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5 Steps to Competitive Differentiation - Part 4

Sellers are subject to stereotypes about selling. It's just something we have to expect and handle. What we don't have to do, though, is fuel those stereotypes. Chief among the negative stereotypes about sellers is the one that suggests we can never be trusted.

It's out there. And it's in the back of every buyer's mind unless and until you overcome that perception by behaving differently. Unless you want to continue carrying that stigma, you will have to differentiate yourself from the stereotype (and from some other sellers who behave in ways that make it stick).

Knowing that buyers have this perception, sellers have to work harder to demonstrate that they are trustworthy. You can't simply say you are different. You have to prove it through your actions.

To engender your buyer's trust, you need to stop selling and start leading.

One of the practices prescribed by this research is to Enable Others to Act. Leaders build mutual trust with followers so they can collaborate effectively. Sellers must do the same.

In an age of empowered buyers who no longer respond to one-direction selling, collaboration is essential. But it doesn't come easily. Collaboration requires open sharing and some vulnerability, too. Unlike traditional win/lose negotiating, the aim of collaboration is win/win -- not through compromise but through expanded dialogue that gets all needs and everyone's needs met. That simply can't happen without a firm foundation of trust.


The most effective leaders are able to do this. They do it by frequently demonstrating behaviors that build trust and open up collaborative dialogue. When sellers step into a leadership role with their buyers, they can access these very same behaviors and enjoy the same outcomes.

If you're getting nowhere in your negotiations and collaborations, step back to build trust. Stop selling and start leading.

The CONNECT2Sell Blog has been discontinued as our focus has shifted to leadership at every level. Research with buyers demonstrates that buyers respond favorably when sellers show up as leaders. If you'd like to step into your full potential as a leader (and boost sales!), take a look at our free and affordable courses on