Building Relationships: “Honesty is the Best Policy”

31 Jan 13

Trust is critical to building relationships with your customers.

Mom was right: “Honesty is the best policy.” This is true in all aspects of life, including building relationships with your customers.

This point has been driven home in the world of sports over the past several weeks. First we had professional cyclist Lance Armstrong confessing to the world about doping during his years on the Tour de France. Then we had Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te’o acknowledge that he maintained the illusion of his dead girlfriend in the weeks after he received a call claiming that Lennay Kekua and her death were hoaxes. Now we have Alex Rodriguez (A-Rod) implicated in yet another performance-enhancing drug scandal.

People hate liars. So once trust has been broken, it is difficult to recover. This is because trust forms the foundation of all relationships, including sales relationships. When a customer trusts you, they place confidence in the information you provide them and the solutions you propose. So creating and maintaining trust with your customers is absolutely critical to building great relationships with your customers and successful selling.

Unlike fallen sports heroes who can go on the Oprah Winfrey show and beg the American public for forgiveness, sales people typically don’t get second chances to build trust. So sales professionals must always be mindful of engaging in behaviors that will build trust with customers.

Research has found that there are five factors that build trust:

  • Reliability – Be predictable. Do what you say you will do and then follow-through.
  • Honesty – This is apparent in the very way that you communicate. It’s okay to admit you don’t know an answer to a question. Just make sure you look people in the eye and always speak truthfully.
  • Responsiveness – Consider and act on the customer’s priorities in a timely manner. Being responsive and really letting the customer know you care will increase trust.
  • Objectivity – Give fair consideration to both sides of an issue, being/remaining empathetic and sensitive to the customer’s point of view.
  • Competence – Perform to expectation technically, personally, and in business. If you don’t know, don’t try and fake it. This can cost you all of the trust you have earned.

Being considerate of these five factors will help you build strong business relationships.


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