Selling on Trust

by | Aug 20, 2012 | Relationship Selling

Stephen Covey is known for his important and best-selling books starting with his 1st best seller “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. As most of you know Stephen passed away last month, but his legacy lives on in more ways than one. His son Stephen M.R. Covey has become a respected author too, releasing “The Speed of Trust” a few years ago. Because of the impact this book had on me, and the marketplace, I decided to launch my new role as The Sales Synthesizer with this book.

Every month you can expect key takeaways from highly regarded business books that impact the sales process. This month I’ll synthesize “The Speed of Trust” giving tips that you can use in your daily sales interactions.

The foundation of the book is Trust = Speed/Cost, which is a very powerful formula for improving your customer & prospect relationships, and it helps you understand how customers and prospects see you. As Rupert Murdoch quotes in the book, “The world is changing very fast. Big will not beat small anymore. It will be fast beating the slow”.

The formula implies that with more trust, execution speeds up in direct proportion to the cost going down. Speed, or at least the right kind of speed, reduces the sales cycle since trust is a major factor in the timeline for decision making.

Key Takeaways:

1 – Customers will view confidence as trust. The opposite is also true: a lack of trust leads to suspicion. Authentically showing your concern for the prospect and asking pertinent questions will display confidence which helps to build trust. Just think of past sales you’ve made and ask yourself – how much of a factor was trust? For most people trust is key to building a relationship which can lead to making the sale.

2 – When there is trust with a prospect or a customer you will see vast improvement with communication, execution, collaboration and partnering. And since all of these impacts the cost of the sale, your profits will naturally rise when they are improved. As professor John Whitney from the Columbia Business School says, “Mistrust doubles the cost of doing business”.

3 – The traditional business formula says Sales x Execution = Results. But there is a hidden variable to this formula which is the low trust tax or the high tax dividend. So the true formula is really (Sales x Execution) x Trust = Results. To drive this point home, consider United Airlines’ attempt to compete with Southwest Airlines in California. Southwest had over 50% of the market share and United decided they would deliver great customer service, turn their planes around in 20 minutes as Southwest did and fly just 737’s. It failed. Why? Because United’s best turnaround time was 35 minutes. They couldn’t execute. They didn’t have sufficient internal or external trust to make it happen. When you’re analyzing your strategy and execution with your customers, remember to look at trust as a leading indicator for your success or failure to achieve the desired results.

Look at your sales cycle – see where there are breakdowns or weaknesses. Discuss how trust or a lack of it may be the cause, and then adjust your processes to prioritize trust. You’ll build stronger and longer-term relationships, which can only lead to sales, referrals and repeat business.