Skip to main content

Building trust was important 50 years ago, and it’s just as important today. When buyers trust salespeople, they rely on them, listen to them, and give them time and space.

Trust is crucial for your sales success. Today’s buyers are busier than ever, have access to more information, and need to make more decisions. This makes them harder to access and to gain trust from.


Some things remain the same

Building trust is an important element when it comes to achieving customer loyalty, and most salespeople agree that they could put more effort into strengthening trust.

Trust in a sales situation is built on four elements: your skills, your reliability, your integrity, and your ability to be personal. The following ideas can help you build trust:


Know your impact

Sales winners sell convincing solutions. The key to making solutions convincing is a concrete return on investment. Be ready to discuss concretely what results the buyer can expect to achieve. If you don’t know the consequence model; how you can influence their business, the buyer will not trust your business.

Be an expert

Many buyers do not trust salespeople because salespeople do not know their market, their products, and their solutions. As a salesperson, you need insight into your buyer’s business, industry, competition, market, and a good understanding of the customer’s needs, etc. You need to be able to answer the buyer’s questions about your offer, the market, its challenges, and the buying process itself. If you want to be successful in sales, you need to take ownership of being a source of knowledge and inspiration.

Share your views

Let’s say a buyer says: “Okay, what should I do then?” If you don’t have an answer to that—if you’re not willing to develop and share your views, they won’t see you as a trusted advisor. Part of being an advisor is, as you know, advising. If you know your business, and you know your impact, the buyer will begin to trust your skills. And then they will want your opinion.

Fulfill your commitments

Woody Allen once said, “To show up is 80 percent of life.” It’s very simple. Successful salespeople build trust by consistently living up to their commitments. Do what you promise and do it well. Keep your appointments and meet your deadlines. If you tell the customer “I’ll call next week,” then call next week. Make sure the buyer has clear expectations for how you work.

Demonstrate ethics

Successful salespeople always do the right thing, even in morally ambiguous situations. This may mean that you must be able to say no to business, suggest alternative (and less profitable) solutions, or refer business elsewhere. Buyers trust salespeople who have their best interests in mind.

Create shared experiences

Shared work experiences ensure that the buyer experiences how you think and what your work style is. The more time you spend with someone, the more they tend to like you, provided you are likable, of course.

Be personal and empathetic

Many salespeople have learned not to talk politics and not to talk about anything too personal. You can ask about the weather, but that’s it. Anything else can get you in trouble. It might, but if you don’t connect with people on a personal level, you’re forgetting a very critical element in building trust. Don’t be afraid to “connect” on a personal level. Salespeople who do not actively work to create trusting relationships miss out on a big part of the sale.
Professional presenting for customers
Reassessing performance. Professional reviewing presentation in car

Most salespeople believe they are capable of building trust. Some actually think they are quite good at it. But are they really?

This is called “illusory superiority” in academic circles. People who think they are better at things than they are. What does it mean for building trust that you overestimate your own capacity while your buyer is more skeptical?

Many have experienced being sold something that turned out not to be quite what they were promised. You may think your integrity is very high, but if the buyer has previously experienced the opposite, they may be suspicious before they meet you. It’s up to you to demonstrate that you have integrity. The buyer won’t just assume it.

Salespeople who do not actively work to create trusting relationships miss out on a big part of the sale.

Adapted from The RainGroup, 7 ideas for building trust in sales, by Mike Schultz

Ready for change?

Since 2001, we have developed and delivered the industry’s best sales training. We know that new behaviours and skills require personal development and dedicated effort. Shall we help you too?