Trust is a vital element in our lives and, as such, it has been studied and debated for centuries.

Trust is the belief that someone or something is honest and will not harm you, or that someone or something is safe and reliable. Trust is necessary to the ongoing wellbeing of societies including business.

For the purposes of this report, we have contained trust to the business environment.

We have chosen to use the definition of trust that has been promoted by the Harvard School of Business, which is that for trust to exist in any given situation the following 3 elements have to be present: authenticity, empathy and logic. If any of those is not there or is at risk, trust is threatened.

That being said, we believe trust is the heartbeat of business.

The current volatile global political and corporate climate and the lack of effective leadership in national politics in Australia, combined with the preliminary findings of the Royal Banking Commission, have undermined trust on nearly every level. Trust in business, particularly big corporates, has never been worse. And out of all the areas of businesses and organisations, none has suffered more in reputation and loss of trust than sales.

Sales is, and has been for a long time, a mistrusted profession. This has come about because people and the media tend to only talk about unethical selling practices. When we read about a doctor that has done wrong by a patient, or a coach that allowed their team to be given drugs, we don’t automatically condemn all doctors and medicine, or all coaches and sports. So why do all salespeople and sales operations suffer the consequences of the unethical behaviour of a rotten few?

The kind of unethical practices exposed by the RBC are not sales. They are scams and schemes created and used to take unfair advantage of people. They do not support a fair exchange of value nor do these schemes work towards long term wellbeing or sustainability. Instead these schemes are designed to line the pockets of a few at the expense of the many.

Despite the profession of selling being tarnished by the findings of the BRC and other exposes, selling is a vital business capability we all need to master if we are to move forward productively. Effective selling is about finding viable opportunities and cultivating healthy relationships based on evidence and substance leading to trust and confidence. Done correctly, selling is the vehicle that allows opportunity to flourish and people to prosper.

In December 2017, we launched the Selling Better Movement to help people understand that there’s a better way of doing business. A way in which we can all be prosperous together. The Selling Better Movement is built on mutual respect, evidence, transparency and trust enabling the development of positive opportunities and healthy viable relationships.

Now the question is, can trust in business be rebuilt? If so, how?

The 2019 Sales Trends, Trust me, I’m in sales, shows that the answer seems to lie in developing human-centred organisations and human-centred sales teams.

We invite you to explore the 12 Sales Trends for 2019.

Trust me, I’m in sales.

Sales trend 1 – How do we sell in times of mistrust

There has never been a better time to be alive with access to wonderful resources and opportunities, amazing innovations, advances in technology and better healthcare; however, due to an array of factors there is a shadow of mistrust that follows us everywhere.

This sales trend explores how we sell in times of mistrust. It aims to highlight those factors and tendencies that brought us to this place and looks at the emerging trends that offer a more positive, confident and trustworthy pathway forward to help us continue to sell effectively.

Sales trend 2 – Trust, financial institutions and the markets

Banks historically have held a trusted position in the community, but since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in particular they have lost their positon around the world as some of the most trusted institutions. This took a turn for the worse in Australia in 2018 with the findings of the Royal Commission. So, how can banks and financial institutions regain trust and respect?

Sales trend 3 – Trust me, I’m in procurement

Procurement is about trust. But trust is the one thing that’s in low supply in today’s world.

On the supply side, we operate in the global marketplace. There are always new emerging markets, new potential partners and new potential clients. To get the best deals, we sometimes have to go with someone new. But how can we trust someone on the far side of the world? How can we get them to trust us? What about the end-point consumer of a supply chain? This trend looks into the aspects that affect the development of trust in procurement.

Sales trends 4 – How trust instils a better Learning & Development culture

A culture of trust (or lack thereof) within a selling organisation has a strong impact on their salespeople: How much of a trusting environment do they have to work in? How much does lack of trust in their abilities and activities damage their own capacity to create trusting relationships with their customers? This trend highlights the key points necessary to develop a culture of trust within sales teams to help people sell better, even in times of mistrust.

Sales trend 5 – Using sales enablement technology to build trust

Technology is great when it’s used effectively for the right reasons. But far too often sales enablement technology simply allows us to do harmful and ineffective things quicker and in greater volume. Vendors are beginning to realise this and are learning how to use technology in clever, human ways to help them sell better.

Sales trend 6 – Trust me, I’m a salesperson

When trust in business, and organisations in general, is low, no one is more affected by this than salespeople. Salespeople are at the frontline of the business. They are the visible face. So when things go pear-shaped, the ones who lose credibility and trust are salespeople themselves.

This sales trend pinpoints the 4 characteristics of salespeople who are successful at rebuilding trust and continue to sell better.

Sales trend 7 – Brand and purpose come together

While the general thinking about brand remains dominated by marketing tropes of visual identity and high-profile campaigns, among the logo makeovers and high-profile ad campaigns, a shift is happening to a broader and more encompassing view of brands.

Sales trend 8 – Trusting optimism

Sections of the population in Australia have developed a pessimism about the country and the world which manifests itself as a lack of trust in our leadership. Generally, high levels of happiness and prosperity are associated with optimism. However, it appears there is an optimism gap: People are optimistic for themselves and their businesses but otherwise pessimistic about the bigger picture. How can we bridge that gap?

Sales trend 9 – Sales – the new team sport

The future of the individual ‘solo’ salesperson is coming to an end for most businesses.

Sales leaders do not need teams of individual B2B salespeople, they need people with a diverse range of skills working as integrated teams across a range of sales disciplines and capabilities.

What do high performance sales teams look like now and into the future?

Sales trend 10 – Tendering and trust

Developing tenders and proposals is key to winning and retaining business through contested sourcing processes. Most buying organisations, government and commercial, use these types of processes in one form or another.

These tendering process characteristics reinforce an important work winning principle: organisations buy from organisations that they trust and believe capable of delivering the requisite goods or services. This sales trend identifies the key steps and skills we need for writing successful bids.

Sales trend 11 – Building trust through personal image

Human beings are highly visual and it takes an instant to create a first impression. Gone are the days when it took 7 seconds to form a first impression.

Impressions matter. Yet there is a growing trend of people refusing to acknowledge this. This sales trend looks at the positive and negative tendencies around personal style in business.

Sales trend 12 – Marketing has a big role in developing trust and creating a trusted B2B brand.

We have reached a tipping point in B2B marketing. There is an urgency to regain and retain trust with customers and build a range of meaningful customer engagement experiences that deliver value in concert with their sales teams. This means that all CMOs and B2B marketing departments will have to shift. What are the changes marketing will have to make to lead the way?

Download the full report here.