How to Build Trust in Sales: Why Trust Trumps Transactions
Nobody will ever buy your product if they don't trust you.
As a salesperson, have you ever been in a situation where you know you have a great product, a qualified prospect who wants what your product does, and numbers to back up your claims—but yet, they still don’t buy?
What’s the issue?
It isn’t pricing, it isn’t your feature set; it’s Doubt! They’re scared to make a mistake. They’re afraid of being wrong.
They logically know that it makes sense to buy your product. But what if they sign the deal and something goes wrong? Why should they stick their neck out when they could just play it safe?
Like skydiving, it feels dangerous. You know the equipment is working. You know the parachute will bring you down to earth safely. But boy, is it scary when you’re looking out of the plane!
That’s where trust comes into play. And let me tell you, trust isn’t just a nice-to-have in sales—it's an absolute must. Keeping with the skydiving metaphor, it's the emotional parachute that gives decision-makers the courage to take the leap and buy your product.
So, let's take a closer look at why trust is essential in sales and how you can lay the groundwork to establish trust with your prospects and turn them into customers.
Why Building Trust in Sales Is so Important
Let's be real here—if you're still resorting to aggressive, quick-fix sales tactics, then you're doing it all wrong. The truth is that today's buyers are savvy, informed, and, above all, skeptical.
They won't fall for flashy sales pitches and high-pressure closing techniques. That kind of approach just doesn't cut it anymore.
What's needed now is a paradigm shift in the way we think about sales and customer relationships. It's no longer about transactions; it's about trust.
In fact, according to a study by Salesforce, 87 percent of business buyers expect sales professionals to act as trusted advisors. Customers want salespeople who will guide them through the decision-making process, who will be transparent, and who genuinely care about their success.
So, what happens when a prospect doesn't trust you?
They'll likely look for any possible escape route. They'll stall, they'll procrastinate, they'll dodge your calls.
They'll do everything in their power to avoid making a decision. Why? Because no one wants to take a risk on a product they're not entirely confident in, or a salesperson they don't fully trust.
The 3 Levels of Trust in Sales
When we dive deep into the concept of trust in sales, we find that it’s more than just one-dimensional. Rather, it's built on three key levels:
- Trust in the person
- Trust in the product
- Trust in the company
Each of these levels is equally important, and all work in unison to build rapport and gain trust.
Trust in the Person
Think about trust in the person as the foundation on which all other elements of trust are built. When we say "person" here, we're talking about you, the salesperson.
It's about your relationship with the customer, the rapport you establish, and the trust you build during your interactions—whether face-to-face or over the phone.
Your expertise, sincerity, and reliability play a huge role in earning this trust. Can the potential customer trust your knowledge? Do they believe that you're genuinely invested in their success? Can they rely on you to follow through on your commitments?
If the answer to these questions is a resounding “Yes,” then you're on the right track.
When a prospect trusts you as a person, they're more likely to value your recommendations and heed your advice.
Trust in the Product
Next in line is trust in the product. But it's not enough to just have a great product. You must also effectively communicate its value to the prospect, assuring them that it does indeed deliver on its promises.
As a salesperson, you are the conduit between the prospect and the product. Your belief in your product’s capabilities is contagious. If you can confidently articulate how it solves their pain points, matches their needs, and offers them real value, it goes a long way in fostering trust.
Trust in the Company
Last but definitely not least is trust in the company. This is where the prospect’s confidence extends beyond you and your product, reaching the entire organization. It's about the belief that the company, as a whole, honors its commitments and lives up to its values.
When we acquired the domain Close.com and moved over from Close.io, one of the reasons behind this was simply to communicate to prospective customers that they could trust our company. Moving to another CRM requires a lot of trust—you entrust a lot of mission-critical data to your CRM provider, and you want to be certain that this data is safely stored and accessible for your team when you need it.
From a prospect’s point of view, if they perceive your company as dependable, reliable, and trustworthy, it boosts their overall confidence in making a purchase.
How to Build Trust in Sales: 7 Strategies That Are Proven to Work
Building trust in sales takes time, care, and patience.
Although it might feel like a long-term investment, the dividends it pays oftentimes make it all worthwhile. But how do you go about building this trust? Forget the sales tips and hacks: Here are seven tried-and-true strategies to build trust in sales.
1. Develop Consistent Messaging
Have you ever been in a situation where a sales rep told you one thing while another rep told you something completely different the week prior?
As a potential customer, it’s mildly infuriating and discredits the company's trustworthiness.
Be it your website, social media messaging, or sales pitches—consistency is crucial. Consistency breeds familiarity, and familiarity breeds trust.
But it’s not just about what you say. Consistency needs to blanket everything your company does.
From your tone of voice and color scheme to the speed at which you respond to customer inquiries and manage after-sales service, your company as a whole should present a consistent message that builds trust in customers.
2. Demonstrate Your Ability to Solve Their Problems
Your role as a salesperson extends beyond selling a product or service. You are selling a solution to a problem that your prospect is grappling with.
To build trust, you need to deeply understand their pain points and show them clearly how your product or service can solve their problems.
Before Close, we launched an outsourced sales service and were trying to get our first customers.
We had one specific customer who became our second paying customer and stayed with us for the longest time, from day one for almost two years.
Our first sales guy pitched the idea on the phone. They expressed their fear that we wouldn’t deliver on our promises. Over the next few weeks, our sales guy talked with them multiple times, answered hundreds of technical questions, and they still couldn’t pull the trigger.
