Insight



Mind The Gap 

 


Developing value propositions that cross the marketing-sales chasm?

This is the first of a series of articles exploring how sales and marketing can work more effectively together, to create value for the company and their customers. Tim Chapman, Managing Partner of Sales EQ and Dr Simon Kelly, Managing Partner Shake Marketing, discuss how Sales and Marketing view value propositions.

To kick the series off it's probably worth reminding ourselves’ why having better sales-marketing alignment is vital now, more than ever.

Well, the results speak for themselves with well-aligned organisations typically growing more than 20% in revenue compared with a revenue decline for those less well aligned (Aberdeen Group 2014). In this Omni-channel world the customer can be an average of 60% of the way through the buying process before they contact a salesperson (CEB research,) at which time 67% of the customers have a clear picture of the solution they want (Sirius Decisions). This means that the marketing content that the customer receives must resonate with the customer and be consistent with sales messages throughout the customer journey, strange that 94% of customers claim to have disengaged with organisations because they are being sent irrelevant content that gives them no value (CEB research).

Simon: http://www.shakemktg.com/value-ology/ my colleagues Dr Paul Johnston, Stacey Danheiser and myself, provide lots of academic and commercial evidence showingmany and varied definitions of the value proposition, our own version is :

"A value proposition is a promise of expected future value, illustrating that future relevant and distinct benefits will outweigh the total cost of ownership"

In large organisations there are many different flavours of marketers performing different roles, which can present challenges getting agreement on how value propositions are developed. From the perspective of the CMO the first step should be to develop clarity on the value your organisation aspires to provide customers it seeks to serve. Ideally, this should focus on key themes that are important to customers like "Productivity", "Agility" or "Security". The CMO should also lead the effort to align the product and services to the chosen themes.

Many B2B organisations split their customers into industry sectors. It should then be the job of the Industry Marketing Leader to take the value themes and develop them for their specific sector. For example, what productivity or security issues do Financial Services customers face? How can we address these issues? Answering these questions in detail should lead to the Productivity or Security Value Proposition for Banks.

At this point things can become problematic because it's the handover point between marketing and sales! Now the salesperson must develop value propositions relevant for her customer that should align to the themes to help develop the overall company brand. There is often a chasm at this marketing - sales handover point, that a former SVP of Sales colleague of mine insightfully called; the "Sophistication gap". As often the material that comes from marketing is too generic.

"Yeah, I mean I think generally speaking, there is a sophistication gap and certainly you'll hear from sales that I need use cases, I need references, I need a translation of your insights into actionable discussions. And I think the argument is whose responsibility is this to create those actionable discussions. And I think it's a joint responsibility."

Tim: If you, like me, are involved in sales perhaps some of these data points will resonate….

58% of sales deals end in no deal because the customer has not been convinced of the value in signing the deal. (Qvidian Sales Execution research). In a recent study performed by Televerde 47% of B2B sales people said that the major reason they lost a deal, was because the product or service's value had not been adequately conveyed to the prospect. Little wonder that 46% of sales people said the asset they most wanted from marketing was "Value proposition"

Running value selling workshops with clients, I often hear sales people pass the responsibility to marketing for developing value propositions and the accompanying all important slideware.They are all looking for the ‘silver bullet point’! The reality is that it is a joint responsibility, sales and marketing need to work together effectively, or it simply falls down the ‘sophistication gap’. The Marketing team developing the ingredients and the sales teams working on a unique recipe for each client. The sales focus needs to be on listening and tailoring the messages to specific customer business challenges. Or developing insights the customer should be thinking about…’people don’t know what they don’t know’.

simon@shakemktg.com 07850 709116 (Marketing) or Tim on tim.chapman@sales-eq.com / 07771 977773 (Sales)Account management training, Business to Business sales or B2B selling, Insight Selling,Key Account Management, Management training, Management training course, Negotiation Skills, Online sales training, Sales coaches, Sales consultancy, Sales effectiveness programmes, Sales effectiveness training, Sales excellence, Sales leadership coaching, Sales management coaching Sales performance coaching,Sales performance trainers, Sales strategy, Sales team training, Sales trainers, Sales training,Sales training courses,Social selling, Strategic selling, Value Selling

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“10 secrets to a successful value pitch...."

