Misconceptions about Trust-based Selling: It Doesn’t Work

This is the third in a series of three about misconceptions regarding Trust-based Selling™. The first was about naievete; the second, about time.

The third misconception is that it doesn’t make sense, it just doesn’t work.

Not unreasonable, since trust-based selling rests on some apparent paradoxes. For example:

a. managing your sales with short term metrics will drive your short term metrics down;
b. the best way to be credible is to admit where you’re not;
c. you have the most influence over customers when you stop trying to influence them;
d. the best way to improve your closure rate is to stop trying to improve your closure rate;
e. to gain control, give up control.

This shouldn’t be surprising. For an elegant statement of how this paradox plays out—nominally in golf—see Phil McGee’s post The Putt.

The thing is, buying is still a very human phenomenon—and we humans are obstinately perverse. We do not like being hustled. We do not like being told what to do by those who we don’t think understand us. And we do not buy from people we think are using us for their own ends.

That’s the heart of the paradox. A salesperson who puts his sale ahead of his customer will lose both. A salesperson who puts his customer ahead of his sale will win both. You have to care about the customer—for the sake of the customer, not for what the customer can do for you.

The language of paradox is alien to modern sales. Big corporate sales is all about linear process management: break it down into ever-finer pieces, and micro-manage each one. Fine-tune the sales pitch; tweak the yield rates by tighter lead qualification; get the close in this quarter; and measure everything by the effect it has on sale and the cost to get there.

That’s all about the sale—not the customer. The term “customer focus” itself is turned inside out when we evaluate “focus” by whether or not it produces the sale.
Trust-based Selling is not a process—it’s a set of principles consistently applied. They are:

1. customer focus—for the sake of the customer
2. an instinct for collaboration
3. a default toward transparency except where injurious or illegal
4. a medium-to-long term focus on the relationship, not a short-term focus on the transaction.

If you had to put it into one word, it would be “care.” The more complex, long, and specialized the sale, the more we buy from those who care about us more than they care about getting the sale.

Doesn’t make sense? On the contrary, it makes all the sense in the world.


If you’d like to learn more about Trust-based Selling™, why not join me for a Webinar tomorrow, Thursday, August 21, titled How to Build Trust in Sales Conversations. It is from 2PM to 3:30PM, Eastern time. See you there.


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