It doesn’t seem that long ago that I “bit the bullet” and agreed to adding an extension onto my home. A new room, a remodeled kitchen, and more. Financially, it was a frightening step, but the wife and I crunched the numbers several times in several ways and agreed that we could pull it off.
Within weeks, half of our home was torn apart, the other half lay in chaos. Almost everything we owned was packed into boxes and piled up in the remaining “usable” rooms, cutting floorspace in half. Dust lay everywhere from sanding, cutting and spackling, We couldn’t cook. We had no heat. It was a nightmare.
Well, it seemed like a nightmare. I kept reminding myself that it wasn’t the end of the world. Many had it worse. We still had a bed to sleep in and Taco Bell. I really enjoyed eating Taco Bell. Then, one day, I noticed the scales had tipped out of my favor I had paid out a lot of money…but there wasn’t a lot of work getting done.
And to make matters worse, the contractor became slower and slower with replies to texts and emails. Deadline promises were made and then broken. Answers became excuses. It really was a nightmare. Did I really think he was going to take my money and leave for the Bahamas. I guess way way way down inside I didn’t. But was I confident that he wouldn’t? No. Did I trust him? No.
A Matter of Trust
That, my friends, is the Golden Rule of Sales. Sales is not separate from Customer Service. Customer Service is not a separate department. It’s not a perk and it’s not privilege.
We talk all the time about how Salespeople need to solve problems and build trust. Building Trust does not end when the sale is taken. It does not end when the check is cashed. It does not end when the month-end numbers are tallied.
Building Trust is a constant and on-going process for the lifetime of the relationship with the customer. It works for and against you. You need to remember this. When trust is high, customers give referrals. They order more. They speak highly of you. I’ve had happy customers come to my booth at a trade show and tell other attendees how much they love me and my software.
But when trust is low, customers do more than ‘get upset’. They speak negatively of you to anyone who will listen. Small issues get blown up into big Issues. Misunderstandings get misconstrued as lies. If I can only solve part of your problem, but you trust me, you might still do business with me. If I can solve all of your problems, but you don’t trust me, you’ll never do business with me.
If Sales is the lifeblood of the business, Trust is the oxygen. You need both, and you need both all the time. And I’ll tell you what as hard as it is to keep bringing in new sales, its even harder to repair a bad reputation. To recapture lost trust. There are restaurants, stores and theaters I’ll never go to again because I had a bad experience and I don’t “trust” that it will be better next time.
The saddest part about all this is that its relatively easy to keep high trust…if you are willing to.You need to communicate promptly and honestly. People would rather be told an uncomfortable truth than catch you in a pleasant lie. Little white lies grow up to be big ugly lies. Put the truth out there, immediately.
“Your shipment is going to be late.”
“I entered this order wrong.”
“I misunderstood you and when I called you back you weren’t there so I wanted to wait to talk to you.”
How many times have you said to someone, “Ok, I’m glad you told me this.” A lot, right? Maybe it chipped off a part of the sale, but it saved the sale. Communicate promptly and honesty and take responsibility. Customers want to know that they won’t have to pay for an error you made. I mean this literately and figuratively. I once entered an order wrong, and it wasn’t going to ship on time. So I paid out of my own pocket to overnight the goods.
I took ownership of a small problem, to prevent a larger problem. And as a result, the customer “trusted” that when we said a product would arrive on time it would. Trust is personal. Trust is forever.
If you don’t believe in karma, at least believe in capital. Trust is capital. It’s an important asset. Give your customers every reason to trust you not only at the beginning of the sale cycle, but all throughout it and well after it. You might be pleasantly surprised but how that trust pays off. Or frightened by a surprise of how it bites you the end. Trust me.
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