I was at lunch with some buddies last week and we got to talking about whether it’s better to be liked or trusted when it comes to business and sales. The obvious answer is that a combination of both is ideal, but if you had to pick one which would it be? Which would have the bigger impact on the buying decision for a client? Which would you put your faith, funds, or business success in the hands of? Clearly there is never a definite answer to questions like this because each buying environment, decision process, and impact is different, but here is what I took away from the conversation…

First it comes down to the product or service. If I’m buying a product, the trust factor is less important. IE buying a TV or even a simple as dinner plates. I don’t need to really trust someone to buy the product, because the inherent risk is lower and you’re truly buying the trust in the product. If you’re staring at the giant wall of TVs at Best Buy, how much you trust the guy manning that department is not really a deciding factor. You’re probably going to make a decision based on the value of the brand, features, size, and picture quality. If the Best Buy employee walks up and is super nice and knowledgeable, you’ll likely take advice from him, but your trust is in the brand, not the person.

Now let’s say you’re trying to find an investment banker. Whether or not I want to have a beer with the person is not as important as whether or not I trust him with my money. We all have those friends that you love being around and hanging out with, but you would not want to do business with. Obviously, you don’t want to deal with an asshole just because he is the best, so a certain balance is necessary in order to make the business relationship work. 

As a sales professional, the overall moral of the topic is this… No matter what you’re selling, don’t just tell people what you think they want to hear, because you will lose trust and creditability. Buyers are more informed now than ever before, and they know when you are full of shit. Even when they don’t like the answer, they appreciate you more when you give them the truthful answers that they can make informed decisions with. What I have found in over 15+ years in sales is that when I just act like someone I would want to buy from, I win more deals. When I pretend to be someone I’m not to match what I think my audience is expecting, I fail more. It’s that simple. The age-old saying “treat others like you want to be treated” works here. I am sure that if you were making an important decision, you would want an objective view of the pros and cons. That is all your clients want, and sometimes, if not all the time, that means telling them things that may cost you the sale, but the bigger win is that you gain their trust and become a valued asset. You will become the go-to person when your sphere of influence needs to hear the entire truth about something, and that holds way better value long term than telling someone what they want to hear when it isn’t completely true. They will find out, and you will lose all credibility. 

Loosing that trust only takes the following – 

Clients Private Conversation when you’re not completely transparent: 

“What do you mean it doesn’t have that feature?” 

“Why didn’t Mike tell me that when I asked him point blank? If he didn’t know for sure, he should have just told me and looked it up or something!”

“I mean, I like Mike, but I am not sure I can trust him anymore. I guess I will have to call Jeff next time. I don’t love working with Jeff, but he always tells me the truth.”

Client Conversation when you are completely transparent:

“Man, that really sucks it doesn’t have that feature. I swear it did, but I am glad Mike warned me!”

“That was really nice of him to point me in the right direction to one of his competitors that can help me”

“I owe Mike a big one and I will need to try to send him some business!!”

See how one client can turn into zero clients just as easily as it can turn into several? This is clearly a very subjective review on the topic and those client conversations could go 1000 different ways, but I’m sure you have either heard someone say those things or said it yourself at some point in your life. So, it may not happen all the time, but it does happen that way more often than it needs to!

Something my dad always said was – “It only takes one ‘ah shit’ moment to wipe out 10 ‘atta boys’”. 

Do more “atta boy” shit and avoid the”ah shit” moments!!!

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