You cannot form solid connections without a firm foundation of trust. Trust brings buyers and sellers together and keeps them together. A lack of trust inhibits buyers, and a breach in trust shuts them down completely. Trust is vital to forming buyer/seller connections.
When it comes to establishing trust to help sales pros can connect with buyers, sellers start with a disadvantage. It isn’t fair, but it’s an unavoidable reality. The profession of selling has a blemished reputation. Buyers have been conditioned to proceed with caution when entering into relationships with sellers. Buyers assume sellers are money-motivated, tricky, slick and self-absorbed. All too often, sellers prove these perceptions to be true. So the rest of us have to compensate for untrustworthy ones who burn our buyers.
In order to gain and maintain the trust of and connect with buyers, sellers must act in a trustworthy manner at all times. Trust is so fragile that a 90% rate of being trustworthy simply isn’t good enough. The buyer will remember the one out of 10 times you did not deliver in a trustworthy way.
100% trustworthy is a mighty high standard. On top of that, there’s more to being trustworthy than you might expect. There are 12 different dimensions of trust that come into play. Knowing and being responsive in all 12 areas is what it takes to build and preserve trust. DISCOVER Questions® can help you do exactly that.
As you review the Dimensions of Trust, you may be surprised by what’s included. Most of us start and end with a narrower definition focused on honesty and integrity. But understanding how trustworthiness is also evaluated on follow through, availability, self-assessment and more can help sellers improve the way they are perceived and received by their buyers.
These 12 Dimensions of Trust represent the 12 ways a seller can build or erode trust with buyers. Each associated action creates a connection or causes a disconnection. Knowing about all 12 Dimensions of Trust empowers a seller who wants strong connections founded in trust. Not knowing leads to buyer mistrust and seller confusion.
Confused sellers disconnect by responding ineffectively when buyers express a lack of trust. Buyers’ suspicions or reservations may not seem warranted. The seller may not be able to pinpoint what action(s) led to diminished trust. The seller may also be reluctant to acknowledge how his or her own action(s) were a factor in diminishing the buyer’s trust. Not understanding the 12 Dimensions of Trust can convolute the situation and result in misplaced blame instead of corrective action.
One common example is when a buyer says “This didn’t work like you told me it would.” The implied loss of trust could be related to the product’s failure or to the seller’s failure in setting reasonable expectations. Buyers start with the belief that sellers have exaggerated or made false claims about their products. Sellers who don’t know all 12 Dimensions of Trust don’t hold themselves accountable in this situation. Instead, they believe their products are unsatisfactory.
The problem with this scenario is two-fold. First, the buyer’s trust is broken, the relationship is impaired, and the blame is reported internally as a dissatisfaction with the product. That means subsequent sales attempts are less likely. Second, the seller is not likely to self-correct, so this scenario will be recurring. With enough repetition, the seller will truly believe the product is flawed or inferior.
To avoid misplacing blame and to build trust, sellers need to become more self-aware and cognizant of the 12 Dimensions of Trust.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published January 2016 and has been recently updated.