Have you ever experienced doubt that prompted you to pull away from a deal, which looked right but felt wrong? Perhaps you had decided on a major purchase: done your research and found a vendor who had what you needed at a price you thought was fair, so it all looked good. The salesperson was eager to close the deal, but something did not feel quite right… they say trust changes everything. So, you went elsewhere to purchase the same product or service.
What happened? Often the issue is trust, or rather, a failure of trust in the client/salesperson relationship. We prefer to buy from someone we know, like, and trust.
Trust is a simple value, usually learned in childhood, but in the sales relationship it is important and complex. As sales professionals, we must understand the varied aspects of trust in order to foster a relationship with our clients that enables us to provide them with the solutions they seek.
Six Types of Trust
From the client’s perspective, six interrelated dimensions of trust are at play in most sales transactions:[i]
- Do I trust the salesperson’s integrity? Do I perceive this salesperson as honest and truthful, then do they put my interests over their own interests?
- Do I trust the salesperson’s credibility? Do I experience confidence in their knowledge, skills and experience with the product or service in question?
- Do I trust the salesperson’s knowledge and understanding of my needs? Do I feel my unique needs have been sufficiently investigated, then am I confident that the solutions offered align with my needs?
- Do I trust the company’s ability to deliver what the salesperson promised? Am I confident in its reputation and track record, because my past experience with this or similar companies matters.
- Do I trust the product or service’s ability to deliver? Do I believe that what is being offered will do the job I need and expect?
- Do I trust my own ability to utilize the product or service to its full potential? Is it simple or complex to use, then will there be adequate customer support to enable me to use the product or service to its full capacity?
Sales professionals who understand the complexity of trust know it is the simple element that engages clients as partners in the sales process. They know that in sales, “trust is the one thing that changes everything.”[ii]
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[ii] Steven M.R Covey, The Speed of Trust, Free Press, 2006, p1.