How to Build Trust in Sales

I’ll bet you can complete this quote without having to think about it.

People buy from those they know, like and …..

What is it. Trust, of course.

But, trust is one of those things that we know we need to build, but where is the step by step playbook for how to do it.

There really isn’t one.

And, there’s no easy button that can make you build trust with a person instantly.

And there’s certainly not one magic phrase that can do it.

In fact, if you say to someone, “You can trust me on this,” it often could have the opposite affect. Kind of like theyd be thinking, “why doe he need to say I can trust him.

But, there are a number of things that do go into building trust with prospects, customers, anyone you meet for the first time, actually.   

You might be familiar with  Steven Covey’s, who wrote the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Well, his son, Steven MR Covey, wrote the book, the Speed of Trust, and he has four principles of,  trust.

These are,


Intent-in sales, people often wonder if someone is just trying to sell them something, right.

Capabilities-people need to believe that you are capable of providing what you say you can, before you actually do it.

results. This comes after the face. Do you deliver what you say you will.

I’m going to talk about 13 actionable things that we can do that fall under these categories..

And these are things that we build up over time. Hopefully you’re already doing some or many of these things, and if you haven’t done it to the degree that you want, you’re going to starting today, right?

So let’s look at 14 specifics here and what you can do in each of these areas.  

Number 1, Consistency. Which is doing what you say you will, when you say you will, and doing it consistently. We all know people who say that they’re going to do something and they don’t, right? Do you have any friends like that where when they say they’ll do something, you’re thinking, oh yeah, that’s probably not gonna happen. I know someone that I enjoy being with, but he’ll often say, Hey, you know, we gotta go out for a beer, or have dinner. And then I’ll respond that sounds great, let’s put it together. And if we’re texting and emailing, he then goes silent.

I remember the last time he said that, I said, great, how about next Saturday at seven o’clock? And he never got back to me. And you know, the thing is there is that he is consistent in his untrustworthiness. So, that’s the perception I have of him.

On the other hand, you probably know somebody where if they say, I’m going to send you that information, it’s there within the hour. It’s not there in, , in a week or so, right? I have a term for those people in my life. They are solid.

So, very simply, do what you say you’re going to do. I mean, how hard is that? But yet that is probably the most, one of the most important factors as it relates to being trusted,

2. Is communicating… staying in contact with somebody, that builds your trust. Let’s say for example, that you’re probably not going to speak again with a prospect for a week or two, but some things have to happen in the meantime… by staying In contact, dropping in an email, giving an update as to where you are in the process is going to build more trust in you and your organization. To quote a couple of cliches here that apply, out of sight, out of mind, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The concept of recency bias also comes into play, which is defined as people tend to place more importance on recent experiences when estimating future events, which can translate into more trust in you.

3. Showing them that what THEY are interested in is more important than a sale. So many times I have said to prospects, I’ll say to them, look, I could try to sell you this program, but that’s not what you need. What you really need is just this video or resource. Matter of fact, I had one last week, somebody called and they said, which one of your programs would be best for this? I forget whatever it was. I asked ’em a bunch of questions and I said, you know what, you really don’t need to buy an entire program. Here’s what you need. And I pointed them to one of my free videos. Now what does that mean?

Are they gonna buy something from me at some point? Maybe. And if they don’t, that’s okay too. But you know what? I showed my integrity and I also showed that my main interest was helping them get what they needed, not in me making a sale. I’m gonna make a lot of other sales, okay? And that’s all great. And of course I’m in business to make sales. We all are. But, you’re gonna make many more sales by being interested in what somebody really needs and, and having their best interest in mind as opposed to you trying to get a sale. People can spot what some call “commission breath” a mile away, and it is repelling, not an act of building trust.

4. Have testimonials and recommendations. And put them on just about anything that somebody is going to see when either you proactively send it to them or if they do some searches on their own. That means in your LinkedIn profile, that means sending it to them in emails, putting it in your material, anywhere and everywhere.

It’s a concept of social proof. I often I talk about Robert Cialdini’s principles of influence, and this is a key one as it relates to people trusting you. Let’s face it, especially early on, people are going to trust the  words about you from others more than they will yours,  It’s third party credibility. That’s why online reviews are so valued by sellers, and used by buyers.

Now, with that said, here is a way of YOU actually saying how good you are, but putting the words in somebody else’s mouth. So for example, dropping this into a conversation. “So one of my other customers, here’s what they experienced, here’s the results that they got. And you don’t even necessarily need to mention the name of the company or the customer, but you’re just simply saying somebody else got these results. And again, that’s building credibility and trust as well.

