Growing Trust

A compelling sales experience has buyers wanting you to work with them to help them address their problems and challenges. For that to happen, they need to trust you and see you as a source of value. They need to feel safe opening up to you, being vulnerable and able to say for example, ‘look I’m not confident about what I’m doing here. I need your help’. They need to see you as their Trusted Adviser.

So, we need to really understand trust and what you need to do to be of value. In this paper, I’ll cover trust.

Gaining trust is quite easy. It just takes a little time. Unfortunately, losing trust is even easier. And worse still, it happens quickly. So growing trust isn’t the issue so much. Most of us naturally do what it takes. The real challenge is to avoid undermining and losing trust. Let me explain…

What do you need to do to become trusted? What is trust exactly? Well, a guy named David Master, who in fact is credited with coining the expression ‘Trusted Adviser’ came up with the Trust Equation. It is the best definition of trust, at least in a business and commercial context that I’ve seen. It goes like this:

Trustworthiness equals creditability, plus reliability, plus intimacy over self-interest.

Let’s look at that more closely to see what it really means:

Credibility is about our words…telling the truth.

Reliability is about our actions…keeping promises.

Intimacy is about our emotions…being open and transparent.

Self-Interest is about our caring…who we put first, ourselves or the other person.

The bottom line is, tell the truth. Do what you say you’ll do. Be transparent and care about the needs of others – more than you do your own. That seems common sense doesn’t it? I mean in our personal lives too, not just business. Think about the people you trust.

Let’s move below that line. How self-interested are salespeople typically? Thinking of making the sale. What’s that? Self-interest. Asking questions to discover what products/service they need i.e. the opportunities there could be for us? Self-interest. Talking about our company, products or services? All self-interest.

So, what are the chances of us growing trust with the traditional sales dialog? Not a lot. At least not before the sale. Notice that the top line of the equation is all about focusing on the other person.

There’s hard evidence for this. Salespeople are starting well behind in the trust stakes. Buyers are initially suspicious of them. In annual surveys (Google them) salespeople consistently rank at the bottom along with politicians and talkback radio hosts. And the most trusted? Paramedics, Firefighters and Rescue Volunteers.

So, the most trusted professions? Those that care about others. No self-interest. Compared with the bottom of the trust ranking, which are professions driven by self-interest. So, given what you now know about growing trust, is it any wonder that traditional sales techniques e.g. questioning to unearth needs, discussing and promoting products, are absolutely what you don’t want to do. They just don’t work.

Growing trust in business is no different to doing so in your personal life, because trust is personal. It’s about you and how you interact with and treat other people.

Remember the equation. Carry it around on a piece of paper in your wallet or purse. In particular, whenever you hear yourself talking about you and yours, remember you’re upping that sale-interest and diluting your trust score!

 

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