Sunday, June 3, 2012


There is nothing that persuades so much as trust. We all get caught up in the idea of networking and talking to as many suitable prospects as possible, but trust can be a short cut. People will talk about you and it can be beneficial or harmful.  In a sense we are all selling something maybe in exchange for money or maybe to persuade another person to believe what we are saying.

Quite awhile back I read The Speed of Trust and it got me to thinking.  I was also conscious of Milton Friedman, a hard nosed economist who once said that the thing that would most boost business is more trust.

What is trust? It boils down to this: do people believe you will do what you say and are you telling the truth? Do you respect their interests and viewpoint? Will you do the right thing?  If trust is low there will be reluctance to buy from you or even to accept your word even if your offer is as good as you claim.

Obviously trust is not instantaneous and takes time to develop.  When we are seriously thinking of buying something a process of evaluating goes on.  Can we really afford it?  What will we have to give up to enjoy this new thing?  At bottom is the question, is this really as good as it seems?  Does the sales person have short term motives for what they are saying?

As a sales person on your first contact with a prospect it is difficult to develop real trust, but the process can start right away. If you can say something such as "I will only take two minutes of your time;" and stick to it that is a start. If at the end of your talk you say something like I will call you back in one week or I will call you back with the answer and actually do it you are a little further down the road when you are able to keep your promise.  Doing what you said you would do still surprises many people.  Experience has taught people to be very suspicious of your motives and your integrity.

To respect someone's viewpoint you have to understand it better. Making assumptions is dangerous. As someone makes a wrong assumption about you, it is natural to question if they really have your interests at heart.  If you really care what concerns other people you will naturally listen.  If you don't really care, but only want what you can get out of them it will be hard to hide.  Do yourself justice and actually listen to the concerns of those you hope to either do business with or relate to socially.  You will better understand what you need to understand before going forward.

You are on display all the time.  You might think nobody is watching, or at least nobody who counts is watching.  First you should never dismiss the value of anyone.  Second you need to be consistent. Third you are always there.  If you do not live what you believe there is an imbalance that others can detect.  One way to judge someone's character is to see how they treat people that can neither help nor hurt them.

The concept of networking is very popular.  All too many times it is assumed that exchanging business cards and letting others know what you sell is the basis of building business. The basis really is, are you trustworthy.  One really key element is do you really care about the other person.  What they are interested in may seem off beat to you, but you can learn something and sooner or later you will learn that your interests do intersect at some point.  One of the values of networking is not that the person you are talking will do business with you right away, but that at some point down the road they may remember you when a friend of theirs asks for advice.

A good way of looking at it might be who do you trust.  When a stranger phones you and tells you about a tremendous bargain with no risk, do you engage right away or maybe investigate or maybe hang up the phone?  When your neighbour of ten years tells you about a new restaurant do you perk up or do you forget about it?  When your closest friend since elementary grades tells you something unknown about anything of interest do you believe them?

As with most salespeople I cannot make a living just because I make one sale.  Repeats and referrals are the backbone of selling.  Of course there are people who make enough on one sale and move on quickly that they can make a living, but they constantly need to outrun their reputation.  Your trustworthy reputation will spread, perhaps more gradually than your quick deal competitor's. Eventually your trustworthy reputation will precede you and develop some momentum as long as you work to maintain it.

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