Everyone knows your prospect must trust you in order to buy from you.  In his book “Trusted Advisor” David Maister offers an equation that highlights the essential components to building trust.

Trustworthiness = Credibility+Reliability+Intimacy

Here are my top ten ways to build trust (in no particular order)

  1. Get credentials – Continuous learning and demonstrated expertise through diplomas, certifications and other forms of product knowledge and education can go a long way in building credibility.
  2. Dress the part – I remember a story Harry Beckwith told in his book “The Invisible Touch” about a veterinarian who saved a cat’s life by finding and removing a malignant cyst while on a routine visit for an inoculation.  Even though most veterinarians would have not found that tumor and gave the vet a 10 out of 10 rating on competency, the cat’s owner rated him a 7.  The reason, he did not have his lab coat on that day.
  3. Be complete – Do your homework and anticipate needs and speak about them before they come up.
  4. Tell the truth – always – Don’t exaggerate.
  5. Do what you say you will do – always and on time and in the manner that your client prefers.  Show up on time and answer calls quickly.
  6. Set strong agendas for implementation and send it in advance.
  7. Get referred by a satisfied client and use testimonials.
  8. Focus on things where you have an emotional connection with the client or prospect and avoid discussing things where you do not.  Discussing things where there is not a connection will backfire on you quickly.
  9. Be courteous, friendly, honest, and impartial.  Be polite (say please and thank-you)
  10. Focus on the client or prospect, not you or your products or services.  Salespeople have a tendency to want to spend too much time talking about their company, products and services.  They have a strong belief in what they are selling and desire to communicate features and benefits with a passion.  What they are doing is destroying trust.  If you do a good job building credibility, reliability and intimacy so you get a 10 out of 10 on all counts for a total score of 30, but you score a 10 on self interest by talking too much about your company and what you are selling, your 30 just became a 3.