trustworthiness. If your attention is devoted inward you will not be trusted. Here is the psychology of it. You are not as good as you think you are, you are not as bad as you think you are, you just think more about yourself than others think about you. To live between your ears, is to live in enemy territory," says Charles Green.
Too often orthodox sales people are narcissists and they destroy close, trusting relationships. "The narcissist's worldview is that life is a zero-sum game. They look at every interaction as a competition, one where there are no ties, and where one can only win or lose. They only see what is overt, tangible and concrete. Their obsession with the overt makes them blind to the subtle, implied, the covert. They conceal their agendas beneath an engaging veneer, nonetheless their goal is to gain the advantage, and to relentlessly dominate with no chance of compromise," says John Berlinger Hardy. Mainstream sales people are so focused on their outcomes, that they are blinded by reality. This is reinforced by research that claims 70% of customers leave their suppliers because the rep was indifferent to their needs.
Giving your customers the security and peace of mind of ample space and lots of room to maneuver as they seem fit, is a great way to empower them and extend trust. When you trust, respect and honor your customers, you let them in easily and you let them go easily when appropriate. "Only the reciprocated part of a relationship is effective. It follows that the rest is either an investment or a waste," says Diana Woodburn.
Traditional sales people do not trust their customers enough. They have an attitude that one does not wait around for anyone else to give them what they want. So they go out and get it themselves. They aggressively exercise their will. They capitalize on all their advantages. To protect themselves, customers return the favor and capitalize on all their advantages, and make no mistake they often will not leave without any prisoners in their wake.
To connect better from a position of trust, it helps for sales people to have an open and healthy dose of self-awareness; feelings, faults, strengths. Self-reflection allows us to come to terms with people who are different than us and allows us to broaden our appeal to all the different personalities that we will ultimately engage.
Jumping to positive conclusions for sales people is a temptation that few can resist. Do not let your cockeyed optimism and positive affirmative selling style get in the way of being a trusted counselor. Traditional sales people do not trust customers to think for themselves, because they fear losing control of the sale. "Ironically, fear of losing the sale is likely to cause you to behave in non-trustworthy ways and thus increases the odds of losing the sale. Others among us feel deeply troubled by this oppositional role; our greatest fear is that we may get the sale through some form of manipulation. So we compensate by not asking for the sale (sabotaging ourselves) or by giving away too much (with the same result). Ironically, this form of internal self-conflict signals a warning to customers; watch out, this person can't be trusted," says Charles Green.