Character + Competence = Trust

sports Illustrated

By Dick Stark

I just read an incredible story in Sports Illustrated by Chris Ballard, about a high school basketball team in San Jose, California.  In the fall of 2011 and fed up with his team’s poor attitude, Coach Mike Allen suspended every starter.  A boycott by the other players left him short of a full team. In the competitive world of high school basketball, when it is all about winning at any cost, this never happens.  But was the suspension, and the resultant boycott, the right thing to do?

With all but four players either suspended or boycotting, Coach Allen took the only action available. He started over, recruiting new players and promoting several freshmen.  The result?  They lost all their remaining games.  They didn’t just lose, they were “blown away.”  To rub salt in the wounds, many of the boycotting players watching games from the stands laughed and joked at the young team.  Coach Allen came under intense pressure from parents, that the punishment did not fit the crime, that these were kids, not adults, and this was not the right time to “take a stand” or “make a point.” Further, nine of the players were seniors and this was to be their year.  Now, it was like their senior season never existed.

Yet, public opinion and the media stood firmly behind Coach Allen.  He did not back down, finished out the season and looked to next year.  In the fall, 35 kids showed up for varsity tryouts, including several players that had boycotted the previous season. Amazingly, the team went 17-12 and made the section quarterfinals.  Was Coach Allen vindicated?  Whose character was tested, and was this the right action?

These were life lessons about authority, sacrifice, loyalty, and setting the right example–lessons that carry over to later in life, that could make a huge difference in career or life performance.

At RightStar, we view doing the right thing (ethics) as a business driver that adds value to our customers, employees, partners, and to our bottom line.  Interesting, BMC recently surveyed their sales and sales management team about RightStar.  Two things stood out: RightStar is trusted immensely and we are great team players, very transparent in working with BMC.

Of course, trust is a critical success factor in sales success. Mike Bosworth, author of What Great Salespeople Do, points out that trust is the most important characteristic of sales performance.  Trust is built though character, competence and emotional connection with the customer. Maybe not surprisingly, according to Sales and Marketing Magazine, 39% of salespeople are NOT trustworthy.

How do we know when a customer trusts us? Since RightStar’s mission is to be our customer’s trusted advisor in the ITSM space, trust is the key word.  Yet, trust is a feeling, it is not tangible, nor is it necessarily teachable. Customers trust us and then in turn give us access to all key groups and buyers, share business pain and gain behind projects, and may even share their life stories.  We become trustworthy when we share our experiences, both personal and business. That’s why our customer success stories, good and bad are so powerful, and why we must continue to show that every customer is a reference and that we will always work hard to do the right thing.

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About dick1stark

I am the President, CEO, and founder of RightStar Systems, a leading IT consultancy and BMC Software Solution Provider and Atlassian Expert Partner. My passion is customer success—whether it’s reducing the cost of service management, improving overall efficiency, or increasing end-user or employee satisfaction. Since founding RightStar in 2003, RightStar has made the INC 5000 list four times. In 2011, RightStar was awarded the prestigious National Capital Business Ethics Award (NCBEA) by the Society of Financial Service Professionals based upon RightStar’s foundation of honesty, ethics, and integrity. And in 2014, RightStar was selected by Forrester Research as one of 13 North American companies profiled in its ITSM Consultancy Wave Report. Finally, in 2016, BMC selected RightStar as its 2015 Supplier of the Year for its consulting partnership and excellence in service delivery. Dick is a graduate of Stanford University and a Project Management Professional (PMP).
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