A Load Of Hoowie

My husband, Tom, and I were recently out to dinner with a group of friends. As we were waiting for the bill to be delivered, I slipped off to the restroom. Returning to my chair, the waiter leaned down and whispered in my ear, “Nice legs.” My reaction was extreme irritation—so much irritation that I said to my husband, “Do NOT leave him a good tip!”

Why would I react to a compliment in such a derogatory way? Because I have many, many, many wonderful traits, but good legs are not one of them. My reaction was due to betrayal. As silly as it may seem, I had trusted this waiter, even liked him, and then he had to go and hand me a load of hoowie.

The feelings I experienced are apparently common. In fact, according to Ogilvy and Mather, they are a trend. In their study Eyes Wide Open Wallet Half Shut, they found many shifts in consumer behavior. Specifically, Ogilvy and Mather found that Americans have become very distrustful, and we want to work with businesses that we trust.

Although most salespreneurs (entrepreneurs who sell) would say they are trustworthy, demonstrating this trait to a client is now critically important. Think about your own consumer behavior and the last person you hired. Why did you hire them?
I recently asked this question to a classroom full of people, and the results were predictable. They had all hired the person that they trusted even when they were more expensive. But one person tried a vendor, felt they were dishonest, fired them and immediately spread that information all over the Internet. Ouch! Whether they were dishonest or not was irrelevant; that person’s interpretation of events is now out there for the world to see. As a side note, you probably should set up a Google alert for your business name so that you will be notified if it appears out on the web (just Google “Google alert”).

What this means to you is shifting from “yes, I have always been trustworthy” to “trustworthiness is a principal of my business, and I carry out strategies that help clients experience that principal.” In other words, you must think proactively about how to demonstrate this trait constantly.

“How?” you might say? To trust your business a client has to believe you genuinely care about them and you are competent. There are three components to this effort:

  1. Marketing strategies (your messaging, slogans, communication, etc.)
  2. Carrying out your promises
  3. Interpersonal skills.

I’m going to talk about interpersonal skills.

There are several interpersonal skills that are needed to build trust. Because this blog is a blog not a book, I’m going to concentrate on one today…listening.

One of the biggest misconceptions I encounter when teaching sales skills is the idea that being a salesperson means talking…a lot. Nothing could be further from the truth. Good salespeople….no great salespeople understand being quiet and listening to their client helps them feel heard and special while also giving the salesperson a wealth of information not available if they were doing all the talking!

You may believe you are a good listener (and you may be) but look at these questions and consider…..

  • Do you start talking before the other person is finished?
  • Are you thinking about what your response while the other person is still talking?
  • Do you stop listening when you know what the other person is going to say?
  • Do you have difficulty with silence?

How did you do in this self-examination? Most salespeople don’t fare too well.

What changes can you make today?

Try an experiment. The next time you are with someone, wait just 5 seconds before you begin talking. How does silence feel? What did you notice?

Another interesting experiment is to close your eyes when talking with someone on the phone (obviously not while driving!). Notice how the distractions of your surroundings disappear and how much better you hear.

Start these two actions today, and you will be a better listener by the end of the week!