Have you ever been in a situation where you have to make a decision and have done what research you can but realize that you really don’t know enough to make a knowledgeable choice?
(Photo credit: Paul Skeie)
For example, you might get asked by the auto mechanic if you want some work done and your knowledge of cars is limited to filling the gas tank. A doctor might give you choices about treatment options and while you might understand the plusses and minuses of each, in the back of your mind is a lingering thought that there must be some medical differences you don’t quite get.
When we’re in those situations, my thinking is that we wind up making one simple choice that’s the same in each case: do I trust the person with whom I’m dealing? Do I trust that the mechanic isn’t lying about the need to replace a valve spring since I can’t tell a good one from a bad one? Do I believe this dentist when he says I need to replace an old filling before it become a problem? In those cases we’re not buying the service – we’re buying the seller. We’re choosing to believe both that they have understood a problem you’re having and that they have the specific knowledge to solve it in the manner they’re describing. It’s a leap of faith.
That’s a critical business point that we often forget. When someone show up late to a meeting I trust them less. When their materials contain typos or hyperbole, I’m less willing to leap with them. Being successful in earning trust is a significant factor in a businesses overall success. That trust is what permits an occasional error (think of a restaurant you frequent that’s having a bad night due to missing servers, etc.). When your potential customers or clients or partners feel as if you have your own interest at heart and not theirs, you’re toast.
People buy the seller as much as they do the product. The more complex the decision, the more that holds true. What we need to do is to ask ourselves if we’re earning that trust or if we’re just pushing a product. What’s your answer?
I’ve written a number of times here on the screed about the subject of trust. Most of the time I’ve written about how consumers need to trust the sources from which they receive marketing messages or the sources from which they get information. Today I want to make it more personal but probably more important as well.
Each of us relies on other people to do business. I’ve found that one of the most important factors in that process is trust.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In fact, I used to tell new employees that the only way they could get into serious trouble with me was if they did something that caused me to lose the trust I was going to give them unconditionally. I was on their side until they proved that my trust was misplaced. Lie to me just once – cause me to doubt that they were giving me the facts and all the information about a topic – and our relationship would be severely damaged, maybe irreparably. I feel that way about business partners too.
I’ve dealt with people who I knew were holding back information. Sometimes it was more a feeling than probably was warranted. Several times it turned out to be a huge problem, as a meeting would take an ugly turn based on information that had been withheld but ultimately surfaced. Often it’s because they didn’t want to give anyone bad news despite them hearing that bad news is just another situation we need to work through together as partners. When someone finds reasons to delay a conversation or slows down a deal, my early warning system would go off. It still does.
I’ve been told from time to time that I’m hard to deal with because I’m very open and blunt. I’m told I’m a pleasure to deal with for the very same reasons. On the whole, transparency seems to work. It fosters trust although I’m the first to admit that over the years I’ve had to learn to be more tactful. I think folks with whom I’ve worked would tell you a lot of things about me but one thing they probably won’t say is that I hide the truth or obfuscate the facts. That’s about trust in my mind.
On a simple level it’s about someone doing what they say they will do. On a larger level it’s about them being who they say they are. You with me?