The Invisible Wall of Distrust
You can’t see it.
You can’t hear it.
You can’t touch it.
You can’t even smell it.
But make no mistake; it’s there…the invisible wall of distrust.
Your buyer knows it’s there and sees it with perfect clarity. It’s the elephant in the room that they rarely tell you about. One brick at a time, year after year, it was built with the mortar of false promises and layers of incompetence.
MBA students in my Sales Management and Strategies course at Loyola are fairly reserved. When I asked them to think about the perceptions they have of sales people, hands started flying toward the ceiling. “Dishonest”, “money motivated”, “interested in making their quota”, “don’t listen”, “don’t follow through”, “talk too much” and the list goes on. Suddenly, they all found their voices at once. More proof the wall exists.
Trust, as Stephen M.R. Covey calls it, is the one thing that means everything. Without it, friendships dissolve, marriages deteriorate, communities divide and governments fall. On the other hand, high trust relationships strengthen people, teams, organizations, cities and even countries. In the business world, sales people who seek trust centered relationships will experience a road less traveled; but, find it a worthwhile journey.
So how do most sales reps deal with the wall? Here are a few ways for starters:
• They are unaware it exists. (Not after reading this).
• They ignore it.
• They shift blame (not my fault, the last rep did that to you).
• They go around or over it (a great way to turn the wall into a fortress).
• They lower their price (sorry, it’s still standing tall).
• They delay or procrastinate.
• They give up.
The wall exists because sales people inside and outside of your industry have violated the same basic principles that I call the five pillars of TRUST. So what are the principles?
Transparency – Have no hidden agendas. Don’t say your product can do something you’re not sure it can do. Be upfront about anything and everything that the customer could perceive as a “surprise”. Someone once said, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to destroy it.”
Reliability – Making promises that you keep are trust deposits. Making promises that you break, are at best withdrawals and at worst, overdrafts. Follow through on your commitments. According to a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review that rated the biggest mistakes sales people make, one in five reps fail to follow through.
Understanding – According to that same study, one in five sales reps don’t listen to customer needs. “First seek to understand, then to be understood”, says Dr. Stephen Covey. From my twenty six years in the sales arena, too many reps “show up and throw up”, dumping irrelevant information and experience. Listen, listen and then listen. Instead of thinking about what you want to say next, try clarifying anything you’re unsure about. Then understand the impact to the customer.
Sincerity – Show the customer that you care. The old saying, “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care” still rings true. Be honest and genuine – they can see through the invisible wall and they can also see through insincerity. What can you do tomorrow to show your customers that you are sincere?
Transform – When you’re viewed as a “me too” supplier, the only way you can provide value is to lower your price. That’s a pattern that leads to nowhere. Instead, bring your customer to a new place. Help them uncover a need that no one has revealed to them and then lead them to a desired outcome.
Putting the five pillars of TRUST into practice help you breakthrough the wall of distrust. And trust is everything.
Mark Slatin helps organizations attract and retain loyal customers through trusting relationships. You can learn more at www.truecolorsconsulting.com.