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by Charles H. Green

McGraw-Hill © 2006, 265 pages, $27.95 (ISBN 0-07-146194-9).

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Using Customer Focus and Collaboration to Build Long-Term Relationships

Sales expert Charles H. Green is on a mission to plant the fruitful idea of trust in the field of sales. With a set of skills and techniques for battling the skepticism and fear that buyers often feel when facing salespeople, Green cultivates the habits and behaviors that can create higher levels of customer trust.

Green points out that if you are going to buy something, you are more likely to buy it from somebody you trust. Starting with the premise that behaving in a trustworthy manner while making a sale creates trust and increases the chances of closing, Green shows how this idea can be a powerful basis for improved sales. His trust-based selling method for establishing truly caring, trust-based relationships follows five main ideas:

1. Trust-based selling means doing business in such a way that you are worthy of the customer’s trust. You must be trustworthy.

2. Trust-based selling is personal. Buying decisions are more than just rational and calculating.

3. Trust-based selling at its core is not seller-centric — it’s buyer based. Help the buyer do the right thing — for the buyer.

4. Trust-based selling rests on a paradox: if you can give up trying to control or maximize profit from customers, you increase your influence and profit. You have to sincerely care.

5. Trust-based selling is samples selling. Trust is earned by example. People are buying the product and the seller when they buy complex intangible services.

Green writes that it’s all about establishing a relationship: Getting the sale is secondary to making sure the customer succeeds. He adds that the one reason for a buyer to trust a seller is if the buyer believes that the seller has the buyer’s best interests at heart. The point of the whole process is to help the buyer. He writes that there is a paradox at work here: By establishing real trust and giving up on trying to get more sales, you will get more sales because you “can’t fake trust.” He writes, “Relationships nurture transactions; but focusing on transactions alone destroys relationships.”

Trust Creation

How is trust created? Green presents a simple primer on the steps that it takes to build the trust needed to be seen as trustworthy. First, he writes, a salesperson must engage and understand what the customer values and be prepared to discuss one of those issues. Then the salesperson must listen to the themes and issues that are important to the customer. Next, the salesperson must frame the issue and boil it down to a statement to which both the seller and customer agree. Finally, the salesperson and the seller must envision how things will look if the issue is resolved, and take action in a way to which both parties agree.

Live the Principles

After a thorough analysis of how buyers buy, the value of trust in the sales process, as well as a deep description of what trust truly is, Green describes a trust-based selling method that depends on attitudes and values that are based on a set of principles. He writes that the trust creation process can be applied to all the steps in traditional sales process models. By looking at the relationship from the perspective of the customer, collaborating, adopting a long-term perspective and being transparent, salespeople can develop the right motives, objectives and mindsets to create the relationships that lead to more sales.

Green presents many ways that sellers can stay client-focused, including: going to customer meetings prepared, letting the customer drive the conversation, being curious, asking open-ended questions and listening. To become more transparent, he explains, salespeople should talk about price early on, answer questions directly, invite the client to their offices, say so when they don’t know something and never lie.

Through the real-life stories of salespeople in the field and their experiences in a broad range of industries, Green makes his profound point clear: The best relationships between customers and salespeople (and ultimately all people) come from acting sincerely from our humanity, not from numbers and statistics. Green shows salespeople how to take the risk of behaving in a trustworthy manner with no guarantee that it will garner a sale. He explains that for “customers to trust you, you must trust them as well.” ~

Why We Like This Book

The behaviors that create trust in relationships is a fascinating topic that has broad applications to selling and creating profitable customers. By putting trust in its proper place in front of traditional selling methods, Trust-Based Selling offers salespeople a simple tool that can have long-term benefits. Green also reveals the behaviors that reduce trust such as over-measurement, and describes how these bad habits can be curbed. ~

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