5. Understanding the importance of your first impression. One of my mentors is Jim Fortin. He’s a transformational coach. And he says, how you do anything is how you do everything. And that certainly applies to the methodology you use to get in contact with somebody the first time. If you have to use an evasive tactic to try to get past a screener, that’s gonna get back to a decision maker. If you’re not going to be totally upfront in your opening statement and you’re going to use some kind of gimmick by, uh, not talking about value or misrepresenting your intent, that comes across  as  sleazy, how in the world could somebody trust anything else you’re going to say or do moving forward?

Or just being sloppy in your outreach, especially using automation and AI. I got a cold prospecting email today from a guy who started out by saying, “Hi Art, I noticed you’re in outside sales and had a quick question…Do you typically visit accounts in the field?” Well, if he did 10 seconds of research on me, he’d see how stupid of an approach that was. To add more hilarity to this, he is the CEO of an AI company. I replied back that his AI algorithm needs some tweaking.

So again, first impressions are lasting and very difficult to change.. again, whether it be proactive, you reaching out, email, LinkedIn, the phone or either reactive, anything that you have out there on social media, your LinkedIn profile, whatever people are checking you out and forming impressions, whether you know it or not, or like it or now.

6. Ba a name dropper. Another form of social proof for testimonials, talking about some of the other customers that you have worked with. Some sales pros do this in openings, voice mails, emails, and other messaging. They’ll say for example, “An issue that we help realtors with is getting more inquiries from prequalified buyers who are actively looking for a home in the next 30 days. In fact, we helped ABC realty increase closings by 20 percent.” One caution here, when you do drop names, be sure it is of someone—or a company—that the prospect would respect and know, otherwise it could have a “so what” effect.

7. Being fully transparent and talking about what you can’t do, what you don’t have, what you don’t know. People respect that. If you don’t have the answer to a question, tell them, I don’t know. I’ll find out though for you, that is not something that we do. That is not something that, that we have. And again, don’t try to be all things to all people if you’re not.

 8. Guarantee your work. Some of you don’t have any control of this, but some of you are solopreneurs or company owners or decision makers. Or, perhaps you as a salesperson can guarantee you will make something happen for them. When someone doesn’t yet fully trust someone, they view entering into any type of relationship as somewhat risky, unknown.

The very best thing that you can do is take the risk away, it helps  to build trust.

9. Be accessible. And I probably don’t do this as much as I should because I’m not out there chasing business as much as I in my early years when I was building my business. I don’t need to as much,  because after 40 years I’ve built trust. I’ve got people coming to me. But if I were an up and coming salesperson, I would have my phone number, my cell number on absolutely everything and invite people to get in contact with me because that shows that I am available. I’m there for them.

10. Take responsibility for everything. And think about this, if everybody took more personal responsibility in this world, it’d be a lot better place, wouldn’t it? As opposed to

People who place blame, people who are victims…don’t you really appreciate it when somebody says, you know what? I’m gonna own this. We screwed up and I’m going to fix it for you. Or even if maybe somebody else screwed up, but saying, you know what? I will personally handle this for you.

Personally, I can’t tell you the number of times where maybe my fulfillment service dropped the ball, didn’t send out an order where I grabbed a book outta my personal stash hand, wrote the label, sent it out to somebody because again, it’s my company. I gotta own it. And that’s how trust is built. And the organizations build trust with you and others, uh, cause you to lose their trust when Amazon says that it’s going to be there the next day, or in my case, I’m in Phoenix here, they have like six warehouses.

It can be here within a couple hours. <laugh>. I mean, I trust them. They have built that up and I know that I’m going to get what they say. If you want an excellent book about this, go get Extreme Ownership, written by a couple of ex Navy Seals.

11. Over deliver on everything.  Surprise and delight. Give more than what people expect. Send something extra, surprise them with a, a gift or again, something that they weren’t expecting. And why is this important? Not everybody does this. Not only does it build trust, but it also invokes another principles of influence and persuasion which is reciprocity. People feel someone indebted to someone else when they are given something unexpected.

12. Always do the right thing. What is the right thing? Well, you know what the right thing is. I mean, always ask yourself, what, what would grandma tell me in this situation? Uh, I had a situation where we were running a sale on, on some product and I noticed that an online order came in for the product, but somebody had used an old link. They didn’t use the sale link because maybe they didn’t receive the email or whatever it was.

I immediately called them and said, Hey, I’ve got some good news for you. I said, I’m going to be refunding, I think it was like a hundred bucks or something. because we’re running a sale on this. Now, would that person have known that we were running a sale? Probably not. But you know what? It was the right thing to do. And what did that do in that person’s mind? They were absolutely floored that I did that, I can’t believe you did that. She said, That is so awesome. Uh, we’re gonna be doing a lot more business with you.

13. Follow up after the sale. How many times do, I mean, have you bought something where somebody worked hard to get the business and then you never heard of, heard from them again? You had a hard time getting in contact with them. Now on the other hand, think about the people that stayed in contact with you. What happened? They built up that trust, uh, in, in your mind because again, you knew that they were there.