Make Yourself Trustworthy Before You Position Your Uniqueness
Corporations do not buy and companies do not sell. People do. Selling is an interpersonal art and science with trust as its foundation. The key is to make yourself trustworthy before you make yourself or your product different. Trust comes first and your offering is one of the last considerations.
Trust in sales is hard-won and easily lost. "Your ability to connect can be lost in a fraction of the time it took to develop it," said Nick Jones. Conventional sales people have unwittingly been schooled to incorporate manipulative strategies which only decreases trust.
Orthodox sales people suffer from the delusion of trust. They so often falsely assume trust, or believe the superior nature of their offering will ultimately produce trust. However, for most sales people, until you have given trust you will not receive it.
Only the top 2% of the sales population successfully sells intuitively, instinctively and without deliberation. Trust is not a strategy for them, it is just part of their natural makeup. Traditional sales people make up for their own lack of natural talent in trust by trying to mimic the top 2%, but unfortunately they do it very unnaturally and very inauthentically. They use their personality to compensate for their lack of talent. This is where the house of cards falls apart. Ironically, often the more deliberate one is in a skill set that they have not mastered, the more ineffective they are in executing it. "Building rapport does not work. It actually creates call resistance on the part of clients. Developing relationships of mutual trust and mutual respect does work," says Jacques Werth.
Personality sellers can open doors, but rarely can they keep them open for long. Mainstream sales people are so fixated on making a positive, friendly, first impression, and positioning their offering from an irrefutable position of strength, that they neglect to focus on customers who at this point start to feel neglected and irrelevant. Sales people project a sense of entitlement to get their needs met before their customers get their needs met.
Sales people become a walking and talking cliché by trying so hard to ingratiate themselves with customers, and to make friends with them, instead of simply trying to position themselves for trust. From the customer's perspective any attempt at forced friendliness is looked upon with skepticism. Trust is created when both the sales person and the customer do not pander to opportunism.
Integrity is the cornerstone of trust. Most mainstream sales people do not have the natural ability to project integrity by their mere presence. So they need to communicate by their careful choice of words and behavior, and then over time through their authentic intent and attitude. Behavior drives intent. Integrity and trust is communicated when you do not position your offering as the end-all be-all; you are not all things to all people. Vulnerability is one the greatest strengths in building trust and integrity. Like Icarus, personality sellers and self-proclaimed stylists fall to their own mystique because they are also too close to the sun.
There is a small window of opportunity to initially create trust in a sales call. Yet, conventional sales people try to take control too early on, take the bull by the horns and try to make a big initial splash. They have a bloated opinion of their offering in how it relates to the grand scheme of things in their customer's business. Invariably this strategy backfires for most and trust is lost. Do not be afraid to expose your offering to opposing ideas and options. This gesture of good faith goes a long way with an open-minded customer. "I can say this for radical honesty. Whenever I'm radically honest, people become radically honest themselves. In fact, all my relationships could take a whole lot more truth than I expected," says A.S. Jacobs.
Only reciprocated trust and integrity represent real relationships. "The only situation in which a collaborative, cooperatives relationship will exist is where the two parties have the same amount of power and a high degree of common trust. Power is linked to the perceived degree of dependency on the partner," says Diana Woodburn. Mainstream sales people set themselves up for subordinate interactions by their conviction that people solely buy from sales people who they personally find likable and friendly. Ironically, they buy from sales people who have demonstrated expertise in knowing their unique challenges, connect on an emotional level and have business equality with their customers.
Sales people lose trust, credibility and integrity when they are so focused on winning and beating the competition. The degree you want something from your customer, is the degree you will not achieve trust and credibility. Sales people give their power away and lose authenticity when they are attached to wanting something from someone other than just the plain truth of their intent and needs. "Persuasion is counter-productive when applied to the selling process. The harder you push someone to change their mind the less they will trust you," says Charles Ingalls.
It is estimated that 70% of Americans believe that other people cannot be trusted. Imagine how high it is in the profession of selling. Orthodox sales people are not trusted and taken seriously because they are perceived as self-seeking and self-oriented. Their entire sales strategy is very self-referential. Their lack of business knowledge and thought provoking questions heightens customers suspicions that they have hidden agendas and have an ax to grind. All these indictments destroy empathy, which is a critical skill set in the information economy.
As long as you have your eye on the prize and you have fixed expectations, you will not give customers the feeling of trust to think out loud, do mutual brainstorming, and seek their own answers and come to their own conclusions. "You get paid for the relationship, not the product or service. Your value-add lies not in the product but in the relationship. In trust-based selling people buy the relationship and pay for it in the product," says Charles Green.