We looked at all their objections and questions, and it all boiled down to one thing: trust!
They didn't feel comfortable, they were afraid, they didn't trust us.
So we got them on the phone one more time and said: "Hey, for a moment, let's put aside all these technical questions. If we are honest with each other, you guys simply don't trust us, and you're afraid that it's going to take too much time to coach, train, check, and manage us. We can argue this back and forth forever. But words will never make you trust us.”
Instead, we asked them to give us one week to study their solution and then try to pitch their own solution back to them.
“Give us your best objections. See how we react, see how we respond. See if we can sell you and convince you to buy your product. Because if we can do that, we can do it with anyone else when cold calling."
There was a moment of silent thinking from the CEO's end of the line, and then he said: "Ok, let's do it."
A week later, we cold-called him, sold him their solution, and asked him: "How did you feel about this call?"
His answer: "Let's get started. Let's do this. I feel really good about you guys."
That's the power of building personal trust. Use your action to create trust, don't just ask for trust with words.
3. Empathize with Their Pain Points
Empathy is one of the most powerful emotions to leverage in trust building.
Especially so when you empathize with your prospect’s biggest pain points or fears.
If you know your prospect has an objection, but they just don’t feel comfortable bringing it up— good! This is your opportunity to bring it up!
Most sales reps try to stay clear of latent objections if the prospect doesn’t address them.
Instead, don’t be afraid to pull this hidden objection out of the dark, put it in the middle of the room, shine a big bright light on it and kill it in front of your prospect.
How exactly do you do that?
Preparation. Identify what exactly scares them. Make a list of the three most common fears prospects have regarding your product.
Then you say: “I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, ‘This thing really works. Now I actually have to consider purchasing it.’ That can be a scary thought, right? You’re skeptical about [fear 1], [fear 2], or [fear 3], right? That’s completely normal. I encounter this every time. That’s how every single of my customers felt at first.”
It’s important to give them the chance to verbalize and express their concerns. Have them nod in agreement and say “Yes.” Just by letting them express this fear, you’re defusing the emotional impact it has on them. You’re getting this psychological roadblock out of the way.
And you're also making sure that the objections you're assuming are blocking the deal are actually what's on your prospects' minds. Knowing customer needs and fears is closely tied to sales success.
4. Include Social Proof in Your Sales Process
There's a reason why companies feature social proof elements on their website, such as:
- Customer testimonials
- Pictures of customers using their product
- Case studies
According to Trustpulse, online reviews about a specific product can boost conversion rates by up to 270 percent. If you can showcase that other reputable companies are succeeding with your solution, that can go a long way in generating trust for your company.
At Close, we feature customer stories on our website, and our sales team references them when talking with prospects that have similar objectives to those some of our case study customers have.
It's one thing when a salesperson tells you, "This CRM will help you close more deals." Everyone can make a claim like that. It's another story when you see case studies of companies like yours that actually closed more deals because they chose a CRM.
That’s the power social proof can have on your customers.
5. Take a Consultative Approach
In consultative selling, you become a trusted advisor to your prospect. Instead of pushing your product or service as the be-all and end-all, you take the time to understand the unique challenges your prospect faces. With this sales strategy, you ask open-ended questions, listen actively, and immerse yourself in their world.
Let's be real. Customers today are smart. They can smell a rehearsed pitch a mile away, and nothing is more off-putting. They don't just want a product; they want a solution.
And more importantly, they want someone who genuinely cares about their problem and is committed to helping them solve it.
Adopting a consultative mindset means becoming that someone. It means setting aside your sales agenda and stepping into your prospect’s shoes. It means navigating the complex maze of their problems, understanding their needs, and then, and only then, positioning your product or service as the solution they need.
6. Show Your Trust in Them
In the quest for building customer trust, salespeople often forget one crucial thing: trust isn't just about making your customers trust you; it's about showing them that you trust them too.
This can take many forms. You might trust your customer enough to share inside information about an upcoming product feature, or you might trust their judgment and take their feedback to heart.
Remember, trust is a two-way street, and it's built on a foundation of reciprocity. When you show your customer that you trust them, you make them feel valued.
You show them that they are not just another deal for you; they are a partner. And this feeling of being valued is what encourages them to trust you back.
7. Uncover Bad Experiences
Trust in sales is often undermined not by your actions but by the shadows of past experiences.
Your prospect might have been burned before—perhaps a product didn't live up to its promises, or a company didn't provide the support it promised.
And these past experiences act like a trust repellent, making your job all the more challenging.
That's why another powerful strategy for building back buyer trust is to shine a light on these past disappointments. Ask your prospect about their previous experiences with similar products or services.
What worked? What didn't? Did they have any bad experiences? If so, how did those experiences affect their decision-making process?
Asking these questions accomplishes two things:
- It gives you insights into your prospect's fears and concerns, which you can then address directly
- It shows your prospect that you care about their experiences and that you're committed to not repeating the mistakes of the past
Bridge the Gap Between Doubt and Trust
In the grand scheme of sales, trust is about reducing the distance between doubt and certainty. It's about instilling confidence in your customers that they can count on you, your product, and your company.
Building trust is not a once-off event but a continuous process that needs reinforcement at every stage of your business relationship with customers.
Lastly, remember that people buy from people they trust. Be that person, and you'll find yourself closing more deals.
Encountering objections isn't a signal to panic, but an opportunity to fortify trust. That being said, the key to properly handling objections is to be prepared. Want to be better prepared for responses to common sales objections? Check out our Objection Management Template: