In an era of wrecked public faith in business and economic stability, salespeople need to deliver on trustworthiness every single day.

How many times have you heard the phrase, “Trust me.”? Uh, huh. Sure.

Some people engender trust immediately. Most don’t. Those who do have a special way about them:  they exude self-confidence, and they connect and contribute. Others—well, others we would never trust.

Shake the Sales Rap

Salespeople know that trust can be difficult to achieve. Alas, sales has a bad rap. I believe this is because most consumers view salespeople as pushy, arrogant, in your face—pushing product, and wanting only the quick sale. (The used-car salesman scenario comes to mind.)

When we encounter a really good salesperson (unfortunately, sometimes few and far between), they do right by their customer:

  • They listen
  • Offer suggestions
  • Are empathetic
  • Ask good questions
  • Refer someone else if their solution is not a fit

Yes, they’re willing to walk away, but not before they help you out.

Earn Trust and Deliver

So what is trust, anyway? There’s commentary and research about what trust means and why we trust people. In a recent Wall Street Journal Article, “Trust Me”, Robert Hurley, professor at Fordham University and author of “The Decision to Trust”, outlines five principles to follow to embed trust in our companies. His premise is that we don’t have a crisis of ethics in business, but a crisis of trust.

He further states that the most trusted companies have lower employee turnover, higher revenue, profitability, and shareholder returns. Who wouldn’t want that—no matter what size our company?

Finally, we have a way to think beyond trust as something that’s nice to have, but now we have a checklist for specific ways to build trust.

The Five Principles to Demonstrate Trustworthiness

  1. Show that your interests are the same. We trust people when they serve our interests.
What does this mean for us? Always focus on your customers. Clients don’t care about us. They only care about what we do for them and how our solution impacts their business.
  2. Demonstrate concern for others. Do the right thing, even if you make a risky decision.
What does this mean for us?  Be willing to walk away if your solution is not a fit. Share information you’ve heard from others, even if the news is bad. Someone needs to say what’s really going on.
  3. Deliver on your promises. Follow through and execute.
What does this mean for us?  Do what you say you’re going to do. The fortune is in your follow-up.
  4. Be consistent and honest. Trust comes from always striving to honor one’s word.
What does this mean for us? When you make a promise, deliver on that promise. No one cares about good intentions.
  5. Communicate frequently, clearly and openly. Because trust is largely about relationships, communication is critical.
What does this mean for us? Err on the side of frequent and open communication. That means not just email, but phone and in-person conversations. And how do you build trusted relationships? One word: Referrals. (Here’s how to ask for a referral.)

Bill Wiersma, in his book, “The Power of Professionalism”, quotes Warren Buffet:  “You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.”

Bill continues: “Trust is to human capital what money is to financial capital. Of those few things to get right, trust is on the top of the list.”

Earn Trust By Doing Right

Comment & Continue the Conversation

I believe in the power of referrals and the power of being honest, forthright, and serving my customers. Trust is an everyday action item. How do you demonstrate trustworthiness in your sales business? What are your greatest challenges? What’s at the top of your list?

Comment here.