“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
– Stephen Covey
What do you sell? Maybe you sell a product, shoes, cars and stuff. Maybe you sell insurance or financial services. Maybe you fix computers. It doesn’t matter. It’s all an exchange of dollars for services.
Doctors sell their knowledge and expertise. So do lawyers. So do consultants, brand experts and coaches like me. We might think we’re a harder ‘sell’ because we deal in the intangible. What we do, you can’t wear, ride in, pick up or squeeze. Our value is based on results waiting to be seen. You gamble that a doctor may fix what ails you. That a lawyer will win the case. That the advice I give a client will lead to his success.
The truth is regardless of what we sell, people buy into you before they buy whatever you’re selling,be it hard goods or soft; so when you get right down to it, we all sell the same thing. We sell trust; and trust is about as intangible as you can get. When we earn it, actual sale becomes mere gravy. Our meat and potatoes is baked by trust.
Trust is difficult to define because it’s born of feeling. We ‘sense’ it first, and then give a name to what we feel and rationalize it in our heads, and if we can justify what we feel, we buy. But we also want to feel our trust is well placed. People want to be reassured that they’ve made the right decision, because if they’re mistaken, it would reflect poorly on their judgement.
So what does that mean for business? Stephen Covey defines trust simply: ” It is both character (who you are) and competence (your strengths and the results you produce). Trust is the enabling power of leadership influence. It is not soft, slow, risky , or easy. It is a measurable, definable component of all leadership success. It can be both taught and learned.”
Building trust takes time, both internally within a company, and externally, to the customers we serve through thoughtful, consistent actions. Although trusted ‘brand’ may conjure up feelings of strength and endurance, today, their reputations were built over time. By itself trust is fragile, and broken trust, is difficult to mend.