 


This is the second in a series of articles exploring how sales and marketing can work

more effectively together, to create value for the company and their customers. Tim

Chapman, Managing Partner of Sales EQ and Dr Simon Kelly, Managing Partner Shake

Marketing, provide ten secrets for a powerful value pitch.Tim and Simon are also

members of the Sales Faculty at the Management School, University of York

Tim will give a sales perspective on what good looks like, Simon will give a view on what

marketers should be doing the give sales the key that unlocks the ten secrets to a

powerful value pitch.

1.Get in your Customers Shoes.

Tim with the sales view….

While this might seem obvious hundreds of sales observations tells me that it still not done well.  The tendency is to rely on your perspective rather than the buyer. You need to work hard to identify what matters to your client and perhaps as importantly their clients. This is what I would refer to as ‘right to left’ or ‘outside-in’ sales thinking, start with customers customer, how this impacts your client and finally you as the supplier. 

Simon with the marketing view…

There is clear evidence that this is not done well. Despite the fact that many sales people get lots of training around customer focus only 1 in 4 are seen by C-level buyers are knowing anything about the customer or their industry (Forrester research). Marketers should arm sales with insight into key industry issues and insights to help the sales person walk a mile in the customers shoes.

2.What’s the Hook or Trigger?

Tim.

What will make your customer buy?  Your value proposition needs to talk to these triggers or if it isn’t there create one!

Simon

Yes, so out of all the issues and opportunities facing the customer what are the one or two things that will truly resonate with the customer. In their seminal HBR Article “Value Propositions in Business Markets” Anderson et. al. (2006) call this Resonating Focus. While sales people have to understand what the hook might be for an individual customer marketing should look to learn from customer-sales interactions as what’s worked for other customers in the past might help with current deals.

3.You have to use numbers. 

Tim

Rationality is part of the decision-making process and you have to be able to talk to this side of the brain. Some salespeople are not confident with using numbers, after all we are not all analytical. Get some help from colleagues with these skills, use ranges or percentages and test your calculations before committing to them.

Simon

Yes and while 95% of Chief Financial Officers demand that suppliers provide evidence of numeric value only 5% of sales people do this (Professor Malcolm McDonald). If Marketing has past case studies where a similar solution has been sold these should include evidence of value delivered to the customer. If it’s a brand-new service marketing should provide sales with a logic flow of the value a customer can expect to get

4.You also have to tell a story.

Tim

The other half of the decision-making brain is impacted by emotion. We are social animals and stories have been proven to; ‘light up’ more of the brain than facts and create a ‘mirroring effect’ between the teller and listener. Jerome Bruner in his book Actual Minds, Possible Worlds states that ‘people are 22 times more likely to remember and internalize a story than facts or bullet points’.

Simon

For sure, they have to be stories that shine a light on the problem at hand and describe what things would look like if the problem was solved, or not. Marketing can provide ‘air cover’ messaging and stories that sales people can build on. I’m sure we all remember that “Nobody got fired for buying IBM”.

5.What’s your relevance?

Tim

Are you important to the buyer? Where are you in their priority list or ‘to do list’?  A well-crafted value proposition can help move you up the list and build urgency into the decision-making process.

Simon

100% agree. In our book Value-ology (value-ology)

we define a value proposition as:

“A promise of expected future value, illustrating that future relevant and distinct benefits will outweigh the cost of ownership” Relevance is key. While Marketing must know what the relevant issues are for a customer sector the sales person must work to truly understand what is relevant for the individual customer.

6.Understand the ‘whole person’ you are delivering the message to.

Tim

You need to understand their personal and business drivers, their buying and communications styles. If you don’t understand their communication style your value pitch can be the best in the world, but it isn’t going to be heard.

Simon

All too easy to overlook. I remember a French CEO who was “only interested in business” and a Scottish MD who hated build slides. Sounds trivial but no small talk and flying bullet points needed here. This one is on the sales person, make sure to ask anyone else in the organisation if they’ve got any experience of working with your customer contacts.

7.Ask a few questions

Tim

A sales pitch should not be a monologue…let the customer breath and ensure they don’t ‘check out’ on you! Try inserting some insightful or challenging questions into your pitch. Provoke some thought.

Simon

If you don’t ask the right questions you won’t be able to create a relevant value proposition. While marketing can provide some sample questions to help uncover needs it’s on the sales person to sense what’s happening in the customer conversation to draw out value. Expert sales people who do this can truly be called, what my Value-ology value-ology co-author, Dr Paul Johnston calls Value Proposing Professionals.

