Trust is a basic human need necessary for survival. Research shows that babies who fail to form a trusting relationship with a caregiver often fail to thrive. The same developmental need applies to creating new customers. If prospects don’t trust you, they may not do business with you. If employees don’t trust management, the business fails to thrive. If a head of state fails to trust another head of state, the relationship between nations will be in jeopardy. Trust is a key driver that determines the success of people, businesses, countries and civilization at large.
America is in a crisis of trust.
News about huge bonuses collected by executives running investment banks and brokerage houses on the verge of collapse, CEO’s flying in private jets while their companies are facing bankruptcy, and mortgage companies handing out loans to people without a steady source of income have decreased public trust. According to the Edelman Trust Survey, only 47% of Americans say that the country is headed in the right direction and only 30% rate the reputation of large multinational companies as good or excellent. A little good news: Among all industries, technology is the most trusted industry around the world.
Trust in the workplace
Trust in the workplace has eroded through pay cuts, reduced benefits, layoffs and bigger workloads distributed among those who were able to keep their jobs. It is time to get to work, conduct a trust audit in your company and if needed, get to work on restoring trust. According to a survey conducted by DDI International:
The top five ranked trust-building behaviors of managers were:
1. Communicates with me openly and honestly, without distorting any information.
2. Shows confidence in my abilities by treating me as a skilled, competent associate.
3. Keeps promises and commitments.
4. Listens to and values what I say, even though he or she might not agree.
5. Cooperates with me and looks for ways in which we can help each other.
A model for building trust in sales:
While most sales managers agree that developing trust is the key to creating new customers, very few companies create a model, or a process for building trust.
In 1999, Swan, Bowers and Richardson conducted a comprehensive study of the drivers of trust in the sales process. Trust drives the development of long-term relationships in personal sales processes and is the key to moving from a short-term, transaction-based toward a long-term, relationship-based interaction between buyer and seller. (Source: www.provenmodels.com)
Seven keys for creating trust in selling:
One: Keep your word. Never over-promise or under-deliver
Two: Never compromise with Integrity. Warren Buffett once offered his definition of DNA. He said it stands for “do numbers accurately.” Remember that customers don’t judge you by what you say when you are visiting face-to-face; they judge you by what you do when nobody is watching.
Three: When you make a mistake, take immediate action, take full responsibility and apologize without hesitation or reservation. Prospects forgive mistakes; they don’t forgive those who hide their mistakes. There is an old saying in Washington: “You don’t get into trouble for a mistake; you get in trouble for the cover-up.”
Four: Be fair, communicate clearly, don’t play favorites and practice transparency.
Five: When you make a persuasive claim, offer proof before prospects ask to see the evidence of your claim.
Six: Competence builds trust. Prospects expect salespeople to be professional, pleasant and value driven. A salesperson’s competence leads to buyer trust and confidence.
Seven: Be willing to put yourself in a position of vulnerability. For example, when a prospect asks you to do your homework and prepare a proposal that spells out in full detail how your product or service will create value; you have to be willing to perform that task without any promise or guarantee of getting a reward (the sale) for your work. If you are unwilling to accept the risk of working for nothing, then you will never reap the reward of becoming a trusted adviser who earns the customer’s loyalty with every sale.
Let’s restore trust – one sale at a time
Over 200 years ago, Thomas Paine wrote “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it the superficial appearance of being right.” We created the crisis of trust; let’s drop superficial appearances and restore trust – one customer at a time and one sale at a time.
What’s your take? What will you do to help restore trust in American business?
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