Trust-based relationships

I typed ‘sales’ into YouTube the other day. I must say the examples on offer were very disappointing. Why do people persist with such rubbish?


Sue Barrett

I typed “sales” into the other day, just to see what was on offer. I have to say that some of the initial videos displayed on the front page were very disappointing indeed, especially when it came to building trust-based relationships with clients.


One well-known speaker was spruiking ways to get your prospect to call you back. His idea was to leave a provocative half message that said something along the lines of “I’ve just been speaking to your competitors and they said you are in big …”, then he suggested hanging up before you competed the message. This, he assured the audience, would guarantee them calling you back. The audience laughed but you could see people shifting nervously in their seats.


Some of you may think this is perfectly legitimate, however having to trick people into calling me back doesn’t feel that good. And I know the prospective client isn’t going to feel too good about it either.


Why do we persist in offering this sort of rubbish up as legitimate sales fare?


As the salesperson you should strive to attain lasting relationships with your customers.


To initiate, develop and enhance your relationships with your customers, you must demonstrate your trustworthiness. Leaving provocative messages isn’t a good place to start.


The basis of trust begins from the moment of your first contact with your prospect. Even if it is a phone message.


Trust is defined as being where…. “The buyer believes they can rely on what the salesperson says or promises to do in a situation where the buyer is dependent upon the salesperson’s honesty and reliability.”
(John Swan and Johanna Nolan: “Gaining Customer Trust: A conceptual guide for the salesperson,” Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 1985.)

Let’s take a look ways to develop trust-based relationships.


Trust builders


The following factors are critical in helping salespeople to earn the buyer’s trust.


  • Expertise – the ability, knowledge and resources to meet customers’ expectations.
  • Dependability – doing what you say you will. Being reliable.
  • Candor – honesty.
  • Customer orientation – placing as much emphasis on customer’s interests as your own.
  • Compatibility – creating a common connection, that is having something in common. Being likable.


“There is an obvious link between ethics and trust and furthermore there is an obvious link between trust and organisational success.” (David Penglase: “What is ethical selling?”.)


It is expected these days that organisations’ staff behave ethically and professionally at all times.


You may like to explore the concept of ethics and professionalism and what this means in relation to prospecting with your team.


You may like to use the questions I raised in an article I wrote last year about the ethics of self-promotion and prospecting to help you:

  • Do other people stand to gain from my self-promotion or prospecting actions?
  • Do my self-promotion or prospecting actions have a positive influence on my own well-being and self-esteem?
  • Do my self-promotion or prospecting actions move me closer to my short- and long-term goals?
  • Would most people approve of how I prospect for new business or self promote?

If you can honestly answer “yes” to these questions… fine. But then test them out by asking those who know you well to give you feedback on your self promotion activities by answering the questions above. And see what they have to say.

I wish you happy and successful selling.


Sue Barrett is Managing Director of BARRETT Pty Ltd. Sue is an experienced consultant and trained coach and facilitator. Sue and her team are best known for their work in creating High Performing Sales Teams. Key to their success is working with the whole person and integrating emotional intelligence, skill, knowledge, behaviour, process and strategy via effective training and coaching programs. For more information please go to

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