A powerful exploration of trust in sales with Dr. Mark Hollyoake

Dr. Mark Hollyoake, Founder, Director & Head of Business Capability at Customer Attuned, joined Regional Host Dr. Jeremy Noad to discuss trust in sales. These insights come from Dr. Hollyoake’s real-world experiences and his doctoral work on the topic.

Sales must make themselves more vulnerable to their buyers. Over time, through abilitycredibility, and the way we work together, you must create mutual value. Developing trust takes time.

The role of sales is to mitigate and reduce risk in the relationship as they work with individual customers.

This conversation was an extraordinary exploration of the topic of trust in sales.

Give a listen and remain curious.

Audio Transcript

Dr. Jeremy Noad
So Hello, and welcome to this edition of the coffee collaboration and enablement podcast. I’m your host, Jeremy node. And in this episode, we’re talking about trust in the sales relationship and how to enable it with the wonderful, cultured, intelligent, Dr. Mark holyoake. Hi, Mark, thank you for coming on the podcast today.

Unknown Speaker
Hi, Dr. Jay. That was very, yes. That was a succinct introduction. Thank you. Yeah. And, yeah, thank you for the offer. And, and happy to share some of my, some of my thoughts on on the subject.

Dr. Jeremy Noad
Excellent. So before we get started, Joanna, tell us a little bit about yourself and the business you you’re working?

Dr Mark Hollyoake
Yeah, cool. Okay. Um, well, I, I actually have a career in sales and commercial management. That really started by carrying the bag for associated biscuits, many, many, many years ago. And that now dates me. So my first company car was a Vauxhall Viva for anybody out there that remembers the Vauxhall Viva. And subsequently, I’ve had, I’ve had really good career in sales that’s moved me into commercial management, and then into consultancy. And to be honest with you last year was pretty epic. And not from the pandemic perspective. Because not only did I gain my doctorate, which I’m going to share with you in a minute, but I also gained my karate black belt. And then we went into lockdown. So that was pretty, pretty awesome. And then. And then I do, really, to two things. I’m, I’m the founder and director of a customer management consultancy. But I also I also lecture for the University of the West of England, in Bristol. So that’s sort of a little bit about a little bit about.

Dr. Jeremy Noad
Okay, cool. Thank you for thanks for your time today. So you mentioned what the core What we want to talk about. And I think, for me, it’s a perennial thing is now he goes back to all the sort of characterization about sales, people in a used car salesperson. And it’s about trust, do I trust the person that I’m going to have this commercial relationship with? So you’ve sort of studied this in that? So tell us what you find about trust and why it’s important in a commercial relationship?

Dr Mark Hollyoake
Yeah, that’s, this is a really, it’s been really fascinating. Jeremy and I know that, you know, you and I have spoken many times around the around the, my academic research and the academic journey, because you when you’ve been on it yourself, and I think for me trust in sales, and the whole sort of role of sales in its enablement. Is this two, this two parts really, and one of it is we need to go go back and look at the definition of what is trust in a business to business context, to identify the role, the role of sales in that? And if so, if you think about it, what is trust in a, in a b2b context? Well, I’m going to, from a business perspective, I’m going to make I’m gonna make, I’m gonna make myself vulnerable to the other side and on the basis of our actions are, are based on an interpretation of your ability, credibility, and the way we work together to create mutual value. And if we’re going to do that, we’re going to do that over time. So say, for me, it’s about the initially the role of sales is in that is in that mitigation of the vulnerability. So if I’m going to make myself vulnerable to the other side of sales, sales, the role of sales is in the is in the is less of a leap of faith in terms of of making that move. And it’s more a small step, because because the role of sales is to hold your hand into from the intention into the reality of of of working. Again, I don’t I don’t think actually a lot of sales people think about that and spend enough time thinking about their role within the relationship. They think they’re out there. to, you know, to, to get another to get another notch on the bedpost, you know, to, to, to hit those numbers. But actually, if they’re thinking about the relationships that they’re trying to develop over time, that’s what they’re doing. And that’s quite a, that’s quite a core role in terms of relationship development and how they manage that. So for me, that’s to some extent, the role of sales in mitigating and reducing the risk within the relationship making it easy for people to transition from an intention into doing business. Okay. And then you just work a smart, hard, smart, awesome, so answer, how do you do that? If I’m a salesperson? How do you do that? Well, it starts for me really around the intention? So what’s my purpose with this relationship? what’s the what’s my intention with this particular customer? And what are my expectations out of this? What, what do I think is the mutual value that can be gained and how can I share that with the other side, so that we’ve got an understanding that there’s that there’s, there’s something that’s worth the actualization, and that’s a key, I think that’s part of the key role of, of sales is to demonstrate the opportunity that exists within the relationship. And, and at that stage, it’s really, it’s still intangible. So we could say some great stuff to each other, you know, we could, we can, we can talk to the cows, GM come home. And at that stage, it’s still in, it’s still intangible, I call it intangible trust.

