When I first began dating my wife, here was the conversation between her and her sister:
"What does he do?", her sister asked.
"He's in sales", my wife responded.
Those we are meeting with for the first time have established biases towards salespeople. Those biases have been formed through the ages - reinforced via upbringing, experiences as well as sources and individuals that they trust and respect.
(Gallup's annual most-to-least trusted professions list. And, per usual, salespeople & politicians are at the bottom)
One of our earliest survival mechanisms is trust. It’s been surmised that the first emotional bond developed as babies is trust - developing familiarity and comfort in our new world.
Trust is developed and earned, not self-anointed.
Its formation is built via consistency. As humans, we’re wired to predict. We’re wired to attempt to remove uncertainty from uncertain situations and environments. We’re trying to reach conclusions and control what we can control.
When meeting someone new, our brain makes a prediction. Every signal is then either building trust, or eroding it.
A mismatch between perception and action subconsciously erodes trust.
When I wrote the book, The Transparency Sale, more than a few people approached me to tell me how they embraced transparency in their selling efforts.
"I always start conversations with prospects by telling them that I pride myself on always being honest and transparent."
As salespeople, we have to EARN those designations.
As salespeople, we are assumed to be a certain way. When we attempt to influence a new relationship by self-labeling our trustworthiness, honesty and transparency, it is actually having the opposite effect…
...which then makes it more difficult to establish the desired trust!
Sales & Politics Converge
I noticed a really interesting case study in this dynamic in last week's elections.
On election day here in Illinois, one of the items on our ballot was “The Fair Tax”.
Politicians sat in a room, and decided to give what is actually a "graduated income tax" the name "The Fair Tax". And that was the beginning of the end.
By self-anointing a political policy as “fair”, one could predict that it would not pass before the first word was spoken of its contents.
And, sure enough, over 2.8 million Illinoisans voted NO, representing 55%, and it did not pass.
Do you think all of those people did their research first, and surmised that it would not be beneficial to the overall state economy? Probably not.
Sure, a certain percentage on both sides did their homework, and voted based on their conclusion. Sure, a lot of money was spent on advertising - on both sides. But in the end, the self-label of a political amendment impacting tax code as "fair" started the discussion in a hole.
When you self-label as a seller, you're doing the same thing.
Projecting a label on something before exhibiting behaviors that support the label is a miss-match for the brain, and as a result, can have the opposite effect if those self-labels are grandiose - like honesty and trust.
You’re either honest & trustworthy, or you’re not. Those traits are not self-anointed, they are earned.