There’s a great scene in the first Matrix movie. Neo turns to Morpheus and says “I know Kung Fu” and Morpheus replies “Show me.” They are then transported (metaphorically speaking) to a virtual dojo where Morpheus goes on to explain to Neo “This is a sparring program, similar to the programmed reality of the Matrix. It has the same basic rules, rules like gravity. What you must learn is that these rules are no different than the rules of a computer system. Some of them can be bent. Others can be broken.”
Like Neo many in sales have learned there are rules that can be bent or even broken in order to achieve what may at first seem like success, but of course it isn't. Although you may have succeeded in 'making a sale' you may have lost the relationship. It’s illusionary and those feelings of ‘success’ achieved at the expense of others are fleeting. However the stain on your reputation most certainly is not.
When you set out to build a sales career your single most important task is the building of reputation; and as Bob Burg and John David Mann write in Go-Givers Sell More “Reputation is a house that once burned down is very difficult to rebuild.”
However if you diligently construct your reputation on the foundation of what Bob calls ‘The Golden Rule’ of sales, of business of networking. You will cultivate a flourishing reputation and the influence it generates will reach way beyond the people you meet and touch the lives of people you have not yet met. The golden rule goes like this:
“All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”
In sales your job really is to meet new people on an everyday, ongoing basis, in a way that’s comfortable both for you and for them and cultivate and develop relationships with these people to the point that they feel so good about you; they know you, they like you, they trust you, they want to see you succeed.
Why is “know, like and trust” so important; so vital to sales and business success?
Well, the know part is obvious. People have to know you, or at least know of you, or at least of your company, in order to do business with you. What about like. Do they have to like you? Here is where the disclaimer, “all things being equal comes into play.
If you’re the ONLY game in town; the only person in your field or your area that provides your product or service and that person, for whatever reason, feels they have to have it or can’t live without it, then no, they don’t have to like you. They’ll do business with you anyway. However, there are three challenges with that:
- You’re not the only game in town. None of us are.
- They will only do business with you until someone else comes along who provides what you provide, or at least close enough to it, and who they like.
- You’re a good person, and you want to like those you serve, and you want them to like you.
Likeability is indeed very, very important. Check out Dr. Robert Cialdini’s landmark book, Influence: Science and Practice, for a more detailed exploration of this subject. In summary Dr Cialdini discusses the six main reasons why people will buy from someone, follow someone, join someone, etc. He talks about one of those six as being “likeability.” Plainly and simply, people will do things with and for people they like. As human beings, we put on pedestals the people we like even when it’s not deserved. People impute high character traits to people who perhaps don’t possess them because they like them.
Indeed, both know and like are important.
And, then there’s “trust.” I’ll leave this last one down to the way you answer this question. How many of you would agree with the following statement: “We currently live in what, could be called, a ‘low-trust society’?”
Bob has been asking this question at practically every program he has delivered over many years and whether the audience is 50 people, 500 people, 5000 people, or 15,000 people, the response is ALWAYS the same. Practically everyone in the audience raises their hands that we live in a low-trust society, and a couple of people feel we live in a high-trust society. It’s not a matter of being right or wrong, or even that people are any more or any less trustworthy than they ever were. What it does say is that the perception is that we absolutely do live in a low-trust society.
In a low-trust society, that person who can quickly and effectively communicate trust; their trustworthiness; their worthiness of being trusted, is nine steps ahead of the game in a ten-step game. Remember, it’s not enough just to be trustworthy; most people actually are. The key is to be able to communicate this trustworthiness.
So, there we have it, all things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.
Of course none of this can happen unless you're able to shift your focus. It's only when you can take your eyes off of yourself, your products or your services, and focus like a laser on adding value to your customers that you can begin to to elicit those know you, like you, trust you feelings toward you in others.
Ian J Lowe is the Founder & CEO of eccoh, a sales transformation, coaching and consulting organisation offering a unique culture-defining philosophy and framework that makes giving value the cornerstone of a refreshingly open and authentic approach to selling.
Image Credit: The Matrix, Warner Bros 1999