Are you in your Prospects Circle of Trust?

In the movies, Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers the soon to be Father in Law, Jack, so brilliantly played by Robert DeNiro had a Circle of Trust that Ben Stiller, Greg, so desperately tries to become accepted into. Greg just keeps stumbling as he tries to penetrate that invisible barrier. As you sit back and look at the different things that happen; the cat’s tail, the truth serum and the babysitting adventure you may be able to create an analogy of your own trust building attempts with prospects. Have you ever tried being a little more than you are? Have you ever attempted to disguise the truth? Probably not, but have you ever told a prospect what you really thought of them?

We many times talk about partnering; being close or a term I like to use is to be intimate with our customers. In essence, we are really after gaining their acceptance, exactly what Greg Focker so valiantly tries. Have you ever felt like your prospects are checking you out in their own control center and sometimes even unfairly? No matter what size of sale though, you do have to crack that circle of trust. Fortunately, seldom do you have to gain the trust of such a skeptic like Jack.

I find it interesting that many of us struggle in this area; I certainly do on just defining what trust might mean to our customers. That word “Trust” how do you define that? Do you believe trust emerges from meeting obligations or just being open with a prospect? That’s probably part of it. But these alone will not build trust. To leverage the power of choice in interpersonal relationships, trust must be built into the fabric of the relationship through continual reinforcement. It must be focused, manage, nurtured, and rewarded. Before someone decides to grant trust in a working relationship, a calculation goes on in the mind. The person granting your permission into their Circle of Trust can be simplified around these four dimensions:

  • Confidence: Does the person have the skills necessary to accomplish the past?
  • Reliability: Does the person deliver what is expected, when it is expected and in the form it is expected?
  • Open/Honest communications: Is the person forthright in his or her dealings?
  • Caring: Is this person willing to defend the interests of the other, even when that interest may affect his or her own interests?

According to the book,The Strongest Link: Forging a Profitable and Enduring Corporate Alliance, if the person scores are low on any one dimension, trust is difficult to achieve. The higher the person scores in each dimension, the stronger the trust. If someone is confident, reliable, honest, and willing to risk their career for you, what’s not to like about them? Ask anyone about these dimensions of trust, and they usually place confidence, reliability, and honesty on the list. However, caring is a different issue. We asked people in a business relationship how they show caring for their counterparts, he had some interesting answers. Typical responses you should listen to the prospects views, think about issues from their perspective, and include that person in all decision-making. But that answer does not go deep enough. Carrying in a business relationship means taking risk even risks that threaten one’s own standing in the firm. That is where true trust lies.

It would be great if your salespeople could develop this kind of trust. However, stop for a second and ask; does your organization build this kind of trust, internally and externally?

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