Trust is the key for building successful sales relationships; it is also the driving factor for success in business and personal relationships. The absence of trust is a one-way ticket to failure. People in general, and customers in particular, are more suspicious than ever about claims companies and salespeople make. Companies must create trust to gain and maintain a competitive advantage, build their brand and become the employer of choice. Those of us in the sales and marketing profession must do the same to become the supplier or partner of choice and to be viewed as a trusted advisor by our customers.
Bold proclamations and hyped–up statements regarding products and services along with unsubstantiated claims and promises abound everywhere. In the midst of all this confusion, how do we differentiate ourselves in a genuine, credible and trustworthy manner? Start by clearly defining what it is you stand for and promise to deliver. Trust is created when you tell your customers what they can, and should expect when dealing with you. Things such as core values, guiding principles and promises your branding messages communicate all govern and influence actions and behaviours and lead to a consistent customer experience that will build trust.
If you are serious about building trust, make it personal. Go beyond your company’s promises or slogans and define what your customers can expect from you as a sales and marketing professional.
This is the key point of differentiation for those that achieve top tier status in our profession. Ultimately trust is earned based on actions and behaviours not on words or empty promises. This truth is captured in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you say”. Do your actions reinforce your words and claims?
Consider the impact of trust – improved speed of doing business; increased creativity and innovation in the solutions and services provided; absence of suspicion or doubt; reduced claims or rework due to misunderstandings; increased profitability because of improved efficiency and clarity. Probably the most important outcome of all is the increased perceived value of you, your services and products because you and your customer are operating in the zone of truth and trust.
The six core drivers that lead to building strong trust based relationships are:
- Self Trust – Do you trust yourself? Before you can lay claim of being a sales person or marketer that can be trusted to provide high value solutions, you must be able to define the attributes which make you trust worthy. Here is a list for you to consider and reflect upon. Are you responsible, accountable, credible, trustworthy, reputable and authentic in all your dealings?
- Dependability – This attribute is critical to become trusted and sought out as the provider of choice. Too many sales and marketers promise the moon and deliver nothing more than moon dust. Dependability is forged by doing the following – making your word your bond, following through, demonstrating loyalty, being reliable and keeping your promises and not wavering even in challenging or difficult situations.
- Competence – The professional marketer and seller must deliver solid results and outcomes to demonstrate their competence and skill. Customer’s trust and support of us increases when we deliver on, or exceed their expectations. Our competence and ability is evidenced by our education and certifications, experience, skill, thoroughness, diligence and attention to detail. Education and knowledge upgrades are essential for professional marketers and sellers. SMEI offers a variety of resources such as chapter events, online programs, and certification which are all valuable resources to increase competence and remain current on best practices of our profession.
- Ethics – Perhaps nothing says more about your trustworthiness than your ethics. Making decisions and taking action that is right versus expedient is essential if you are committed to being a marketing and sales professional. Ethics and standards are not a do-it yourself job. If you are not certain regarding the ethical standards for our profession visit the SMEI web site and review the 11 points in the Marketing Creed as a starting point. Factors relating to ethics are confidentiality, discretion, diplomacy, respect, integrity and professional certifications that define the code or standards by which we operate.
- Customer Centric – It’s not about you. As the sales legend Zig Ziglar said “You can have anything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”. Customer focus and allegiance, commitment, selflessness (without being taken advantage of) and dedication are the foundation for long term success in sales and marketing. Commit to provide value in every customer encounter whether in person, via email or when using social media; make everything you do count to become more valuable to your customers.
- Likeability – Being a person that is genuinely liked and valued by customers is one of the key factors for success in selling. This does not mean playing up to your customers in a patronizing or disingenuous manner. I am referring to a genuine likeability because of your professionalism, manners, positive attitude, courtesy and a sincere desire to assist without immediate reward or recognition. The ultimate goal is one of long term results and success.
Trust – it’s ultimately all dependent on you! It is essential that you consider the various ways of enhancing and building your personal brand to the point where you are viewed as a strategic partner or trusted advisor in the eyes of your customers. Apply the six core drivers to become more successful and develop trust based relationships and grow your career as a professional marketer or sales person.
ABOUT RALPH KISON
Ralph Kison, President of Growth Through Learning, Professional Development Specialists
Ralph assists organizations committed to employee development in the areas of: Training and Development, Management Coaching, Talent Management and online learning. He brings passion, innovation and experience to each project. He leads and directs organizations and their employees to achieve their full potential by acquiring skills and applying proven business development processes and techniques. Ralph’s career spans over 25 years in sales, management and consulting with experience in the engineering, architectural, construction, distribution and insurance industries. An accomplished speaker, Ralph has addressed numerous organizations and groups across North America.
Ralph is a graduate of the University of British Columbia Marketing and Sales Management Program and a certified CME and CSE. He has taught professional sales courses at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) and for SMEI Vancouver. Ralph is a member and past President of Sales and Marketing Executives International of Vancouver (SMEI) and is a member and past President of the Canadian Society for Marketing Professional Services of Vancouver (CSMPS).