The best sales reps build trust. They understand the importance of building trust with their buyers because the sooner a prospective buyer trusts you, the sooner they’ll be ready to take your advice. It’s all a part of demonstrating that you want to help your buyer succeed and that you have the expertise they need. The end game does not always involve a sale, but it does always involve being accepted as a partner and trusted advisor.
It stands to reason, then, that, other things being equal, the consultative seller who can build trust faster will have an edge over their competition.
The Shortcut to Building Trust in Sales
According to the experts, the secret to building trust is to show vulnerability. This may be surprising. Most successful salespeople are more concerned with establishing their credibility. The last thing they would think of doing is exposing a weakness or appearing clumsy. But the best sales reps build trust. Consider the results of a study run in the 1960s by Elliot Aronson at the University of Texas in Austin.
The Study on Trust
Aronson created a scenario whereby four college students were interviewing for a spot on the prestigious College Quiz Bowl Team. There were two eminently and equally qualified candidates; both answered almost all the questions correctly and had earned athletic and academic honors as well as serving as editor of the yearbook. But there was one clear difference. One of the so-called top candidates spilled coffee all over his new suit.
The result was that most votes went to the candidate who had spilled the coffee. Psychologists explain that it is easier to like (or trust) the more vulnerable high-performer because they were more approachable and more likeable.
However, it is not vulnerability alone that engenders trust. It is critical that you establish your credentials first. Then an honest weakness or blunder can work to your advantage in building trust more quickly. But whatever way you exhibit vulnerability, it cannot undermine or compromise your credibility in the domain of your expertise. A telling example is this: a psychiatrist might build trust by clumsiness with a cup of coffee explaining that they’ve never been very good with their hands; but a surgeon can’t.
The Bottom Line
Of course, trust can be built bit by bit over time as you prove yourself to be dependable and authentically competent and caring. But if time is of the essence, you can try showing your vulnerable side as long as you have first demonstrated your credibility and intent to help your client succeed.
To learn more about how to better sell solutions, download 30 Effective Sales Questions More Important than Budget