Dr Mark Hollyoake
And, and often, often, this is where it falls down. And, and this is what another key part of the sales, the sales role within the within the within the relationship process and trust building process. Because the cause for the relationship to move, it needs to go from being intangible to tangible. So it goes from intention into reality. And it moves from intention into reality by the sales team in your sales person in conjunction with their opposite numbers in within the customer, looking at, at a combination of ability. So do we have the competence and capability? And do you have the capability and competency to realize this intention? Have we got the credibility? So do we do what we say? Do we have the right integrity? Do we have shared beliefs and and an ethics? And, and, and how well do we work together? So if we work really well, together, we’ve got got we demonstrate that ability, that competence, and we’ve got credibility, it will, through the reality lead to the effect and the effect that is a delivery of mutual value within the relationship. And again, you know, sales don’t do every part of that, they tend to be the, the conduit, they tend to be the or can be the facilitator, the enabler. And wrapping around that whole process is, is the oil I think, like, I call it or think of it more as the oil of the of that, of that trust process or trust model, which is around the communication. So again, a key role of sales here is the communication of what’s going on to all the all the different stakeholders within both sides of the relationship. And not just communicating the the good stuff, communicating the ups and downs, you know, what’s working, what’s not working. And then also commitment is another key wrap to this. So, you know, we’ve all been hidden in those situations where it started off really great, didn’t it? We were, you know, the great missive comes out from the leadership team and, and then they move off to the next shiny thing that they start to focus on. And everybody goes, everybody goes, Oh, that was you know, another another one of those. But actually, it’s that continued commitment, because as soon as that as soon as commitment moves somewhere else, then then certain elements within the relationship can start to slip dissonance creeps in And that’s where mistrust starts to start to emerge. So so I think from a really simplistic level, Jeremy, I think two real key roles for sales. One is the is in that mitigation of, of the leap from intention into reality. So from intangible trust, to tangible trust, and, and holding both sides of the relationship together to move into that, and then also playing a core role within the, within the building of the relationship and the building of trust through that, through that demonstration of the opportunity, the reality of making it happen, and then also demonstrating the effect. Because let’s face it, if you can do that, you know, we do it again. Because if we’re creating mutual value, why would I not repeat it? And if I repeat it, then then, you know, we’ve we’ve probably enhanced our ability to work together, we’ve created joint credibility, where we’re good now working with each other. And hey, presto, that creates more value and and off you go. So, so they’re, they’re the two, they’re the two key key parts of thing for me that, that, that identify, you’re probably not what what is, salespeople would traditionally see as what they do. But actually, when you think about is a, it’s a, it’s a natural element of relationship.

Dr. Jeremy Noad
So I’m taking away I mean, there’s two things that springs to mind we talk about trust, Ronnie. So in general, we give people trust to start off with, and, but if they break that trust, it’s a very long way back. And secondly, so but I think the key point would be around this building of the trust in the first place and making because as you sort of talked about it, I think he more around the sort of building these elements of trust, helps you with your competency helps you with your credibility, it helps with the customer opening up to you. And so it comes across as being sort of a lot of the sort of invisible glue, about your relationships with customers. Yeah. So we take that invisible glue, and we sort of sit here and say, okay, in the enablement function, we’re thinking about the competencies of the sales people and how we build the skills, the sales people, how we go about understanding where they are today, and how could we sort of think about how we could bring trust more to the forefront of the mind of the sales team so they can reflect that behavior in front of the customer?

