“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” —Warren Buffett
In a brilliant piece on first impressions, Amy Cuddy outlined that 2 judgements are made when parties meet for the first time:
Can I Trust This Person?
Can I Respect This Person’s Capabilities?
As Cuddy deems trust most important, let’s dissect this attribute and why it genuinely needs to be a part of your sales arsenal. On the surface, we can begin to develop this by letting the other party speak first, using positive body language, and actively listening. However, I’m more concerned with what effect trust has on the brain and why this matters to us in sales.
To understand trust and it’s hold on the brain we need to start with oxytocin, a brain chemical that facilitates teamwork. Focusing on this attribute initially not only creates a culture of trust within the relationship, but increases empathy, another by product of oxytocin that will benefit both parties. As trust and purpose reinforce each other, you can expect higher productivity, better quality negotiations, and of course increased profitability. From Silicon Valley to the rain forest in Papua New Guinea, the relationship between oxytocin and trust is universal.
So let’s take a look at some actionable ideas on how we can leverage trust in our relationships, meetings, and future correspondence:
Staying Away From Abbreviated Forms of Communication – Being trusted in today’s fast paced market means you stand out. It means amongst the swarm of unsolicited emails and tagged social media posts, your message resonates with the prospect or customer on a deeper level. To achieve and maintain this, adopt more meaningful communication methods like formal annual reviews, direct phone calls, or even FaceTime, once the relationship has been formed to give you and the client both a greater chance of nurturing a long term professional relationship.
Clarity In Purpose & Goals of Relationship – Think about the dreaded words “…well how come you never told me that in the beginning?” Nothing builds trust like clarity and nothing tarnishes it quicker than coming off as deceitful because it appears you could have disclosed more information up front. As you work to tailor your approach around solving the customer or client’s biggest problem, leaders need to make sure there are check-ins along the sales process to confirm the direction both parties are moving in and ensure progress on the solution.
Recognize Excellence – A great way to continue solidifying trust is recognition. Convey to the client that without their openness and professionalism throughout the growth of the relationship, the resulting business and fulfilling partnership would not exist. Tangible, unexpected, personal, and public recognition accomplishes this and has the largest effect when occurring after a goal is met. Two examples would include thanking key influencers in the final email thread that closes the deal or giving a toast to the client at a dinner.
This neuro association is evolutionarily old (see Reptilian Brain) which means that the trust and social spike in teamwork are deeply embedded in our nature. The challenge is that the Reptilian Brain is self-centered or “me-centric“, so trust is essential to even fully engage your prospect or client when first meeting. You need to convey “I think you are worth my time” effectively, immediately, and consistently. This is why leveraging clarity in the purpose early on is so effective. Both parties working towards solving the established problem will release oxytocin and other neuro chemicals that intensify focus and strengthen social connections – effects on the brain I alluded to earlier. Use this standard with every prospect you interact with initially, not after you determine they have the volume needed to help you meet your quota. Simple shift in awareness. Big results. Good luck in the field.