I’m pointing fingers at technology … really.

We all view business trust differently, but everyone knows that trust trumps price and that trustworthiness is a valuable trait for a salesperson. Yet, only 18 percent of salespeople are classified by buyers as trusted advisors whom they respect.

That’s embarrassing, unforgivable, and downright scary. Much of the mistrust goes to salespeople who pitch products, don’t listen, don’t know how to have conversations, and only focus on making their quota. They have no regard for their customers and what these people need and value, and so they don’t earn business trust. Instead, they hide behind technology, annoy prospects with cold calls, and pester strangers on social media.

That was rarely the case generations ago. My uncle was a pharmaceutical salesman in a small town. He visited the pharmacist in person. They knew about each other’s families and discussed practically everything. My uncle wrote the order in the last five minutes of each long “meeting.” No other pharma salesperson had a chance. There was history and trust that was earned over time.

To me, trust means someone has my back, and that I have theirs. It means telling the truth—even when clients don’t want to hear it. It means referring others if I’m not the right person.

Trust has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with people. That’s why the best way for a sales rep to build business trust is to start out with a referral introduction. The trust a prospect has for the referrer is transferred to the rep, so it doesn’t take years to earn their trust. Referred salespeople arrive with trust and credibility already earned. Then it’s up to them to treat the prospect with care and integrity.

I’m not the only one who knows what trust means. Sean Callahan gathered insights from 11 experts and shared them on the LinkedIn Sales Blog. Read “We Asked 11 Sales Influencers about How to Build Trust in the Sales Process. Their Responses May Surprise You” to learn more about the importance of business trust and how to earn it.

To learn how referral selling builds trust and guarantees qualified leads, invite me to speak at your annual sales kickoff meeting.

(Photo credit: Claudio Schwarz)