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Things I’d Like To See Go Away – Distrust by Default

by Hank Barnes  |  October 16, 2018  |  Submit a Comment

It’s an interesting time in the world to be talking about trust.  Many of our institutions and values feel like they have been compromised.  There are lots of reasons not to trust.  But starting from a position of distrust makes things a lot harder.

Rather than get political, I want to talk about trust between vendors and customers.  In the digital world, with ecosystems and complex networks, trust is critical.   To have successful projects, trust is critical.

Source: Yuri Catalano via pexels

Source: Yuri Catalano via pexels

But we often start with distrust by default.  And, we in the industry, cultivate that.   I regularly hear people talk about how vendors will do anything to get your money.  They’ll design contracts that will create surprises for you if you are successful.  They’ll overpromise. and on and on and on.

While there have been, and always will be, vendors that violate trust–it is a failing business strategy.  It is not sustainable.  And that’s never more true than today with the move to cloud and subscription business models.  Switching vendors is always hard.  Always.  But the constraints against that are lower than in the past.

If we start with distrust, it means communications between vendors and customers will always be stilted.  One or the other party will always wonder what is being held back, what to believe.   It actually creates an environment where trust is likely to be broken–because it was never there in the first place (okay if it was never there, it can’t be broken, but you get the picture).

There is an alternative that could work..

Trust by default.   But verify.  Don’t trust blindly.

It’s easier to verify than ever before.  Customers can do trials.  Customers can contact peers.  Influencers abound.

So, why not give it a shot.   Vendors, you need to earn that trust.  Help customers verify.   Help them manage uncertainty.  Be forthcoming, and proactive, about explaining the implications of licensing terms.

It’s not about the deal and making it about the deal is based on the foundation of distrust.  It’s about the customer getting value.

Trust is a two-way street.  To trust, you have to be worth of trust back, you have to be trustworthy.  It’s reciprocal.

When we start with distrust, the uphill battle to a trusting relationship is a difficult one.   It makes it harder to sell and harder to buy.

If we could abandon distrust by default, we could focus more on getting the details and verifying them.  We could collaborate more effectively.  It’s not easy and there will be hiccups, but the potential benefits could be substantial.

Anyone willing to try?

Category: go-to-market  

Tags: customers  marketing  sales-strategy  strategy  trust  

Hank Barnes
VP Distinguished Analyst
5+ years at Gartner
30 years IT Industry

Hank Barnes provides research and advisory services on go-to-market strategies for technology providers. He focuses on issues related to positioning, storytelling, the technology customer life cycle, and customer experience. Read Full Bio




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