Trust and Integrity in Selling May Not Be What You Think

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 @ 08:07 AM


I know someone who is incredibly likable, is always willing to help a friend, will help those in need, but will also manipulate situations to get what he wants.  He is likable and kind-hearted but sometimes low in integrity and I don't always trust him.

I know someone else who has inpeccable integrity.  His integrity is so strong that it makes him come across as self-righteous, pompous and surly.  He is not the least bit likable.  He could not be in sales because nobody would ever buy from him.  And despite his high integrity, I don't trust him at all.

I'm trying to think of someone I know that is both unlikable and low in integrity and outside of the people we hear about in the news, I'm coming up empty.  I guess that's a good thing!

Of course, as far as salespeople go, the holy grail is the salesperson who is both likable and has high integrity.  I believe there are significantly more salespeople in this sales category than the other three categories combined.  This may surprise people who are not in the sales professions because while salespeople constantly fight the stereotype of the snake oil salesperson, more often than not, it's the prospects who lack integrity. They withhold information, bluff, play games, mislead salespeople and outright lie.  There.  I said it.

Last week I wrote an article about likable salespeople and to what degree their likability influences whether or not their prospects buy from them.  One of the questions I asked was whether or not likable and integrity are intertwined.  Also last week, Jonathan Farrington started a discussion in the Top Sales World LInkedIn group that asked if it was more important to be liked in order to win the business.  Most of the people that commented thought that trust and respect were more important.

Three years ago I published a White Paper on Where, When and Why Salespeople Aren't Trusted.  I was very surprised about what I learned in doing the research for that paper not because there is more distrust of salespeople than I could have ever imagined in my worst nightmare, but because of which salespeople are the least trusted and why.

The thing that most people don't get is that salespeople aren't automatically trusted simply because they have high integrity.  Trust and Integrity are not the same.  We could wrongly trust someone with low integrity just as easily as we might not trust someone with high integrity.  Integrity is part of a saleperson's Sales DNA while the ability to build or create trust is actually a skill.  The scary part of what I just wrote is that a person with low integrity can learn the skills required for building and creating trust.  The sad part of what I wrote is that a person with high integrity may not wish to develop the skills required for building and creating trust.

At Objective Management Group (OMG), our sales force evaluations and our sales candidate assessments both measure a salesperson's integrity.  And when we look at their integrity, relationship building skills and likability, we begin to get a picture of their ability to create trust.  Because in the end, nobody will buy from a salesperson they don't trust.

If you would like to find salespeople that not only can sell, but will sell, in your business and to your customer, and you want them to have integrity, be likable and trustworthy, check out the top sales candidate assessment for the past 4 consecutive years.


Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, Trust of Salespeople, integrity, sales selection

Trust in Selling is Becoming More Important Than Ever

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 26, 2014 @ 10:02 AM

trustI loved this short, but perfect post from Seth Godin's Blog last week.  It's about the importance of trust.  Please read it before proceeding.  It's also very consistent with the late Steven Covey's philosophy as related in his book, The Speed of Trust.

Trust is becoming more important than ever.  Companies are focusing more on integrity and values, and that's from both sides of the door.  They are looking for salespeople, vendors, suppliers, partners and trusted advisors who have strong integrity.  And they are also hiring the people (in this case, salespeople) who are deemed to be of a higher integrity.  Trustworthy is the operative word here.

There are certainly companies and people that don't measure up when it comes to the high integrity profile and that is what makes prospects so skeptical.  Bad experiences.  It only takes one shoplifter for a retailer to install a video surveillance system and/or detectors, lock their display cases, hide their merchandise and distrust all of its customers.  Just one bad apple is all it takes to ruin it for everyone.

Yesterday, we had an internal conversation about our website, collateral, videos, blog articles, white papers, emails and of course, phone calls and face-to-face visits.  The question of the day was, "Do potential clients trust us when they don't really know us that well?"  

We wondered aloud whether credibility and trust were really the same thing, related, or completely separate conclusions.  Personally, I believe they are separate.  I believe that someone could be credible as an expert, yet still not be completely trustworthy.  I also believe that we could meet someone who was completely worthy of our trust, but not be completely credible as an expert.  Separate issues.  The problem is that many companies lump these two issues together and assume that if they are credible, they have built trust.  Here's something for you to consider.  Let me know if you agree with my definitions.  I believe that credibility is an earned, time-tested, combination of experience, expertise and success in a specific field or subject matter.  I believe that trustworthiness is the ability to convey personal values and integrity through words, body language and actions.  Do you agree?

You can have all of the latest systems, processes, tools, and applications, along with the best products and services.  But if your prospects don't trust you, your intentions, your company, your promises or your eagerness, they won't buy from you.

I would like to remind you of a white paper on trust that I published a couple of years ago.  I conducted a study and we got some incredible, eye-popping data, that shows who trusts whom, by industry, and exactly when and why salespeople are distrusted.  It's a must-read.  You can download it right here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales, trust, Seth Godin, integrity, steven covey, salespeople

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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