Today’s post is by Jim Hooker, CEO of Televerde.
When relationships build revenue and trust builds relationships, it’s critical that sales leaders cultivate an internal culture of trust.
It’s easy for sales leaders to get caught up in the latest trends, from account-based marketing and digital transformation to AI and predictive analytics. All these tools can help create a more efficient sales organization, but I believe the human element in sales is still the most powerful resource.
If teams are going to have long-lasting success, sales leaders need to empower their teams to build credibility in prospect and client relationships. You can do this by creating a culture of trust within the sales team.
No Jerks Allowed
A lot of companies hire salespeople based on past success, but good numbers alone don’t always mean good conduct. Anyone who’s been in sales for a few years has a story about a jerk who killed it initially, only to come crashing down when things finally caught up to them.
Relationships don’t last long when there’s a perceived lack of honesty, understanding, and teamwork, especially when it comes to B2B products and services with long buying cycles.
Today, salespeople have so many chances to build trust with prospects and clients. Personal emails, phone calls, and face-to-face meetings are obvious opportunities, but even automated nurture campaigns and social media posts can radiate personality. No matter how they’re interacting with leads and customers, your sales team should build relationships with a focus on how they communicate:
- Personalize every communication.
This requires clean, comprehensive data and basic knowledge of prospects and customers. See how Steve Jobs personalized his email to James Murdoch.
- Show prospects and clients a little understanding.
Beyond a correct name and an accurate title, do your salespeople understand every prospect and client’s pain points, needs, and challenges? You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Work with your marketing team to map your buyer’s journey and create buyer personas that reflect real-life situations.
- Demonstrate reliability.
It’s the little things that matter, so make sure your salespeople follow through – even with the smallest actions. If they can’t, apologize, explain what happened honestly, and try to make things right.
- Expose your vulnerabilities.
Good salespeople care more about helping customers than covering up weaknesses. If a prospect only has 100 employees and wouldn’t get an ROI with your product or service, your salespeople should tell them. If their business grows or your prospect moves to a bigger company, your salespeople will be the first people they call.
- Make yourself more likable.
People buy from people. Good salespeople relate to prospects and customers by finding common ground in things like sports, music, family, or books. See how Televerde’s global VP of sales, Dawn Coppens, has built lifelong friends through her career by focusing on how she can help.
Create a Culture of Trust
Building relationships with prospects and clients is easier if your sales team works well with each other and their leaders. A focus on collaboration over competition can sometimes be difficult for sales managers to adapt to, but we’re wired to be more productive if we trust the people we work with.
Writing for the Harvard Business Review, professor Paul J. Zac explains that “building a culture of trust is what makes a meaningful difference…Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74 percent less stress, 106 percent more energy at work, 50 percent higher productivity, 13 percent fewer sick days, 76 percent more engagement, 29 percent more satisfaction with their lives, 40 percent less burnout.”
In this article about the neuroscience behind trust, Zac offers eight tips to help business leaders manage for trust:
- Recognize excellence
- Induce “challenge stress”
- Give people discretion in how they do their work
- Enable job crafting
- Share information broadly
- Intentionally build relationships
- Facilitate whole-person growth
- Show vulnerability
Are you doing these things for your sales team?
Join us at the Sales 3.0 Conference on March 12, 11:10 a.m.
Bringing the human element into the sales process is essential for winning hearts and minds, and I’m excited to be speaking on this topic at the Sales 3.0 Conference in San Francisco on March 12. Register now to join Gerhard Gschwandtner and me as we talk about establishing trust with clients.