A trust-building framework for B2B sales. – by John Cousineau

Trust affects team performance. When people trust each other, they’re more productive. Research shows staff at high-trust companies, compared with low-trust companies, are: 74% less stressed, 50% more productive, 106% more energized, and 76% more engaged.

Paul Zak’s resulting, science-based, framework for building trust is, in my view, a healthy blueprint for improving trust in B2B sales organizations. And thereby improving results. “It’s not about being easy on your employees or expecting less from them. High-trust companies hold people accountable but without micromanaging them. They treat people like responsible adults.”

Zak’s keys to building trust, with my annotated observations for B2B sales organizations:

1/ Focus on Making Progress: “Of all the things that motivate a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work. And the more frequently people experience that sense of progress, the more likely they are to be productive in the long run.” Know what progress looks like. Measure it. Personalize it. Look for patterns. Learn from what you see and discover. The above data are an example. They show what one team saw, discovered, and improved in one month. In terms of better results from better practices. By the end of the month, they were getting a little better, day-to-day on most of the little things that matter in Bus Dev [notice how much green they were seeing]. An example: by the end of that month, they were learning notable things IN 32% of all conversations [up from 8% a month earlier].

2/ Recognize Excellence: “recognition has the largest effect on trust when it occurs immediately after a goal has been met, when it comes from peers, and when it’s tangible, unexpected, personal, and public.” Have daily scrums. Celebrate personal victories. Learn from those victories as a team

3/ Give People Discretion: “Once employees have been trained, allow them to execute in their own way. Being trusted to figure things out is a big motivator. Use oversight and risk management to minimize negative deviations. Use debriefs to share positive deviations so that others can build on their success.” Promote self-improvement with self-awareness. Know what variance in results and practices looks like. Then learn from it. With more honest dialogues. Informed by analytics.

4/ Share Info Openly: “Organizations that share their ‘flight plans’ with employees reduce uncertainty about where they are headed and why.” When it’s clear why you’re doing the work you’re doing, it’s easier to invest needed efforts. When the progress you’re making to the results you’re seeking is clear for everyone to see, more gets learned and improved.

5/ Team-build: “When people care about one another, they perform better because they don’t want to let their teammates down.” Celebrate victories of ‘we’, not just ‘me’.

6/ Be Vulnerable: “Leaders in high-trust workplaces ask for help from colleagues instead of just telling them to do things.” Don’t have the answer. Seek it out. Involve everyone in the pursuit of a better understanding what needs fixing and what might fix it.


About John Cousineau:

As President + Founder of innovativeinfo.com, John’s leading efforts to improve B2B sales productivity via new analytics on sales performance. Amacus is his firm’s award-winning selling solution. Imagine what you’d like to know, if you could, about sales performance. That’s what Amacus is working on.

John’s spent over 35 years innovating with information in ways that accelerate business performance. John’s niche is designing uses of technology and information that get people faster to the value creating parts of their daily routines.

InsideView has rated John as one of the top sales industry social media users and one of the top 25 influential leaders in sales.

John’s  blog on Informed Innovations in B2B Sales Productivity offers a running commentary on things he’s learning from the sales practices of his clients, sales insights of his firm’s partners, and sales analytics of Amacus.


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