Posted by: drewdice | August 1, 2010

Everyone thinks they have a good sense of humor

In speaking with a customer recently about why some sales professionals outperform others, he said “it is like senses of humor and telling jokes: sometimes, two people can tell the same joke, and when one tells it, it is funny, and when the other person tells it, it isn’t. Why is that? I don’t know. One is just funny, and the other isn’t”.

Some people would say it could be the delivery style, or body language, or tone of voice, or yet some other intangible quality that makes one funnier than another person. With sales professionals, many leaders also scratch their heads trying to figure out what makes some sales people better than others. Heck, there are entire firms built on the premise that they can help organizations figure it out. I’ll give you one of my personal critical success factors when it comes to consistent, high performaning sales professionals:


Just like senses of humor, most people think they have trusting relationships with prospects, customers and ambassadors. When polled, people rate themselves as more trustworthy than others they know (not surprising, right? I mean, do you actually know people who would confess that they are LESS trustworthy than others?)

The fact of the matter is, though, that many salespeople (and business leaders) do not have a rock solid foundation of trust upon which their relationships are built. It may be that business transactions are made, sometimes even large ones, but that does not guarantee that there is a trusting relationship. I’ll give you some of my key indicators that strong trust is in place.

– No fear of looking foolish: Let’s face it; we all have fears to face. In sales, sometimes there is fear, both on the side of the seller and the buyer, and this fear impacts the relationship. As the sales person, can you truly ask your prospect or customer for help, admit mistakes, confess that you don’t know the answer, or that your firm may actually not have the solution to the customer’s challenge? As a buyer, can your customer admit that she doesn’t have the authority to say yes or no, that your solution is too expensive or that she doesn’t see the value in what you offer? These are just some of the places to look to check the trust levels

– There is interaction beyond your products/services and surface dialogue: Outside of the traditional buyer/seller interactions, how often does your customer reach out to you for help with challenges not-at-all related to your services? From your customer’s point of view, are you truly a resource upon which she can count? How do you know? Reflect on how many selfless connections you have made for your customer to help her in ways that do not put money in your pocket. How often do you make calls, send emails and/or articles in regards to things that interest and are important to your customer, but again, have nothing to do with you getting direct business?

– Back door access: In the Pharmaceutical business, sales representatives aspire to have “back door” privileges, meaning they get access to the physicians that other sales reps don’t. Do you have this type of access to your customers? Do they take your calls, knowing that you will add value to their day, regardless of the day, time or what they have happening in their world? How often do you have to chase your customers, placing multiple calls and/or emails before connecting?

There are many other indicators of trust, and various “inputs” that can drive deeper levels of trust. As with most topics we discuss here, this also applies to more places in life than just the buyer-seller relationship. Take an honest look at these components to see where your relationships lie.

I’d love to hear your keys to trusting relationships. And don’t worry, I’m sure you do have a good sense of humor….




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