The primary reason people buy from salespeople is obviously not about quality. I have seen quality products and services suffer low sales. Every buying decision triggers an emotional feeling of not being wrong eventually about choices we make.
As in ordinary life relationship, trust is very important to selling products or services. Trust helps sales reps overcome smoothly the issues potential buyers would normally raise about what they are buying. Customers trust sales reps personality, not the promise of benefits they are yet to experience at the point of buying. Salespeople who have not betrayed the trust their customers have in them, that is, still sustaining buyer’s expectation, are able to make repeat sales and get referrals.
However, the burden of building and sustaining trust rest on the sales reps and the organizations they are representing. The winning sellers know that trust needs to be built, nurtured and improved upon from time to time.
Let’s take a look at three major ingredients to building consumers’ trust; competence, integrity and intimacy.
If there is any barometer to measure consumers’ global patience level, the result won’t surprise many of us. No one really has the time to deal with a rookie, either as a sales rep or in business. You must be seen as an expert or someone highly knowledgeable on what you do to be trustworthy. As you know, it is essential for salespeople to know their stuff in and out to garner trust.
A few years back, I was privileged to be part of a team to resell an Identity Management Solution to one of the banks in Nigeria. Due to the financial muscle of our prospect and no room for error, my boss then opted to make the presentation. After the sales presentation, we were asked a question from one of the listed benefits of the Idm solutions we were selling. The Bank’s Group Head of IT asked what we meant by “non-repudiation “.
None of us could provide convincing explanation for the term. We truly did not know it. Why? The sales power point was sent to us from our partner abroad, and we assumed we could manage the situation plus every item on the list. We simply appeared lacking in deep knowledge of the solution we were selling.
The truth is, we had not gone through any training on the solution we were selling. We screwed up big time! How would they trust us with implementing the solution when we couldn’t explain a term they knew better than us?
Everyone has been sold products or services far below expectations before. We are left unconsciously suspicious all the time. Once bitten, twice shy slogan is well ingrained in our minds. So, it takes salespeople with track records of delivering on what they say they would do to make meaningful sales. Trustworthiness comes with a high level of integrity. Even when we are convinced about our offerings, we still need to prove beyond reasonable doubt to earn consumers trust enough to close deals.
Do people build trust with strangers? Depending on your line of business, connections with customers on a personal level may be inevitable. Sales guys sometimes need to know how to press hot but not too evasive buttons to win-over skeptical clients.
While we are often told to erect distinctive wall between business and personal relationships, it’s equally wise to know when to subtly cross over the fence to garner trust.
The saying that business relationships are built on trust is still true in today’s business environment. Even in the trade by barter era, when commodities exchange for commodities, trust played a major role. If your customers eventually discovered that you sold them lies; you will lose business relationship with them forever. If they decide to use word of mouth to share the experience with you with their friends, family and enemies; be ready for a serious battle of reputation management.