Trust is important in sales. Yeah, we know, a bit of an obvious statement to start with. But we aren’t talking about the need for trust from the consumer, which is very important. Instead, we’re talking about the importance of trust between you and your sales team – which is critical to collaboration and improving sales performance.
Imagine what would be possible if you weren’t spending time double-checking information, stalking (ahem… our apologies ‘checking up on’) your reps, trying to determine whether customers are being visited on a regular basis, or whether sales figures and sales activity are correct.
Instead of spending time doing battle with the ‘facts’, you could all get on with the real work of selling.
Stephen M.R. Covey’s (yes – the son of the late Dr. Stephen R. Covey who wrote “7 Habits of Highly Effective People“) “The Speed of Trust” shows that when trust goes up, costs go down and speed goes up. When there is less friction at work everything happens faster and better.
“… to earn the trust of people, the leaders of an organization must first treat them like people. To earn trust, you must extend trust.”
Simple. But not easy.
Start with these four things today
We have broken this down into the four things you can do right now to improve trust within your sales organization.
1. Lead by example
Adopt the behaviours and habits you want your team to emulate. If you want detailed meeting comments on customer interactions, then make sure that your notes set the bar. If you want expense claims in on time then make sure yours are, and that you pay on time too.
Where you spend time and attention is where your team will spend their time and attention. The alignment between what you say is essential and what you actively treat as important each day is critical to building trust.
Action: Write down the one behaviour that you want out of your team and commit to modeling it for one month. Notice if there has been an increase in this behaviour from your team at the end of the month.
2. Be direct
Don’t beat around the bush with feedback. Radical Candor by Kim Scott is an excellent book that details how to give and receive feedback. It demonstrates through many Silicon Valley examples how managers that clearly show their team that they care enough to challenge directly empower people to perform better and achieve more.
Using Scott’s model to both give constructive criticism and offer praise will encourage more trust and better performance. Getting and giving negative feedback can feel uncomfortable in the moment but it builds better teams because if I can rely on you to have the hard, awkward conversations with me, then I will trust the good and positive ones even more.
Action: Watch this 16 minute talk by Kim Scott on Radical Candor and then this 3-minute video on giving constructive feedback using the SBI model and now, apply it.
3. Share the data
Don’t hide information. Share as much as you can with your reps – forecasts, targets and actuals, comparisons with last month and last year – as much as possible to give each rep an accurate sense of where they are. Remember to share information equally – no data privileges!
Action: Ask your team what data they want to know, why it’s important to them and how they would ideally like to access it.
4. Follow through
Do what you say you are going to do, and if for some reason you can’t, let them know why. Trust is built through consistent action.
Action: Share the data you said you would with your team.
These four actions if applied consistently and with care will increase the trust within your team. Commit to taking steps that build trust in your team each day. Ask yourself the question each time before you act: “Will this build or break trust?”
The outcomes of more trust will be increased productivity and more sales. Start today.