8.Have an Opinion.

Tim

Add in some relevant insight or third-party research.  This shows you have done your homework and helps the build credibility, which is a vital ingredient in building trust with a customer. Without trust there is likely no sale, unless you have a scarce product or service!

Simon

Yes, Corporate Executive Board (CEB) research to support the ‘Challenger Sale’ book challenger-sale showed that insightful sales people generated lots of customer loyalty through insightful customer conversations, Marketing need to work with sales to help make sense of what 3rd party research is saying.

9.Why You? 

Tim

What differentiates you from the competition, what do you do real well…your ‘sweet spot’?  Do a ‘So What’ test and ensure you are not guilty of trotting out the same pitch as your competitors.

Simon

Ouch, at a sales pitch level “Why Us” is often mistakenly put forward as the whole value proposition. It’s a competent part that tells the customer what is distinct about your company that makes it the best choice to deliver relevant value. What marketers can do is to make sure that other forms of communication the customer sees do help differentiate your company. Unfortunately, many companies just seem to say the same thing as each other, they are swimming in a “Sea of Sameness”.

10. All’s well that ends well…

Tim

End with a call to action or recommended next step. Sounds simple but as with the simple things, they get left out nine times out of ten.

Simon

Absolutely, sounds like Sales 101!

rock-your-customers-world You can get a free preview of a value proposition module from our online course at value-ology course.

Good luck in unlocking the 10 secrets to a successful value pitch, let us know how you get on!Thanks for reading if you got this far :@).

tim.chapman@sales-eq.com

simon@shakemktg.com



“The thing that annoys me most about Procurement is….”


Second of a series of short talking heads articles from Tim and Beth, tackling the gritty dilemmas experienced by sales and procurement professionals.


Addressing this fundamental from a sales perspective, Tim Chapman can tell us why it is important to them to know.

Tim: Any salesperson worth his or her salt will want to try and understand the buyers budget.Initially the information is used to qualify whether the opportunity is a good one to pursue and is winnable, at required profit margins for the bid team.It is also important to understand who set the budget, as this often uncovers who is influential in the buying centre and who to pitch value to try and increase the budget.

Beth: For those old enough to remember him, let me quote Max Bygraves – “I wanna tell you a story”:  My dad offered to buy me my first car when I was 19.  At the showroom, my dad said to the salesman he had £1700 to spend.  He was sold a car at £1700 and the salesman and my dad were both happy.  The problem is the car wasn't worth £1700.  Had he not told them his budget, I might have got a better or newer car for the same money - or my dad might have saved around 2-300 quid and we'd have still walked out with the same vehicle.

Let’s make it more personal for you.If you buy a home, your agent won’t usually reveal your budget to the vendor.  For the equivalent value, you could secure additional fixtures and fittings, white goods, curtains, a pond full of fish or whatever the current owners are happy to include in the offer price, in order that the sale is secured. Still both parties would feel they had the best negotiated deal.Further down the line the survey may also prove the house isn’t worth the value it is being sold for and this will provide an opportunity for the purchaser to secure the property below their undisclosed budget.

Lastly, let us place these principals into a business context: Budgets are often complex and contain many assumptions.  If savings are achieved through clarification of needs, then removal of nice-to-haves or building in undisclosed contingency budgets for future planned but unspecified extra scope, is for internal debate only, because the company is a dynamic entity that is constantly adapting to its own need for change.It may be monies can be invested elsewhere in the project overall or re-invested elsewhere (opportunity cost) on some other internal need.So, sharing budget information may prove to be a red herring.

A final word from Tim:

beth@wallaceconsultingltd.co.uk/ 07974 192626 or Tim on tim.chapman@sales-eq.com / 07771 977773.

Watch out for further articles from us.

Account management training, Business to Business sales or B2B selling, Insight Selling, Key Account Management, Management training, Management training course, Negotiation Skills, Online sales training, Sales coaches, Sales consultancy, Sales effectiveness programmes, Sales effectiveness training, Sales excellence, Sales leadership coaching, Sales management coaching

Sales performance coaching, Sales performance trainers, Sales strategy, Sales team training, Sales trainers, Sales training, Sales training courses, Social selling, Strategic selling, Value Selling


The thing that annoys me most about procurement is...
The formal tender process.


