Building Trust

Trust is elusive, and it is one of most critical components of why people buy. Buyers must trust that what they are buying provides the expected value. However, trust plays a different role based on what the buyer is purchasing and how that purchase provides value. For example, when it comes to purchasing simple commodities value is often tangible and easy to measure. If I go to a grocery store to buy an apple I trust that it is going to be free of worms. If I find worms, outside the emotional distress how have I really been impacted? The cost of the apple is nominal, and I can just show the store the worms and get a refund. Sure, its possible that the store may deny responsibility, but now I know I need to take my business elsewhere and all I’m out is 79 cents.

But most business to business selling is obviously not that simple. The ROI of many products and services are not immediate and can be very difficult to measure objectively. It is simply impossible for the buyer to really know the return of what they are buying. To make matters even more complex, larger purchases require a long term relationship with the buyer. It’s not as simple as just going to another grocery store. The inability to immediately understand the return and the difficulty of deconstructing large purchases elevates the role of trust in the buying decision.

It’s the sales person job to make the leap of faith palatable to the buyer by building a trusting relationship. While each sales person must develop their own approach to be credible, I came across an interesting article that outlined three critical elements to building trust. The entire article can be found here but the three focus areas that are highlighted are candor, competence and concern.

Candor: Clients value honesty when dealing with a service provider. They want the person to be straight forward about what will and what won’t work about their solution as it relates to their problem. They respect and appreciate your candor so if you don’t know the answer and let your client know that in fact “you don’t know” creates a foundation for a solid business relationship.

Competence: Clients want and need to believe that you know exactly what you are doing. They need to feel there is a low level of risk involved in working with you. Remember, because they cannot see and touch your service, your ability to solve their problem becomes the focal point for your client relationship. Your competence truly represents the product in the client’s mind.

Concern: From a client’s perspective, the most important element of trust is concern. Clients want to know you not only understand their problems but you have the ability to empathize with them and feel their pain. They want to know you are concerned about them and the business issues that go beyond the typical sales rhetoric it takes to land a new client.

This is one man’s perspective, but I do find his points compelling. Sales managers can help sales people develop an effective style that meet the tenets he listed above. Do you agree with the tenets listed above if so, what are you doing to ensure your sales team is effective at building trust?