The title of Stephen M. R. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust, says it all. Where there is high trust, things happen quickly. Where there is low trust, things happen very slowly.

In the absence of trust, selling is hard if not impossible.

We live in a time where trust is at an all time low. Recent HubSpot research revealed that 97% of people don’t trust sales reps.

Let that sink in for a moment. 97%.

The one thing that you need to succeed.

Thinking about where we are in our society right now, it’s kind of ironic. We’re more connected than ever, but trust is at an all-time low.

As sales professionals, we must earn trust. How do we do this?

Levels Of Trust

Seth Godin offers some insight in his book, This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn To See. He says that in the vacuum of mistrust, we find ourselves on one of three paths when it comes to trust:

  1. We’re Ignored
  2. We’re Sneaking Around
  3. We’re Trustworthy


Being ignored as a sales rep is a death sentence. You’ll struggle to reach your goals. When you don’t have trust, it’s hard to get new business. The clients you do have are also at risk. Without trust, your client base slowly erodes.

Sneaking Around

If we’re gut-level honest, most of us as sales people live at the level of “sneaking around”. We’re pretending to be trustworthy, but in reality, we’re empty suits. We’re posers, looking like people who have something to offer, but inside we’re more concerned about hitting our goals than helping our prospects. We hurry to close deals hoping that we won’t get found out.


The third option is to be trustworthy.

Trustworthy = worth trusting.

Last week as we were recording the Selling From the Heart Podcast with Tim Ohai it became very clear to me that there are two components of trust: sincerity and substance.

Trust comes from sincerity. Authenticity is not an option. Skeptical buyers in today’s market have their antennas up. They can spot a fake.

Trust also comes from substance. You can be the most sincere person in the world, but if you don’t have some value to bring to the table, you are the empty suit.

How To Become More Trustworthy

So what do you do to build trust? Let me start the list. If you can think of more items, please share them in the comments below the article.

  1. Follow through on what you say you’ll do. Big small things–especially the small things.
  2. Come to every meeting with a fresh idea to offer that could be helpful.
  3. Educate yourself. Share those ideas freely in your meetings, emails, and social feeds.
  4. Know your products. Don’t be lazy here. You need to know more than your prospects. The mantra about “prospects know more about what I’m selling that I do” is the lazy way out. Get to know your products in detail.
  5. Commit to be authentic. Find a way to be self confident without being a poser. Educating yourself and knowing your products inside out so you can bring insights will help build your confidence.
  6. Push the envelope by challenging buyers. I struggle to trust someone who’s only telling me good news or agreeing with me. Read The Challenger Sale and learn to teach, tailor, and take control.

Can you think of more ways to build trust? Share them below. Let’s work together to build up this vital asset for sales success.

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