Dr Mark Hollyoake
Yeah, that’s a really, that’s a really tough one. I think the I think there’s two there’s, for me, there’s two areas here. Jeremy is where you is where you look at how relationships develop over time. So So relationships develop over time, initially, they tend to be quite, they tend to be based on on on what’s called effective trust, which is emotion is emotion. So and this is what a lot of people this is what a sales people see, you know, it’s about like you’re like you do What do we share the same industry? Are you interested in me? are you passionate about my business? Do you are you enthusiastic, and then over a period of time that moves into being what’s quite are a balance, which is more about rational trust and rational trust is predicated on on rational choices, more cognitive. So it’s about knowledge about processes and about systems, it’s about bringing other actors into the relationship. So in it, so that really is a blend of as a salesperson, soft skills with that emotional intelligence, being able to flex your style based on understanding your other the other the other stakeholders, their style, but also having the awareness and an understanding of when is the right time to start to bring other people into the relationship too, and and stepping back to a certain extent in some areas because those other people will add additional value into the relationship that you can’t bring. And, and that’s a big ask for a lot of people and you probably come across the same where you you’ve seen people who are you know, oh, you can’t talk to that customer. Unless you go through old bill. You know, all bills been there. 15 years there’s no one knows that relationship like old bill Well, I think if you actually unpacked it, you’d probably find that that relation that relationships stagnated 10 years ago, you know, so yeah, so, so there’s a sort of.

Dr. Jeremy Noad
So that’s FAFSA, which is sort of opening it out in terms of, you’ve got to trust your organization and the players in there to best serve your customer.

Dr Mark Hollyoake
Yeah. Okay. And I think the other thing as well, Jeremy, with that doesn’t get spoken about enough is, takes two to tango. So, you know, you’ve got to, you’ve also got to have customers who are prepared to enter into that type of relationship to create, to create mutual value. And to be and to be to be aware that not every customer wants to have a really, you know, bonded type relationship with you, and some are happy to be transactional. And if they are great, you know, don’t load extra value in it and, you know, make it really easy to do business with them, because trust will develop, but from a slightly on a slightly different way. It’s not everybody can be, you know, have those really, highly integrated, interdependent relationships. They’re just either the culture isn’t there, or the potential isn’t there. So.

Dr. Jeremy Noad
So you know, so you’re kind of looking to sort of say, with transactional customers, we sort of start with a level given value of trust, but simply by doing what we should do, delivering what we should do, and meeting that customers need to that level will bring a greater strength of relationship through trust. And well, and but were we on the more intangible things where we’re looking at your thinking about the dreaded words of solution or value or, you know, these these nice ones? Then Then we’re sort of starting and saying we need to sort of put more effort into that trust building at the start.

Dr Mark Hollyoake
Yes. And also identifying that and seeing, seeing that, those that those relationships have the potential to do that. Yeah.

Dr. Jeremy Noad
Yeah. Yeah. And so when we sort of thinking about the skills and capability of our people and how to develop them, then it it, would it be right? Would I be right or wrong by saying, the trust element that we want to build in there and, and leverage? ethically, I hasten to add, but leverage is about making sure we join the gaps, the dots between the reason we do this in the sales process is that and that results in, you know, offering up trust to the customer. customers might not be fully explicit with you. But if you sort of become I think you said more vulnerable. So we’re going to talk to the salespeople about how do you show yourself as being vulnerable? without all the giggles? Yeah. Okay. Once you actually mean in terms of that relationship? Yeah. And this sort of ease is the higher level of trust, would you say? That sort of, I

