Over the weekend, I was sitting on the couch, catching up on my reading while my kids were playing the Nintendo Switch.
I got to thinking...one of the things that makes the selling profession so much fun is how every engagement is a little different, and it’s like a video game:
🔳 There’s a journey we need to go on. The path is frought with twists and turns, enemies and mines trying to knock us off, and if we fall off, we lose.
🔳 To get to the finish line, we have to collect a certain number of points, or In some games, it's to collect a certain number of coins.
That’s the game of sales.
fig 1. My crude cartoon representation of Mario Bros. in a sales process 🤪
The journey is the sales & buying process.
When we fall off, it’s the equivalent of our prospects choosing for the status quo, or choosing for a competitor.
The coins? There are two types:
The "Certainty Coin" (C)
When we're making a purchase of a product or service of substance, we are driven by an internal desire to predict. We are trying to forecast to a level of certainty in our expectation of the result of a purchase.
Will this do what I expect it to?
Will the results of the purchase have the impact I'm hoping for - recognition, validation, autonomy, purpose, fitting in, etc.
Is the juice going to be worth the squeeze? Is the amount of resource, time and dollars worth the investment in terms of the resulting personal and professional value that will result?
When considering where a buyer spends their time, according to this study done by Gartner, just 39% of their buying journey is spent talking to you, your competitors (17%) or their internal buying team (22%). The rest - 61% - is spent doing other stuff...backchannelling you, checking references, talking to peers, reading analyst reports, looking at reviews, and trying to fill in their CERTAINTY picture.
As we're playing the game of selling, we're trying to collect as many customer "CERTAINTY" coins as we can.
The "Trust Coin" (T)
The 61% described above is not a foregone conclusion! The 61% of the buying journey where the buyer is backchanneling you - searching beyond the claims of you and your organization, as well as your competitors, does not have to be assumed reality.
When there is a lack of trust, we drive buyers to do that additional homework.
Think about it. When you truly trust the individual or organization making a recommendation, you will more often take them for their word. You will less often feel the need to go do more homework. You will reach a decision in favor of that recommendation faster.
So, in the game of sales, the TRUST coin is worth more than a CERTAINTY coin, and it contains an accelerant!
It doesn't take much to realize that trust plays an important role in any sales process, right?
However, we tend to spend the bulk of our personal development time on:
1) Finding the Power Button : If we can't get into the game, there's no game to be won - so as a result, a large percentage of the content many consume in the name of personal and professional development is focused on "prospecting". I don't quarrel with that - it's for good reason.
2) Collecting the CERTAINTY coins: We expend a great deal of time on developing our skills to take buyers through the journey, learning how to position our solutions, how to effectively do discovery and qualification, how to present and demo, and how to negotiate.
So, almost 100% of our learning and personal development time is spent on just 2/3rd's of the game - getting it started, and collecting the CERTAINTY coins. But what about the magic TRUST coins?
Collecting TRUST Coins...Faster!
How often are we taking the time to learn how to collect the magic TRUST coins? How much effort are we expending to learn how the buying brain engages, prioritizes, decides and buys, the role trust plays in that process, and how to build it?
There's a reason why, when shopping online, 96%+ of us invest time in reading reviews before making a purchase of something we haven't bought before.
But most importantly, there's a reason why negative reviews work when a website is acting as a salesperson. There's a reason why 85% of us seek out the negative reviews of a product first - and don't just read the 5-star reviews.
It helps the buyer to predict.
It helps build trust.
At that phenomenon has very little to do with whether we're selling on a website, or in a human-to-human/B2B environment, and has everything to do with how we as human beings buy!
When we, in a human-to-human selling environment, lead with transparency, trust is built - collecting those coins faster, certainty is accelerated - collecting those coins faster, and we reach the winners flag faster and more often.
Sales cycles shrink. Win rates go up. We qualify deals IN faster that we should win - and qualify deals OUT faster that we're bound to lose anyway - allowing us to spend more time on the right opportunities. And, we make it more difficult on those pesky competitors trying to knock us off the journey.
With every interaction, you are either building trust...or eroding trust.
When considering the interaction you have with a prospect or customer, and investing your time in skill-building, is trust on your radar? Considering those TRUST coins are worth more, and contain the journey accelerant you need to maximize your results, it probably should be...right?
What do you think? Does this analogy resonate? Do you prioritize your understanding of trust in the buying journey?