In Sales We Trust

By Cindy Waxer

According to Gregory Smith, author of Here Today, Here Tomorrow: Transforming Your Workforce from High-Turnover to High-Retention (Dearborn Trade, 2001), lack of trust in the workplace has become a bigger problem than ever before. The economic downturn and corporate scandals, he says, have shaken the faith that salespeople once had in their colleagues and managers. Smith offers these tips for maintaining a high level of trust within your sales organization.

1. Your personal life is your public life. Your personal life reflects who you really are. Smith believes: “What you do in your private life is your private life as long as it doesn’t affect your ability to lead and manage others on the job.” If you are in a leadership position, your personal life is open to scrutiny. Your ability to lead others will increase if people respect you.

2. Do what you say you will do. How many times has someone told you: I’ll get back to you on that – then never followed up? Don’t make promises you can’t or won’t keep. According to Smith: “If you say: Give me seven days to get back to you, you better do what you say otherwise you damage your credibility.” Trust breaks down when promises are broken.

3. Tell the truth all the time. The worst thing you can do is to not be open and honest with people. Trying to hide information will always catch up with you. Tell people everything they need to know, even if it’s bad news. It’s better to say too much than too little. Smith warns: “If people find out that you did lie to them about something, then you’ve really shot yourself in the foot.”

4. Treat people as equals. Because of the Enron scandal, there is more pressure on boards and executives to give all employees the same privileges normally reserved for executives. Privileges and perks also are under greater scrutiny by both the media and the rank and file. Smith advises: “As a leader, you have to treat people equally and give everybody an opportunity to shine.”

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