The best salespeople uniformly agree that the job of a salesperson is NOT to sell a product or a service, it is to establish trust with buyers.
For the general population, building trust over a conversation or two is relatively easy to do. However, sales professionals have quite a severe trust deficit to overcome even before any conversations begin.
We’ve already covered why we think buyers don’t trust salespeople, now let’s address how to establish trust despite the difficulty.
Spoiler alert: It’s NOT more automation.
What is trust?
Trust is defined as “perceived credibility and benevolence.” In The Thin Book of Trust, author Charles Feltman presents Four Distinctions of Trust:
Sincerity - You are honest, you say what you mean and mean what you say; and that your actions will align with your words.
Reliability - You meet the commitments you make and you keep your promises.
Competence - You have the capacity, skill, knowledge, and resources to do a particular task or job.
Care - You have the other person’s interests in mind as well as your own when you make decisions and take actions.
Feltman asserts that if any one of these distinctions is missing, the foundation of trust weakens and if more than one of these is missing, there’s likely no chance to garner trust.
Not surprisingly, when researching the makings of a great salesperson, these are the top four traits that buyers are concerned with:
So, why is it so hard for salespeople to establish trust with new buyers?
Trusting someone means having confidence in their reasoning, their character, or their intentions. That confidence is built because that person exhibits their reasoning, character, and intentions over time.
More simply, consistent behavior over time builds trust.
The biggest challenge here for the salesperson is the “over time” bit. Establishing who you are and proving your intentions are genuine is practically impossible to do overnight. Add the fact that the interaction usually isn’t taking place face-to-face, and you have a recipe for ambiguity. A salesperson usually only has a few moments to make an impression, and most times it isn’t even via a face-to-face encounter. Therefore, establishing their trustworthiness and credibility becomes almost impossible.
But not completely impossible!
There are two ways a salesperson can give themselves a boost in the trust department.
Humans trust humans, not bots or automated cadences.
How to establish trust
1. You’ve got to actually give a s*&!
This isn’t mind-blowing or revolutionary in any way but one surefire way to establish trust is by actually giving a shit! Empathy and real human connections can’t be outsourced to microchips. Genuine concern for your buyer and their business can’t be faked.
In fact, of the four assessments from Feltman, care is in some ways the most important for building lasting trust in any relationship. When people believe you are only concerned with your self-interest and don’t consider their interests as well, they limit their trust of you to specific situations or transactions. On the other hand, when people believe you hold their interest in mind, they extend their trust more broadly to you.
Imagine you meet a shoe salesman who is only in it for himself. Doesn’t care if the shoe fits, or how your foot feels, just wants to know if you’re gonna buy or not. How would you treat him? Perhaps you’d limit your interaction to a transactional one?
Now, imagine that same shoe salesman that asks you, what your favorite kinds of shoes are, does the shoe fit, what do you want to do with the shoe, etc. Then collect this information & needs, and offers a few suggestions & recommendations. You’d probably be more inclined to give them some of your time. But how do you know what kind of salesperson you’re working with?
2. Word of mouth FTW!
The problem of identifying who to trust exists in other areas of our lives and the solution that has proven successful are third-party reviews. We see it with Yelp, Glassdoor, G2Crowd and the like. Think about it, the most powerful sales/marketing tool is word of mouth referrals … these sites are essentially providing a digital word of mouth for the brands or companies or people on them.
We all know how it works, if a restaurant owner says he has the best pizza in town you take it with a grain of salt, clearly he’s biased. However, if a bunch of customers say this guy’s got the best pizza in town you will be more inclined to trust his claim as it’s been validated and verified by the masses.
So, how can we bring the power of word of mouth referrals to B2B sales?
Our aim at Bravado is to highlight those sales professionals who truly are customer centric and experts in their fields. And we’ll do this by leveraging testimonials and referrals from their past clients, an unbiased third party that other buyers can trust.
Bravado is building the future of sales, one powered by warm intros and successful relationships. Bravado members are trusted salespeople buyers want to do business with as evident from their portfolios of testimonials from delighted customers.