I recently listened to a compelling podcast with two of my favorite business and personal development gurus, Brené Brown, author of “Dare to Lead,” and Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great.”
In the podcast, Collins shares a life lesson from his mentor, Bill Lazier: Make the trust wager. “Is your opening bid to trust or does somebody have to earn your trust?” Lead with trust, Lazier suggests, and people rise to your expectation.
Unfortunately for sales professionals, many buyers don’t make the trust wager when it comes to sellers. They assume sellers are untrustworthy. And many sellers make common, and predictable, mistakes that confirm this view.
Fortunately, these mistakes are all behaviors within your salespeople’s control.
One of the quickest trust killers is one of the easiest to avoid. To trust a sales rep, a buyer needs to be able to depend on them. So, don’t let them down. Salespeople must keep the promises they make. They need to call or show up when they say they will. Complete action items on time. Prepare well for meetings. Being reliable is not hard but you’d be surprised how often it’s missed.
Not Knowing Your Stuff
If a salesperson is ever in a situation where the customer corrects them about their own product, it undermines credibility, which also kills trust.
Salespeople must earn trust, in part, by being a subject matter expert able to answer the buyer’s questions about the industry, competition, customers and more, as well as sharing an opinion or point of view. On the flip side, salespeople also earn trust by admitting when they don’t know the answer to a specific question and commit to get it. Sales reps who do their homework and know their stuff will seee trust levels rise.
Trying Too Hard
Trust is a relationship, and, as such, it is a two-way street. If one party is pushy and overbearing, dominates the conversation, and is always the one who decides what you do together, the relationship doesn’t usually last long.
Sellers do this all the time, pressured by a quota or deadline, forcing the pace toward a sale. Make sure your salespeople check in with the buyer – confirm they’re comfortable with the pace of progress and agendas meet their expectations. It’s important to invite buyers’ input and give them space to own the process.
Failing to Listen
Buyers who feel their questions, concerns, and issues have not been heard find it hard to trust. And yet buyers report that only 26% of sellers are effective listeners.
Helping buyers feel valued, listened to, and respected is essential. Salespeople should always ask whether they have successfully addressed the buyers’ concerns. Pose follow-up questions. Summarize and repeat the buyer’s position back to them to ensure they have understood. Demonstrate active listening skills and buyers will trust that you “get it.”
Being liked is an integral part of being trusted. But pretending to be someone you’re not in order to be liked kills trust. It can be hard to be the real you, admit to flaws, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities. But the more authentic a salesperson can be, the more trust they will generate.
Some sellers prefer to talk to customers about safe, neutral topics like the weather. A salesperson who doesn’t connect on a personal level will have difficulty building trust. Connecting can be as easy as asking a rapport-building question, such as, “How was your weekend?” and sharing a response.
Making Unrealistic Claims.
Trust might feel like something that is formed with the heart, but don’t forget to take the head along for the ride. For example, when making the business case, reps should use reasonable assumptions to demonstrate the return on investment (ROI). Too often, sellers use generic ROI calculators or throw around “often achieved” ROI numbers that are simply unbelievable.
In fact, only 16% of buyers say sellers are effective at “making the ROI case clear.” If a salesperson doesn’t provide credible projections, a buyer will question everything else about them. What else can’t they substantiate?
As Brené Brown has said, “Trust is built in very small moments.” You might not even notice it growing.
It’s just as easy to miss the moments when trust is damaged. But, if your salespeople avoid these seven trust killers, they will put themselves in a position to build trust with their buyers moment-by-moment instead of killing it.