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Do Buyers Trust Salespeople?

Becoming the trusted advisor ...


The reality is that the words 'sales' and 'trust' are rarely used in the same sentence. It's not fair, but it is true ...

Trust is not something that you can create, it is built up over time!

Trust is not something that you can create, it is built up over time!


Salespeople of all ilks are often tarred with the same brush as double-glazing or even car salespeople. I have nothing against them by the way. Also, sellers may want to do right by their customer, but meeting target inevitably comes first, which means the typical buyer suspects that the salesperson will do, or say, whatever is required to close the sale.

A complex sale won't close unless the buyer feels they can trust the salesperson involved. That is not to suggest that buyers are emotional rather than logical. Certainly, companies screen potential suppliers according to such criterion as product functionality, industry-specific experience, the technology employed, and so on. However, when it comes to the final selection, the logical frontrunner will flounder unless they have the trust of the buyer.

Watch this spoof video to see how not to do it and see what I mean!

That means, on paper at least, one supplier may clearly have the best product, technology, or price. It may also have the best experts, the most impressive client list, or the longest pedigree. However, all of these supplier plusses are set to naught if the buyer cannot trust that company's salesperson or sales team.

"It's time to change the buying model!"

The problem is that all our sales training is aimed at demonstrating competitive advantage and building a logical reason to buy. This is driven by traditional models that view the buying process as a sequence of steps that can be represented by straight lines and square boxes.

These outdated models suggest that the seller's job is to cover all those who influence the buying decision, address all the criteria, prove the value, deliver the presentations, prepare the proposal, and so on. There is little consideration of emotional factors in the buying decision ... in particular trust.

Stating the obvious about trust:

  • Trust is not something that you can create, it is built up over time

  • Mistrust, however, can be formed immediately

  • Trust is dictated by attitude, principle and intent, rather than technique, or tool

  • It is hard to fake trustworthiness

  • Trust is earned by demonstration, not by declaration

  • By asking for it you forgo it; trust is unspoken

  • Trust is individual and personal, trusting a company is a different matter altogether

So, trust is important, but what exactly does it mean? Just what does the buyer need to trust the seller to do? Firstly, the buyer has to trust that the seller will solve the problem, or deliver what they need. But perhaps more fundamentally they must trust the seller to look out for the buyer's interests. After all, projects may experience problems and unforeseen circumstances can arise, but knowing that the seller will steadfastly remain at the buyer's side, regardless of what happens, is what matters most.

"Trust means you care!"

Trust-based selling requires solid levels of competence, credibility and reliability. But most fundamentally it requires a demonstration that the seller really does care. So, just because the buyer knows you can do the job, does not mean that they will trust you.

This is particularly important where the seller knows more than the buyer and where they are an expert rather than just a salesperson. Surely, an expert is more trustworthy than a salesperson? Well, that misses the point in a way ... the objective is not to know more, but to care more. The old adage is true, "people don't care what you know until they know that you care".

In this respect the expert who is confident, perhaps overconfident, that he or she has the right answer is at a disadvantage when it comes to building trust.

How Can A Seller Inspire Trust? "I am not a lead!" exclaimed an exasperated buyer fed up of dealing with salespeople. "I have salespeople calling me all the time, wanting to prequalify and sell to me. None are interested in me or my business. I am just another number, another lead to them!" Does that sound typical?

Trust rests on the buyer's sense that the seller actually cares, something that is indicated by things like paying attention, showing interest and exhibiting curiosity about the prospect and what is important to them.

Because when you show that you genuinely care, people tend to trust you. That means they are much more likely to buy from you when they need what you are selling. The word 'genuine' is important because trust really is difficult to fake.

Until next time ...


Would you like to know more?

If you'd like to find out more about trust and how salespeople can build it with their prospects (and keep it!) then do give me a call on 01908 511 062 or leave a comment below and let's see how I can help you.

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About Debra Stevens ...


I'm the founder of DTS, which was established in 1996. A highly successful experiential training company specialising in facilitating behavioural change in all aspects of dealings with people, whether in customer service, sales, management or with colleagues and teammates.

I've managed large contracts such as Pearson Education, Coca Cola, Penguin Books, Accenture, and Santander for over 21 years and have built up excellent relationships with key sponsors of all aspects of the businesses.

I'm a successful trainer, writer and speaker with nearly 30 years' experience of training people at all levels.


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