4 Proven Steps to Building and Keeping More Sales

Trust is likely the most important element in the development of a learning community (Dr. Kevin

People do business with those they “Know, like, and trust.”


Well, the ‘knowing and liking’ parts are pretty well straightforward. Most of our social activities are centered on meeting others and making that all-important first impression – then building on the relationship to identify common interests and develop friendship.

What about trust, though? Top-performing salespeople know that what happens AFTER an agreement is reached is every bit as important as the work preceding it.

Low-performing salespeople (usually inadvertently, rather than intentionally) think the ‘job’ ends when the sale is made and the commission earned.

Let’s take a look at the rudiments of trust from a research-based vantage point. If you can learn better ways to build trust, you’ll not only be in a better position to grow your business — but you’ll enjoy the process much more along the way.

[clickToTweet tweet=”What happens AFTER an agreement is reached is every bit as important as the work preceding it.” quote=”What happens AFTER an agreement is reached is every bit as important as the work preceding it.”]

Getting down to the nitty gritty of sales

Dr. Devin Vodicka prepared a paper for the Principal Leadership journal aimed at helping schools establish higher levels of trust between all stakeholders. Vodicka knew that trust and achievement go hand in hand. He wanted to know whether it was possible to grow the second by focusing on the first.

In true academic form, Vodicka read the best studies he could find on the topic of trust and pulled from them to develop his conclusions.

The resultant paper – The Four Elements of Trust – presents a distilled look at how trust is built. The work is not only valuable to school administrators, but to you and me – IF we will listen to Vodicka’s conclusions and apply them to the sales process.

The 4 elements of trust

Here we go, then: Vodicka’s elements and my brief comments on each:

  1. Consistency: This element isn’t only about reliability and availability. And it’s not only important for one-one-one communications. It is important to deliver a consistent message to ALL stakeholders. If your business is customer-centric (and it should be), then you can’t speak to prospects one way and to your fulfillment department another. With my private clients (and when I speak to groups), I often talk about the importance of congruency in conversations and messaging. Lack of consistency is perhaps one of the fastest ways to break trust – it sends ‘mixed messages.’ NOTE: Many times, consistency is seen as the ‘be all and end all’ for building trust – but it is not. It’s just one of the four primary building blocks. Here’s something else: You must build trust with yourself as well. By being consistent across all relationship levels, your own belief in the message you carry will be solidified. After all, if you don’t have faith in the promises you make – no one else will either.
  2. Compassion: Prospects must sense that you truly care about them before they can believe you will look out for their best interests. Compassion is shown when you express an interest in another person’s struggles and concerns. Compassion is shown when you can identify with those struggles and acknowledge them – even when you DON’T have an immediate solution. Compassion sees prospects as people – not as dollar signs – and engages them on a personal, caring level.
  3. Communication: Citing The Eighth Habit (Dr. Stephen Covey), Vodicka points out that “Loyalty to the absent, clear expectations, necessary apologies, and legitimate feedback are activities that promote trust.” It is important to remember that we trust certain people with certain things. For example, you trust your dry-cleaner to properly clean and press your garments — but your cleaner may not be the best person to advise you on financial investments. SPECIAL: It is crucial to never overpromise. From the beginning, your customers or clients should know exactly what you can do for them AND what you cannot do. Sales built on unreasonable expectations will eventually fall flat. The result will be ill will, not goodwill, and you will have done more to damage the reputation of your company or brand than to promote it.
  4. Competence: It is one thing to sound and appear capable – but quite another to deliver the goods. That is why the most successful salespeople are constantly seeking to learn more about the principles of sales and about the products or services they promote. Determine exactly what you can do – and do that. If the prospect needs something you can’t deliver, acknowledge that. Fight the temptation to promise the moon (unless you can actually provide it). No person, product, or service is exactly what everyone needs in every situation. Know your limitations and acknowledge them. Otherwise, any trust you do build will eventually be demolished.

[clickToTweet tweet=”You may be known & liked. If you fail to build & maintain trust, though, none of that matters.” quote=”You may be known and liked… if you fail to build and maintain trust, though, none of that will matter.”]

Here is an example I came across recently. No doubt, you can provide plenty of your own. Please do so in the comments at the end of this article. Let’s learn more… together.

Example: My friend purchased a new car. During the negotiation phase of the transaction, the salesperson said the company would cover the first service visit and he would personally cover the cost of the second. When asked for a written statement to that effect, the salesman said it was unnecessary – that he would definitely remember.

The first service visit went off without a hitch. During the second, though, when my friend told the service manager the salesman was going to cover it the response was that the statement must be verified by the salesperson – who at first said he didn’t recall the statement, then begrudgingly allowed the agreement to stand.

That lack of consistency, compassion, and communication made a huge dent in my friend’s level of trust in the competency of the dealership. His favorable impression after the first visit was destroyed on the second.

Will he continue to take his car there for service? Maybe and maybe not. One breach in trust can ruin a relationship for life. Research says ONE bad experience must be offset by FIVE positive experiences before it is negated.

Write these four elements down on an index card and carry it with you. Refer to the card until you have the foundations of trust memorized and you are mentally ticking them off as you proceed through the sales journey.

You may be known and liked… if you fail to build and maintain trust, though, none of that will matter.

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