Misconceptions about Trust-based Selling II: The Time Thing

Last week I wrote about the first of three misconceptions people have regarding trust-based selling—the idea that it’s naïve.

This post tackles the second misconception: that trust takes too much time, both elapsed time and in aggregate. You’ve heard this one as either:

  • “trust takes time and we can’t afford to wait that long,” or
  • “trust takes such a big time commitment I’m not sure it’s worth it.”

It takes too long; it takes too much. Neither is true.

Let’s start with “trust takes time.” How long does it take for you to read the degree on the doctor’s wall? To notice the doctor’s white coat? To share feelings with a surprisingly interesting seatmate on a transcontinental flight?

More pointedly: in a sales conversation, how long does it take to demonstrate interest, curiosity, caring, and enough self-confidence to shift the agenda on a dime in response to client interests? All these take less time than a conventional process-driven, presentation-oriented sales meeting—and create more trust.

Now let’s consider “trust takes such a big time commitment.” Behind this statement is the belief is the first belief—that people only come to trust slowly, in incremental parts, repeated frequently over time.

But trust has many dimensions: the “trust takes time” belief is mainly focused on reliability, which by definition does take elapsed time. It misses other senses of trust—credibility, integrity, intimacy, other-focus, for example. Those can be established in an event, in a moment, with a handshake, a word, a question asked at the right time in the right tone. These take very little time. And hence they don’t take a huge investment.

Let’s move away from B2B sales: consider online dating services. Do they take time? Do they require large investments of time?

Not if you consider the dating scene pre-Match.com. Think of the ability to read people’s self-descriptions, to hear about them in their own words, perhaps with video or audio, perhaps with some advance “metrics” on compatibility.

Now consider how long it took, and much invested time it took, to get to a comparable level of trust one date at a time, over days and weeks. Or consider the odds of a first date ending well in the online dating world, vs. the blind date world of not that long ago.

Rapid trust creation is not an oxymoron; if anything, it taps into something more powerful. Rather than waiting to develop trust by reputation, we can create trust by being bold, other-oriented, curious and courageous—quickly. And benefiting all.


Note: I will be giving a webinar this Thursday, on How to Build Trust in Sales Conversations.   It’s hosted by the good people at RainToday.com.  It’s from 2 to 3:30PM US Eastern time.  Again, that sign-up address is here.  

2 replies
  1. Dawn Rivers Baker
    Dawn Rivers Baker says:

    I really, really like this one, Charles. In essence, you make this very important point: you don’t go from "no trust" to "trust" in the blink of an eye.

    You "come to trust" or, perhaps even more accurate, you "learn to trust." And just like anything else you learn, it happens incrementally.

    I raised four kids and not one of them went from slithering across the floor on their bellies doing that "creep" thing to sprinting in the 100m in an instant. There was lots of using the furniture to reach the wobbly standing position, getting the balance together to move one leg at a time …

    And falling. There’s lots of falling.

    Learning to trust is a lot like that. You don’t go from nothing to everything in the blink of an eye. That would be impossible (or psychotic, I’m not sure which). There are a lot of waypoints and miniature tests you get to pass, and the initial "trust enough to have a conversation about a transaction without feeling like I’m being ripped off" doesn’t take all that long to establish.

    Long-term relationships take a long time to develop. Getting your toe in the door can take an hour. Sometimes less.

    Good stuff.

  2. carol stanley
    carol stanley says:

    I think all of this is very interesting…but I still think there are many elements to making the long term sale..trust or no trust.  I know that today people are very weary of salesmen!  However attitudes have changed.   I think most of us still want to do business with our friends.  Networking groups are still in great command.  I do not find a person in the yellow pages unless I am looking to buy tires.  I do believe it is a long process and there are no quick fixes to making the sale.  carol stanley  author of For Kids 59.99 and Over


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *