Trust is the New Currency of Choice in the Information Age
Why are people at cocktail parties who ask the most questions always complemented by others as being so interesting? The reality is they are not interesting at all; at best they are interested. The person who is answering all the questions really thinks they are the most interesting person in the world to have someone else spend so much time on them by putting them on a pedestal, giving them all the attention and patiently listening to them. They are simply transferring and projecting. Questions build trust and intimacy in all sales engagements.
The new buzzword to partner with your customer is collaboration. However, too often it is a hollow pursuit, because you cannot hope to be in a trusting, collaborative relationship with someone until you have first demonstrated your ability to collaborate on the front end by really understanding their business and unique challenges.
If you are trying to collaborate and your customer is freezing you out, you need to ask yourself if your customer wants to be in a true relationship. Depending on how you answer this it will determine your commitment to this particular relationship, at this particular time. If they do not need your valuable insight, you have very little to offer other than an off the shelf commodity offering.
Trusting relationships in sales, as in life, are built on the foundation of professionally letting your customer in and letting them go when appropriate. Giving your prospects free will, no obligations and no strings attached is an excellent tool to help build trust and rapport. Sales people too often hold on to prospects too tightly and at the same are pushing them away.
As in a court of law, anyone who has a personal investment in the outcome is considered an unreliable and untrustworthy source. Building trusting relationships is a balance between personally connecting with your customer, but at the same time not being personally invested in your own agenda.
Sales people sometimes fault at trying to be too personal, too soon (getting customers to personally like them), and not personal enough to really understand their customer's operation and their business problems.
The more you are attached to making the sale, the more susceptible you are to being controlling, dominating, subtly demanding and aggressive, and the more likely your customer is going to feel like an object.
One of the hardest things to do in a business relationship is to be outcome neutral. It is always safe and practical to always expect the unexpected. As long as you take 100% personal responsibility for your wins and losses, you will not place inappropriate expectations on your customers. Imagine what this does to take all the pressure off for customers and sales people alike.
The less you take things personally in sales, the more you are able to bond, connect, mutually collaborate and build long-term relationships. So establish and create business stature and equality early on in the sales process to increase your chances of maximizing trust.
Most mainstream sales people who fancy themselves as relationship sellers are only doing so after the fact. They achieve trust through successful implementations of their solution with all the follow-up servicing, but they are not good at achieving trust in the critical early stages of collaboration and discovery (customer's problems and priorities).
Conventional relationship sellers are great at relating to a fault. Everyone loves them and yet no one extends the confidence and trust to buy from them consistently. Most traditional sales people live in a frustrating state of contradiction. They genuinely want to help and create value, yet their actions and behavior speak the exact opposite.
I'm guessing that less than 10% of sales people naturally command and exude trust. The rest of us mere mortals (90%) must rely on purposely extending trust by being free of self-interest, self-influence, fluff and bias.
The mere mortals of the selling population must be more forthcoming, operate in an environment of full disclosure and be very good at asking thought-provoking questions.
Most average sales people will struggle with this, because to do so would be a huge blow to their ego and their need to be in control. They thrive on selling from an invulnerable position of strength. Also, they fancy themselves as naturals and do not see why they need to go out of their way and ask such pointed questions when it is fairly obvious that their solution should carry the day.
"As the pace of change accelerates in the future trust will become an invaluable selling asset. Most importantly trust will become the critical factor because without the luxury of time, trust will be the new currency of our times, whether in news sources, economic systems, political figures, even spiritual leaders. As change accelerates, it will remain one true constant," says Bill Hayes.