Beth Wallace, Director at Wallace Consulting

First of a series of short talking heads articles from Tim and Beth,  tackling the gritty dilemmas experienced by sales and procurement professionals.

Over the years I have heard this from a variety of suppliers and their sales teams. As a procurement director, I have enjoyed providing the lead for the complex procurement process. Often working with clients on formal procurement pitches for contracts involving multiple stakeholders of diverse disciplines and cultures. More recently delivering workshops to sales teams on negotiation skills, with Tim Chapman of Sales EQ. In all contexts suppliers and their sales teams have frequently expressed their frustrations concerning aspects of the process.

I am still surprised and often disappointed that a level of friction remains between the buying function and their potential suppliers. In my experience this has often resulted in sales becoming so disenfranchised by the process, that they have tried to cut us out altogether or at best find a backdoor route to accelerating through the process, leading to unnecessary delays and messy negotiations. I don’t believe the procurement journey should cause travel weariness and be punctuated with dizzying emergency stops, so in the interests of throwing light onto the complex sales process,Tim and I have written a series of mini articles, aimed at sharing industry best practice and answering the most common questions putting them under the lens to explore both sides of the argument.


The first one must be; “The thing that annoys me most about Procurement is … when they block or restrict my access to key business stakeholders and decision makers during the formal tender process”.

 

Tim: That’s one view.What about Procurement – why do we get annoyed?  There are a few key reasons:

Beth: We are accountable for being the single point for receiving and sharing information consistently, both internally and more importantly, externally. This allows for a fair process all round for all potential suppliers. What if your competitor got more detail than you and it was critical to your pitch?

The majority, if not all, tender selection criteria will include a weighting for cultural fit. Not following a clear and simple process requirement doesn’t necessarily bode well for the future about how the supplier listens to the client so often the impact of dodging around Procurement at this stage is that the supplier gets a lower cultural fit mark .Is that email or call worth a drop in your marks?

Some thoughts for sales…..

Beth: So, when you reach to pick up the virtual pen or your smartphone, why not just make it the person outlined in the tender document – it’ll save a lot of time, effort and more importantly, annoyance on both sides!

Tim: The key learn for me over the years has been to engage the stakeholders (including procurement) well in advance of the formal tendering process. Really get into the customer’s shoes and understand the business drivers for the project. This will ensure you are best placed when the formal process kicks in.

tim.chapman@sales-eq.com / 07771 977773.

Watch out for further related articles from us too!

Account management training, Business to Business sales or B2B selling, Insight Selling,Key Account Management, Management training, Management training course, Negotiation Skills, Online sales training, Sales coaches, Sales consultancy, Sales effectiveness programmes, Sales effectiveness training, Sales excellence, Sales leadership coaching, Sales management coaching

Sales performance coaching,Sales performance trainers, Sales strategy, Sales team training,Sales trainers, Sales training,Sales training courses,Social selling, Strategic selling, Value Selling


more...

The Salesperson's Secret Code: "The belief systems that distinguish winners "

Listed amongst WH Smiths bestsellers 2017

Over the last two years Tim and the authors of ‘The Salesperson’s Secret Code’ have been interviewing hundreds of sales people from different businesses, sectors and cultures. The thousands of pieces of both qualitative and quantitative research have been illustrated through stories of individual sales success.

The objective has been to write a book that is easy to read, engaging and thought provoking, but which is also backed up with rigorous research. In other words, not what experience ‘tells’ us but what we observe as we learn how salespeople behave and how they are driven.

What makes a great salesperson? What beliefs, attitudes and behaviours are linked to being a top performing salesperson? What impact does culture, industry and sales context have? And does a formal sales methodology or process make a difference? This book is for any sales professional, or indeed anyone involved in the sales process of their company, who wants to learn the secrets of successful selling. It is based on 20,000 hours of comparative analyses across the spectrum of performance and interviews with the world’s most iconic salespeople from organisations, including Adidas, Cisco, Deloitte, GSK, JP Morgan, Microsoft, Oracle, State Street, Steinway & Co. and Toshiba.

The authors present the most rigorous global evaluation of how salespeople behave and how they are driven and in doing so, they reveal the secret code behind consistent and high-level success in sales. 

