Trust and Integrity in Selling May Not Be What You Think

I know someone who is incredibly likable, always willing to help a friend, will help those in need, but will also manipulate situations to get what he wants.  He is likable and kind-hearted but sometimes low in integrity and I don’t always trust him.

I know someone else who has impeccable integrity.  His integrity is so strong that it makes him come across as self-righteous, pompous and surly.  He is not the least bit likable.  He could not be in sales because nobody would ever buy from him.  And despite his high integrity, I don’t trust him at all.

I’m trying to think of someone I know that is both unlikable and low in integrity and outside of the people we hear about in the news, I’m coming up empty.  I guess that’s a good thing!

Of course, as far as salespeople go, the holy grail is the salesperson who is both likable and has high integrity.  I believe there are significantly more salespeople in this sales category than the other three categories combined.  This may surprise people who are not in the sales professions because while salespeople constantly fight the stereotype of the snake oil salesperson, more often than not, it’s the prospects who lack integrity. They withhold information, bluff, play games, mislead salespeople and outright lie.  There.  I said it.

Last week I wrote an article about likable salespeople and to what degree their likability influences whether or not their prospects buy from them.  One of the questions I asked was whether or not likable and integrity are intertwined.  Also last week, Jonathan Farrington started a discussion in the Top Sales World LInkedIn group that asked if it was more important to be liked in order to win the business.  Most of the people that commented thought that trust and respect were more important.

Three years ago I published a White Paper on Where, When and Why Salespeople Aren’t Trusted.  I was very surprised about what I learned in doing the research for that paper not because there is more distrust of salespeople than I could have ever imagined in my worst nightmare, but because of which salespeople are the least trusted and why.

The thing that most people don’t get is that salespeople aren’t automatically trusted simply because they have high integrity.  Trust and Integrity are not the same.  We could wrongly trust someone with low integrity just as easily as we might not trust someone with high integrity.  Integrity is part of a saleperson’s Sales DNA while the ability to build or create trust is actually a skill.  The scary part of what I just wrote is that a person with low integrity can learn the skills required for building and creating trust.  The sad part of what I wrote is that a person with high integrity may not wish to develop the skills required for building and creating trust.

At Objective Management Group (OMG), our sales force evaluations and our sales candidate assessments both measure a salesperson’s integrity.  And when we look at their integrity, relationship building skills and likability, we begin to get a picture of their ability to create trust.  Because in the end, nobody will buy from a salesperson they don’t trust.

If you would like to find salespeople that not only can sell, but will sell, in your business and to your customer, and you want them to have integrity, be likable and trustworthy, check out the top sales candidate assessment for the past 4 consecutive years.