Shocked and disoriented is probably the best way to describe how companies and salespeople are feeling lately. Virtually everyone is husbanding cash. Nobody wants to be “sold” anything. People still want to buy, but only when and what they want, not what someone else wants them to buy. And they don’t really need salespeople; they can find what they need to know on the internet. Sometimes, the customers know more than the sales person. Now what?
Back to basics. What is sales? After I spent years in sales, sales management and sales training, and after I spent a great deal of time wading through all the details and complexities of relationships, I have boiled things down to a simple definition of sales. Sales is the transfer of trust.
No Trust, No Sale
People will not do business with folks they don’t trust. And today, anyone who is selling something is definitely not to be trusted. On the other hand, someone who I sense is authentically interested in my well being, helping me to solve a problem and/or helping my company save cash has my interest. The operating word here is “authentically.” It can’t be the usual scripted “I love you and you will do better if you buy my service.” Trust is: I get that you authentically have my best interest at heart, not just your own. When I sense that I can trust you, then I will shift my own position to wanting to also make sure your interests are served in the relationship. It’s that simple and that complex.
Do you remember the old trick of putting a mirror at your phone so that you see yourself and remember to smile? That seemingly silly trick actually works for most people. It works because when you smile it “comes through” in your voice. The person on the other end can “hear” our smile. The same is true when we are face-to-face and I evaluate whether or not you are authentically there to help me. It is difficult to be a polished enough actor that you can convince me you care, when in fact you don’t. Once I detect that your motives are directed toward your own goals, yet you say you are there to help me, then that incongruity will lead me to assume you are manipulative. No trust there!
I admit that I am not a good actor. So the only thing that works for me is to be authentically interested in helping the folks I mentor and coach. Especially now, if my motivation is self-serving, I will not have the opportunity to serve my customer even if I have an incredibly useful product or service to offer.
So sales is the transfer of trust. The way to build trust among humans is to be genuinely interested in the other person, to commit to do something for the other person and then to make sure you follow through and do it. Today, “sell” is a four letter word. We have to make sure we are authentically concerned about helping our clients and customers. We must truly have their best interest at heart, not just our own.