The authors of this book have all ‘carried a bag’ and are passionate about the development of the sales profession. A collaboration between; best-selling authors Ian Mills, Mark Ridley and Ben Laker from Transform People International, and Tim Chapman, Managing Partner at Sales EQ.


more...

Are you really listening to your customer?


Click for Amazon!

I am always on the lookout for a good read, particularly books which provoke thought and may not be typically seen as ‘sales’ orientated. One such good read was recommended to me by a valued business partner, Clare Edmonds CEO at Clarify. The book: 'From Contempt to Curiosity: Creating the Conditions for Groups to Collaborate Using Clean Language & Systemic Modelling TM’ by Catlin Walker. Now, on the title alone you may be thinking ‘what has this got to do with sales?’ This got me curious too…so I had a read.

As I worked my way through the first two chapters the messages started to resonate, making me reflect on my own and other sales people’s tendencies to sometimes ‘tune out’ of a conversation with a customer. It also rang true on how easy it is to view a conversation through our own frame of reference, i.e. what do I need out of this conversation. Ever had that feeling you are answering your own questions and/or are anticipating the answers before the real one comes? I found this has happened to me at points in my selling career, and particularly when I have been focused on the product/solution I am selling, versus what is really happening for the customer.

As part of Walker's consideration of Clean Language and Systemic Modelling, she found that when we actively think about the limits of our attention in conversation, we learn that in-fact we naturally extract the points of the conversation that we desire as the outcome. And so with this, Walker explains that to be a good listener, we need to separate our aims, expectations, and desired outcomes to that of the other individuals. Our focus should be on; detecting their patterns, attending to what is happening for them, and to be able to distinguish between what is being presented and what we hope to be. We also need to focus on the sensory aspects of the conversation, the old adage of ‘it’s not what you say, but how you say it’.

Walker’s 'Flower Model', acts as a system which aims to help the individual move between each 'petal' whilst simultaneously considering clean questions, curiosity, and respect and so succeeding in becoming a great listener. This concept promotes the spirit of experimentation and exploration in conversation. Enabling us to open our senses up to the person/people we are conversing with - mastering listening intently and understanding the true nature of gestures and emotions.

In summary the book made me;

  • Think and reflect on my own behaviour
  • Helped me to refocus on how to be more empathetic in my listening style
  • Focused me on asking better ‘clean’ questions which are framed from the customer perspective not what I need to know.

It’s worth a read.

Tim Chapman, Managing Partner Sales EQ Ltd

more...
 

What has trust got to do with it?

If you were to ask someone in the street, let us say it’s your grandma for argument’s sake, to give a view on their perception of the average high earning professional sales person, what do you think grandma’s opinion might be? Go on let your imagination do its’ very best and conjure up the definitive identikit salesperson, as grandma might describe them to you. With some confidence, I can predict many of you will have in your mind’s eye a stereotype resplendent with some negative traits.Let me assume that your grandma, shares similarities to mine and looks as sweet as a cup cake but is one of those post-war baby boomers, who are negotiation savvy, thrifty types, with bomb proof savings pots. Grandma will have lived a life and she may just have an opinion that top earning sales people, could be described as displaying some of the following characteristics and behavioural traits: pushy, flashy, self- interested, maybe even slightly shady or not to be fully trusted with her money, confidences or personal data?

These stereotypes have only been reinforced by high profile ‘mis-selling’ scandals in the energy and financial sectors, which are still affecting public perception today. Trust is not only an issue in sales but for wider society and business, no more so, than post the 2008 Financial Crash. If we can’t trust a bank, who can we trust?

After carrying out a detailed qualitative study of over 200 top performing business to business sales people, across multiple industries and international markets, we have shown that the key characteristics of both trust and generosity are fundamental to their personal belief systems and self-styled ethical codes. Similarly, integral to both their personal feelings of success and their measurable target smashing success, as high performers. Why are trustworthy sales people higher revenue earners than their lower integrity driven twins?If so, how and why are generous people able to blow apart those negative stereotypes and still be the best of the best, without resorting to a ‘me first’ attitude to selling in business to business sales. We believe these findings will be of interest to; those developing sales effectiveness strategies, sales leadership coaches and sales people looking to improve their sales and negotiation skills.

