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July 26, 2020
How trustworthy are you and your company?
In this week’s issue…
The most overused word of recent months may be empathy – at least among those who advise sellers and marketers.
We may soon see a post on LinkedIn with the title “Top 10 Hacks for Faking Empathy.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with empathy. It’s among the more important traits for building relationships and establishing trust.
That’s the point of today’s Driven: Empathy is not an end in itself. Trust is the goal.
So today’s article is about how to build trust.
Your estimated reading time for this issue is less than 5 minutes, assuming you read at 200 words per minute.
Future issues of Driven won’t estimate your reading time. That’s because each issue will take less than 5 minutes to read.
SALES | MARKETING | SKILLS | LEADERSHIP
To win more big SaaS deals, build more trust. Here are 4 ways to do it.
In high-end software sales, your ability to compete and win deals often comes down to a single factor:
The trustworthiness of your people and your company.
It doesn’t matter what products or services you sell. Your product is intangible. In a sense, selling intangible products is like selling a pig in a poke.
Your prospects must believe you will help deliver the results they want.
You can learn to build trust. There’s a whole psychology and method to it.
If you don’t understand how to build and lose trust, it can cost your company dearly in lost sales.
The article is for CEOs and leaders and individual contributors in Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success.
But anyone can use trust-building skills in all facets of your life, not just sales and marketing.
When you finish reading this, you’ll understand the 4 foundations of trustworthiness. You’ll have 4 ideas to improve yours.
And you’ll have 7 resources to explore this big, important topic.
Why trust is so important
When your prospects weigh a decision to buy high-end software, they seek to answer 2 key questions:
- Which vendor is most likely to help us achieve the business outcomes we want?
- Which vendor can help us do so at a risk level we can accept?
Buyers, of course, ask many more questions along their path toward choosing a vendor.
But all those questions help them answer the 2 big ones.
How not to gain trust
You won’t earn trust by telling someone to trust you. Or by saying you want to be a trusted advisor.
That’s like claiming you’re sincere, empathetic, a thought leader, or a “very stable genius.”
Saying it doesn’t make it so. You must prove it by your behavior.
What’s your trustworthiness quotient?
Here’s a simple but profound equation for measuring trust.
The inventors of the equation call it the Trustworthiness Quotient:
The equation suggests that you can increase your trustworthiness by strengthening your credibility, reliability, and intimacy.
You can also increase trust by reducing your self-orientation.
Let’s look at each element.
Credibility: What you know and how you communicate it
You build your credibility through what you say and how you say it.
You can boost it in 3 ways:
- Become an expert.
- Stay current. Follow industry trends and business news.
- Have a point of view and share it.
You can also increase credibility in 3 more ways that are less obvious:
- Be willing to say “I don’t know,” when it’s the honest answer.
- Express your passion for your subject.
- Communicate with self-assurance: Greet people with a firm handshake, make direct eye contact (when culturally appropriate), and present a confident (not arrogant) air.
Reliability: No surprises
You show reliability through your actions.
You behave consistently and predictability.
People feel they’re familiar with you. They get what they expect.
Here are 5 simple ways to boost your reliability:
- State expectations up front. Report on them regularly.
- Make small promises. Always follow through on them.
- Be on time (by the standards of your prospect’s culture).
- If you fall behind in your commitments, say so early. Take responsibility.
- Use the language of your prospects and customers. Use their templates. Follow their dress codes. Respect their norms. Adapt to their environment.
Intimacy: A feeling of safety
In these days of the #metoo movement, the word intimacy causes great discomfort.
But in this case, its meaning is the opposite of exploitation.
It refers to the safety you feel when you entrust someone with something.
Here are 4 ways to grow intimacy in a relationship, without being inappropriate:
- Listen beyond the words of people you communicate with. Tune into their tone, emotion, and mood. Tell them the unspoken meaning you take from the way they speak or act.
- Tell someone what you really appreciate about them. Don’t keep it to yourself. (Be careful not to say anything that could be taken as sexual or sexist.)
- Use a person’s name often, and pronounce it correctly.
- Share something personal about yourself, without overdoing it. This makes you more human and interesting.
Self-orientation: How much you focus on yourself versus others
You want a low score in self orientation.
You get a high score if you care mostly about yourself and the benefits you will get from an interaction or a relationship.
You may unwittingly raise your self orientation score by…
- Rushing to a solution
- Hoarding information, resources, and ideas
- Talking a lot
- Subtly competing for attention and recognition
Here are 7 ways to reduce your self orientation:
- Slow down. Find the right solution.
- Share time, resources, and ideas.
- Be curious. Ask questions. Understand what success looks like for your prospect.
- Negotiate for mutual benefit.
- Listen better, and show that you’re listening by summarizing what you’ve heard.
- Speak hard truths tactfully, even when it’s uncomfortable.
- Give your prospect or customer the credit for successes.
Why individuals are more (or less) trustworthy than companies
Companies can be reliable, but they can’t be trustworthy in the full sense of the word.
You may say you trust a company. But you’d be talking mostly about dependability.
You wouldn’t say a company…
- Has your best interests at heart.
- Is sensitive to your needs.
- Acts with discretion.
Those are all traits of individuals, not companies.
So for companies, it’s important to coach individual employees to be trustworthy.
Each employee either builds the trustworthiness of your company or undermines it.
The 2 most common errors in building trust are:
- Inadequate listening
- Jumping too quickly to asking for commitment.
It’s relatively straightforward to increase credibility and reliability, though it’s not necessarily easy.
For most of us, improvements in intimacy and self-orientation offer the biggest opportunities to increase our trustworthiness.
Listening is the most powerful element in creating trust. It’s also the least practiced.
Few of us would read a book or take a course about listening skills. But it may be the most valuable training we can get.
So start by learning and practicing listening skills.
People call listening a soft skill. But it’s hard to learn, and it delivers hard – meaning, quantifiable – benefits in every facet of life.
The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook: A Comprehensive Toolkit for Leading with Trust. Charles H. Green. Andrea P. Howe. 2012. 288 pages in print. Available in paper, Kindle, and audiobook editions.
The Trusted Advisor. David H. Maiser. Charles H. Green. Robert M. Galford. 2000. 240 pages in print. Available in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook editions.
Trust-Based Selling. Charles H. Green. 2005. 288 pages in print. Paperback and Kindle editions.
The Speed of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything. Steven M.R. Covey. 2008. 354 pages in print. Available in hardcover, paperback, audiobook, and CD editions.
Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play: Transforming the Buyer-Seller Relationship. Mahan Khalsa. 2008. 288 pages in print. Available in hardcover and Kindle editions.
Trust Tip Videos. Charles H. Greene. Short, animated online videos on The Trusted Advisor website.
Trust Matters, the Podcast. Charles H. Greene, host.
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Archive of past issues
For links to online versions of prior Driven issues from 2020, please see the archive here.
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