The Trust Spectrum Of A Sales Team

Can I trust you? Sounds like a simple question that commands a simple answer. Well, it depends on what you want to trust me with, I guess. Are you sharing a secret? Do you need me to carry out a critical function? Would you like me to hold your purse or wallet? Trust is fragile; hard to earn and easy to lose. Trust is essential for the sales team for a variety of reasons including loyalty, dependability, honesty, predictability, integrity & communication. But why do some sales teams function very well with trust while others struggle with it year after year?


Distrust has interesting ways of playing out with sales teams. It can manifest itself in several ways. Drama, gossip, and blame are all telltale signs of distrust that ultimately lead to a decrease in productivity and an increase in attrition. Understanding where your team is with trust ultimately is found on the Trust Spectrum and the source is usually identified with leadership (but not always). Let’s have a closer look at the Trust Spectrum and see where you might find you and your team.

Micromanagement: Micromanagement is the opposite of trust, and this always comes from the leader. It could be for good reason because perhaps someone on the team or the whole team is not meeting expectations. Or perhaps the manager has a hard time letting go of control or is even instructed to micromanage by senior leadership. Whatever the case, this is ineffective if for only the amount of waste it creates and the stifling impact it has on performance. Micromanagement also creates more distrust just by its very presence, and people within the team will look for ways to work around the micromanagement, which also manifests itself in less than trustworthy behaviors.


Trust, But Verify: Not a bad policy, even though the phrase itself is a contradiction. This is the widest part of the spectrum and where most teams will find themselves. It is filled with good intentions and often is quite functional. But verifying anything means that trust is absent in some fashion. So, we need to have some checks and balances with the sales team to make certain that we are mitigating risks. The goal should be to establish the maximum amount of trust possible to create better efficiencies, productivity, and creativity.


Total Trust: All people must accept some degree of trust in their lives. Otherwise, we would be trapped in indecision. But there are some sales teams that operate on a high level of trust with one another. This is usually achieved with strong and noble leadership, proper team selection, clarity of goals, and rock-solid processes. Sales Teams with total trust operate with an awesome amount of power that captures a lot of new business and leaves the competition stunned. It can take a long time to achieve this status, but the more you focus on establishing trust instead of micromanagement and verification, the stronger your sales team will become over time. 

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