Dr Mark Hollyoake
think there’s, yeah, I think there’s a couple of things here actually. There’s a couple of things here, Jeremy, the first point really comes back to that intention. So having a real clear intention of purpose for for the relationship, why are we doing this? You know, and if it’s a transactional customer, let’s make it really, really great for them to do business with us. And let’s see where it goes. Okay, for those that you’re just talking about, now, in terms of trust is dynamic, believe it or not, many people think it, you know, many people thought none is sort of a isn’t it? Trust trust? No, actually, it’s a dynamic process. So you can start by being the you can have what’s like is called risk based trust, more transactional trust and then you move up into competency or knowledge based trust. And that that that it by inference has obviously knowledge sharing going on so information sharing is going on, which means we start to trust each other because we’re sharing information which with each other. We’re doing that because you because you you’ve got the knowledge that adds the insight the creates the value, where it gets really smart in which is what you’re talking about now and not everybody can go there is it’s into identification based trust and that really is around a call it’s second order learning. Okay, it it’s like I know you so well that that That I know what’s going to happen. And I’ve sorted it out and put it in place before you even knew that that was going to affect you. And you trust me so well that you let me get on and do it. And you do it for me as well. And we through that process, create a relationship that, that, that, that creates mutual value. And mutual value isn’t always about pounds, shillings and pence. But it’s so it’s so integrated, that that is our competitive advantage, because nobody else can replicate that type of relationship. You know, and then the big Watch out is the trust is an S curve is to drop off. And, and there is it’s called, it’s called the dark side, which is excessive trust, and over dependence. And, you know, business world is littered with relationships that, yeah, so people get toxic.

Dr. Jeremy Noad
Yeah. And if you miss something new, then they’re so far over that hill, that they’re not going to even entertain a new or better, or more one way of doing something, which you might be okay, so. So yes, it’s a choice. And I think, I think he gets more prominence a little bit more prominence as a label now in terms of ethics and selling correctly, and that sort of positioning. But I think in terms of if you sort of had one thing you would take away and say, okay, you’re a sales manager, you need to make sure that your salespeople are doing a little better about building trust, what might that one thing be?

Dr Mark Hollyoake
Um, I suppose for me, I think it would be having clear intention and purpose around the relationship and having, having an understanding of the opportunity of what mutual value that opportunity delivers. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re whatever you’re selling, because because it’s, it’s, if you can, if you can think about the mutual value that that is being exchanged or being developed, then then as a, as a salesperson, you can do that you can identify the need, and you can meet the needs through the features and benefits, and then, and then deliver that mutual value. If you deliver mutual value, that relationship will continue. If you don’t, then it’s a one off. Thank you very much. And you’ll probably never see that person again. And so, so, yeah. And you mentioned called car sales people at the beginning, actually really good car sales people do that, they, they look at you, as not a 1215 grand purchase, they look at you as probably half a million to a million pounds, because if they’ve got you and they always sell a car to you, every time you change, and then you bring your family and your family use, you are worth a significant amount of money to them. And that’s a good car salesman, not the, what we’ve always thought of as, yeah, that’s what they’re doing. They’re thinking of the best thinking of the

Dr. Jeremy Noad
lifetime value that you could bring.

Dr Mark Hollyoake
Exactly. Yeah. Excellent. So that would be my, if I was, if I was going to talk to a sales sales manager, and also, you know, it, you know, in a very, very competitive environment, what makes you stand out? What differentiates you, you know, why do people want to do business with you? Because they trust you. And it’s the quality of the relationship they have with you. So it’s, it’s becoming increasingly more important.

Dr. Jeremy Noad
Later, yeah,

Dr Mark Hollyoake
yeah. And even during the pandemic, it’s, it’s, we’ve seen, you know, I’ve seen it become more and more prominent and, and starting to, to creep up on the agenda of more and more companies as they strive to get into that position.

Dr. Jeremy Noad
Cool. So I think that’s so today, we sort of talked a little bit about trust and how we can engender it and where it sort of fits. And for name when colleagues, I think we need to think about how you can sort of build that into the skills and competencies of your sales people.

Dr. Jeremy Noad
So before we finish up, john, just if people want to know a little bit more about you and your work, where can they find you in this connected world.

Dr Mark Hollyoake
Well, they can find me. They can find me online actually. So they can go to customer tunes.com. They can find me through you if you want to. They can also find me on Twitter and I’m on LinkedIn. So, so yeah, feel free. If anybody’s anybody’s interested in finding out a little bit more about trust I’m, I’m one of those evangelists. So I’m more than happy to bet over anybody’s here for a few minutes.

Dr. Jeremy Noad
Okay, so my thanks to Dr. Mark collio. Today talking about trust, and for every listing. Thank you for listening to the coffee collaboration enablement podcast. We hope to catch you again next time.

Unknown Speaker
Thank you. Thanks, Doc.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *