A warning to any business owner or manager looking to jump onto the trust-based selling bandwagon… trust is not the measure of sales success – surely the measure of sales success has always been and will always be sales results… more new, repeat and referral sales.
In the mid nineteen nineties, I was working for the Morgan & Banks group, one of Australia’s largest recruitment and consulting firms. I was selling a training program on selling to the corporate world. It was called Integrity Selling, and was created by Ron Willingham. At the centre of the Integrity Selling philosophy, was what Ron referred to as needs-based selling, which focused the salesperson on the real needs and wants of clients, and discovering ways to be able to meet and fulfil those needs through selling their products and services.
I am still very proud of the value we created for many companies through delivering the Integrity Selling program, and it was that experience that led me to more formal academic research and study on what selling really was all about.
I completed a Master degree in Professional Ethics back in 2001, and my thesis was on The Ethics of Selling. What I had researched was how to align a sales process with the psychology of buying. In other words, how do you ‘sell’ to people in a way that creates the right kind of environment where people feel comfortable and confident to buy… where they don’t feel pressured or coerced into making a buying decision.
Relationship selling has been around for decades now. Integrity Selling was just one of a range of relationship based sales approaches. The reality is, relationship selling has probably been around for centuries, because at the very heart of relationship based selling is of course, the relationship… and at the heart of every relationship is trust.
So why does it seem there’s a growing number of sales gurus jumping on the ‘trust-based selling’ bandwagon? I believe it is just another example of this world-wide tipping point that we’re experiencing with trust.
The internet has provided people with immediate access to information about almost every possible product or service they might want to buy. With so much information and so much choice on offer, this can create confusion… and where there’s confusion, there’s the real possibility of disengaged trust… this puts trust at risk, and when trust is at risk, everything is at risk.
I will say however, that as best as I can tell from my research into these trust-based selling approaches, there’s nothing really new. Sure we all put our own ‘spin’ on whatever it is that we do, but to think and claim that building trust in any business relationship is new in some way I think is flawed.
That’s not to say that putting trust as a key component in any business relationship and transaction isn’t important… of course it is. However, trusting someone doesn’t mean you will necessarily buy from them.