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Why I Don’t Trust my Dry Cleaner

By Sander Biehn | Nov 10, 2014

What is it exactly that causes us to trust people? I trusted my old dry cleaner but not the new one. The old one greeted me the same way the new one does. Both recycle hangers and remember my name to put on the ticket for my clothes. But there is just something about the new guy.

I have a sneaking suspicion the new guy doesn’t care about me in the same way the old one did. Let’s be clear, both of them only see me as a walking wad of cash ready to slip a few bills into their pockets on account of the ketchup I just spilled on my sleeve. But the old one asked me more questions. Beyond the casual ‘how are you?’, she engaged me, using my clothing as the medium for conversation. When I first started my new business and had an important meeting to attend, I asked her to give my shirts extra starch to improve my appearance. When I brought them back for cleaning she asked how the meeting went. Our relationship transcended dry cleaning because she asked me questions that didn’t directly benefit her business or simply ingratiate her to me. As for the new guy, he tries to spark up conversation, but it either seems empty or self-serving.  When he asks how my weekend is going, I know he doesn’t really care.

Tying this back to the world of social media an interesting conclusion can be made. If I don’t trust my dry cleaner because of stilted conversation, just imagine how I feel about a sales person who only posts content in order to line his pockets?  He may even post a great article, but with no context helping me to understand how this information can help my business, I just assume it has a self-serving purpose for him.  I always get a sinking feeling about anyone who engages me without actually havingme in mind.  I don’t think I am alone either. Consider how you feel about robo calls or junk mail that begins “Dear Your First Name.”

However, this should not dissuade any well-meaning salesperson from using social media to sell.  Needless to say, I am a huge fan of social selling and have built a business out of encouraging sales people to take hold of this new channel.  But I tell salespeople that they need to approach social media the way they approach a meeting with a new prospect. Would you walk into the room and immediately make it all about you? Any seasoned sales person would know to ask questions and try to build commonalities first, before trying to sell.  There is a real penalty to going for the close before you have built trust. It is no different in social media despite the enormous tendency I see each day to blast messages at prospects everywhere on social channels. The loudest voice will not win. Nor with the second, third or forth loudest.  This isn’t advertising. This is sales  The quiet voice that engages and responds to the needs of clients will walk away with it all. This is the way trust works and why volumes of sales books have been written about it.

Social media is a very forgiving place even for new-comers willing to learn how to best communicate with customers and prospects.  But this should serve as a cautionary tale around remaining authentic to yourself and intrinsically interested in your fellow human being.  We all wouldn’t mind a little more genuineness inside our social media channels. You know who you are.  I trust you about as much as I trust my dry cleaner.


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