Our research focused on high, medium and low performers and we made some interesting discoveries about the importance of personal beliefs, trust and integrity.Our research indicates that high performing sales people, share a similar mind-set and behavioural traits when it comes to trust and generosity.They invest in high trust relationships with their customers by delivering on their commitments and genuinely care about their customer.The low performers view customers as transactions, a rational exchange, with a focus on the personal gain for the sales person. Adam Smith pays reference to the concept of self-interested man as the driver of economic efficiency and growth, as far back as 1776, in his book ‘Wealth of Nations’. Interestingly, even Smith considered that this might not be the only way ‘however selfish so ever man be supposed to be, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it’.

Before we explore the concept of Trust in more detail, here are a few quotes from our high performers which reflect the opening paragraphs;

Quotes from our research:

‘I think that it is important to have integrity even though we are supposed to be sharks you can make money and still have integrity’

‘In the end, all I have is my integrity and my reputation and I defend that fiercely’

3 Perspectives of Trust

Trust can be explored from these three main perspectives;

The rational view is that individuals are fundamentally driven by self-interest and that benefit to society is a by-product of this drive for personal gain. The decision to trust someone is based on whether you think it is in the best interests of the other party to help you.How does this play out in the world of sales? Commissions and incentives certainly drive self-interest, but is that driver a reason to trust the seller?I remember many years ago, early in my sales career, I sold something which wasn’t right for the client. I knew it, the customer didn’t. He trusted me to deliver a good solution for his small business. I was driven by self-interest, as I was up against it with poor sales in the first quarter, feeling the pressure from my management team and worrying about paying the mortgage and the nursery fees, anticipating I was in line for the sack. It was a lesson well learnt and it still sticks with me today. Self-interest doesn’t bring success; it’s a short-term goal.The high performers in our research consistently consider long term relationships and integrity, to be far more important than self-interest.

Quotes from our research:

‘ensuring that my integrity is intact from a personal and business point of view, making sure I am genuine, which might not always be in the best interests of the sale’

‘honesty and integrity is number one. If you compromise that, it is very hard to recover from. You have to be strong not to do so’

The philosophical perspective on trust considers how you will trust someone based on how good natured they are to you and whether they care about you. Would you see sales as a caring profession?Surprisingly our research suggests that high performing sales people have strong beliefs and behaviours which are linked to caring, benevolence and genuinely wanting to do good for their customers. Their DISC profiles also reflect this, with an emphasis on influencing behaviours; compassion, generosity and kindness versus low performers with a profile with strong driver behaviour.

High performers view caring in two dimensions; a self-view, ‘I care how I am perceived’, and a relationship based view, ‘I care about someone and they care about me’.

Quotes from our research:

People definitely. People are lasting, relationships are lasting and it’s linked to reputation. I do care about what people think of me...I wish I didn’t but I do.

The self-view relates to how high performing sales people ‘like to be liked’.They don’t like to think of people thinking badly of them, thus this creates both, a motivator for high performance and increases their awareness of the need to be trustworthy and honest in their relationships with their clients.To build trust, you need to be concerned about what people think of you and this behaviour will drive the avoidance of being dishonest and lead to high trust behaviours. On the ‘flip side’ people who are super confident and are largely self-interested often exhibit the highest levels of cognitive dissonance, the inability to distinguish truth from lies.

Caring can also be viewed in a relationship context. We are all fundamentally social beings who like to feel someone genuinely cares about us and we also derive the positive emotion of fulfilment, which comes from caring for someone else.

Quotes from our research:

‘There are the ‘care’ and ‘don’t care camp’ OK.When I think of people, either can be successful but it comes down to those that care and those that don’t care.You can get a really good successful sales person who are in the don’t care camp and they are typically better for new business sales, you know deal funders etc., where the focus is not on building long-term relationships but just building a process and being good at the management of that and the relationship for that period of time. Then there is the care side that I fall into which is building the relationship for the longer period of time.

A caring approach to social relationships also includes the need to be open and vulnerable, ‘often those who are the most successful are also the most vulnerable’ Matthew Syed, Black Box Thinking (2015).By being generous and open you will negate the impact of self-interest and thus increase trust and build long term relationships. You know that good feeling of warmth when you give a gift to someone, a loved one, and you see their faces. You are not expecting anything in return; you just want to make them happy.In a business context that could be a ‘random act of kindness’.Occasionally doing something for a customer without expecting anything in return.Perhaps not a good negotiation technique, but one that will build profitable long term relationships. Being generous and open based on a belief that doing some good returns something beneficial in the future. The reverse of the self-interested short term gain view of a sales transaction.

