Would you buy something from someone whom you don’t trust? Most people won’t. Studies have shown that lack of trust may disable a sale more quickly than any other factor.

So, what is trust? I define it as the feeling you get from someone that what they say equals what they do. Sometimes we trust people right away. It may be the way they look or what they say—in these rare cases we are comfortable with the other party from the start. We just kind of sense that they are trustworthy. Sometimes we are right and sometimes we are wrong.

With almost everyone else, we choose to verify someone’s trustworthiness by watching what they say and do. Instinctively, we track their promises and monitor how they perform to these commitments. We keep score. If someone follows through on their commitments, they can earn our trust. If someone breaks a commitment or tries to cover up the broken commitment, we learn not to trust that person. It is really rather simple.

This makes it hard for new sales people to crack an account because trust is earned by experience and by sensing. It may take a while to earn a buyer’s trust and get a shot at the business opportunity. How do you demonstrate trustworthiness?

Here are few suggestions:
1. Always deliver on your promises. Do exactly as you said would. And, if you can, under promise and over deliver.
2. Don’t stretch or try to make things fit. If you do make a commitment which challenges you or your offering’s capabilities, let the customer know that there is risk that you won’t deliver. Be truthful.
3. Demonstrate your commitment to the relationship and show how reliable you are by repeatedly delivering on your promises. Repeat as necessary.
4. Choose your words carefully. Say “frankly” rather than “to tell the truth” or “honestly” since the later two phrases sound as if you normally don’t tell the truth.
5. Use lots of eye contact. While it is true that liars have good eye contact, most people prefer doing business with someone who can look them in the eye.
6. Speak slowly. Many people are suspicious of fast talkers.
7. Listen and repeat what the customer says. Say something like, “So, let me make sure that I understand. What is important to you is that I …..”
8. If you miss a commitment, tell the customer immediately. Don’t wait to get caught or try to cover it up. A trustworthy person will tell the truth. After coming clean about the missed commitment, make a new commitment and be sure to exceed expectations.

Trust is earned over time but can be easily lost— so do as you say. Mark Twain said, “Always tell the truth and you won’t have to remember anything”. If you do as Mark Twain suggests and if you deliver on your promises, trust will be earned.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2008 All rights reserved.

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