How to build trust in relationship selling

All successful relationships require trust

Good salespeople build relationships because organizational success depends on it. If trust is something “they” do, you are the problem.

Research shows three important consequences related to trust and performance.

  1. Overall business performance for organizations is higher when salespeople trust their managers.1 
  2. Individual sales performance is better among salespeople who engender high trust.2 
  3. Employee retention is higher in organizations with high manager-employee trust because the quality of life in the workplace is better.3

How do sales managers and salespeople build strong, resilient relationships?

You learn to behave

Stephen M.R. Covey, says, “Relationship trust is all about behavior … consistent behavior.” (From: “The Speed of Trust.” Today, seven years after publishing, it’s still #2 in Business-Life, Ethics, on Amazon.)

Covey explains 13 behaviors common to high-trust individuals:

  1. Talk straight. Let people know where you stand. Use simple language.
  2. Demonstrate respect. Genuinely care and show it.
  3. Create transparency. Tell the truth in a way that can be verified. Err on the side of disclosure.
  4. Right Wrongs. Apologize quickly. Make restitution where possible.
  5. Show loyalty. Give credit freely. Speak about people as if they were present.
  6. Deliver results. Don’t overpromise and underdeliver. Don’t make excuses.
  7. Get better. Thank feedback and act on it.
  8. Confront reality. Take issues head on, even the “undiscussibles.”
  9. Clarify expectations. Disclose, reveal, discuss, validate, renegotiate if needed, don’t violate, expectations.
  10. Practice accountability. Take responsibility for results. Be clear on how you’ll communicate.
  11. Listen first. Don’t assume you know what matters most to others.
  12. Keep commitments. Make commitments carefully. Don’t break confidences.
  13. Extend trust. Extend trust abundantly to those who have earned it. Extend trust conditionally to those who are earning it.

Do you want to move up?

Axel Köster, General Manager for the Manhattan Group, recruits executives and managers for premium properties such as the Peninsula, Regent, Hilton and others around the world.

“No matter what the industry,” Axel shares “at the top level of any successful organization you must have someone you can truly trust. If you want to move up in your organization, the most important thing you can do is build a reputation for trustworthiness.”

The bottom line is success in relationships and relationship selling depends on your trustworthiness. And so does the trajectory of your career.

Getting started

How do we improve trust? By being intentional about it. Make a copy of Covey’s 13 behaviors. Put it in front of you at work. Find a peer who wants to do the same thing. Keep each other accountable. Practice being happy.

Bill Yates, Senior Associate & Partner at the Sports Advisory Group, adds, “Provide solutions to their problems and you’ll be rewarded with trust.”

Continue building trust with colleagues and clients and whether you move up the career ladder or not, at least you’ll be one of the happy ones.

 


Sources

  1. “Making things happen through challenging goals: Leader proactivity, trust, and business-unit performance,” Crosley, Cooper & Wernsing (2013), Journal of Applied Psychology.
  2. “The interrelationships of empathy, trust, and conflict and their impact on sales performance,” Plank & Reid (2010), Journal of Marketing Management.
  3. “Trust your teammates or bosses? Differential effects of trust on transactive memory, job satisfaction, and performance.” Gockel, Robertson & Brauner (2013), Employee Relations.
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