Evolutionary psychology provides a third perspective, based on reciprocal altruism. We trust someone if they don’t let us down, ‘trust is a psychological state comprising the intention to accept vulnerability, based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behaviour of another’ Rosseau (1996). We are constantly assessing both skill/capability and intention to determine our level of trust in an individual.If you think of a profession that you would have a high level of trust, a doctor perhaps, your trust is largely based on an expectation that the doctor is well trained and their intention is to make you better. Conversely you may view a Politician with low trust. I would suggest this is largely based on your assessment of their intention rather than their ability to do the job, although you might question this too!You may view a sales person in the same bracket as the politicians, with the balance of trust assessment weighted more towards intention than skill level.In a long-term relationship, intention will be a factor of whether commitments have been delivered, i.e. can I trust you to deliver on your promises.

The psychological trust quotient is:

Or we could explain this in a way that directly relates to the customer/suppler relationship as;

Our high performing sales people demonstrated beliefs and behaviours, which focused on meeting commitments and creating a positive view of how customers viewed their intentions. A trusting relationship typically delivers more value to both parties over the long term.This is the concept of affective trust, which relates directly to the security of the relationship over time. This secure relationship is built on several transactions and the successful meeting of commitments in each of these transactions.So, there may be an argument that to achieve a high performing sales team, it is not enough just to focus on sales people being skilled and knowledgeable. The focus should also be on increasing the customer’s view of our sales people’s ability to deliver on their commitments.

Quotes from our research:

Put as much research in as you can before you make the commitment and then make the commitment and then deliver on it and do everything in your powers to deliver on that commitment.You know as a business we are not always able to deliver on that commitment but the expectation is along the way and they will trust me and usually I deliver it even if it’s late.I think honesty and execution are important.’

‘Be there for the client. Someone who delivers on their promises and commitments’

‘We are selling very different solutions now and they are based on the knowledge that we deliver on what we promise and there is a huge amount of trust there. That gives me great satisfaction. To stand back, all big high end corporate companies, they trust me and the team to deliver’.

As the final quote indicates the Trust quotient is even more important in today’s knowledge based economy where there is greater reliance on networks of people. In order to be successful sales people, need to be able to build trust not only with their customers but also their internal stakeholders in order to be able to deliver for their clients and earn repeat business.If you have worked in a larger organisation you may have experienced the feeling that the greater proportion of your sales effort is pointed inwards to your organisation and less on your client facing activity.

‘I have a great support network, and virtual team.There are guys that want to be part of that team and I have built up a level of trust’.

Delivering on commitments is linked to an individual’s level of self-awareness and how they assess their ability to avoid making commitments they can’t deliver on. Or to put it in simple terms, the ability to say no when we can’t deliver or make that commitment.

‘so, the honesty side of things is probably up there with the respect side of things in terms of having integrity and the standing by your word when you say something and not going back on it as well’.

Returning to the Trust Quotient I would like to add two further dimensions; caring (benevolence) and Ethical code, based on the discussion above;

This brings together the psychological and philosophical view of trust.

Based on our research, high performers demonstrate a mix of these elements in their belief systems and behaviours.This allows them to build high trust and profitable customer relationships. I believe that to build trust in a sales culture that delivers high performance, there needs to be a clear focus on all elements of the Trust Quotient.This research evidences the basic principle expressed so well by Stephen Covey, not only isTrust is the glue of life. It's the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It's the foundational principle that holds all relationships’.

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Sales performance coaching,Sales performance trainers, Sales strategy, Sales team training,Sales trainers, Sales training,Sales training courses,Social selling, Strategic selling, Value Selling

This article has been prepared by Tim Chapman, Managing Partner at Sales EQ Limited, an international sales consultancy, coaching and training company. With over 25 years’ sales leadership experience in B2B sectors, Tim lectures in Behavioural Economics and International Sales Management.

www.sales-eq.com.

Call Tim on: (0) 7771 977773.

Email: tim.chapman@sales-eq.com

Twitter: @Sales_EQ

Facebook: @SalesEQLtd

The contents of this publication are subject to Copyright © 2017

By Tim D. Chapman. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Permission granted to reproduce for personal and educational use only


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