Sales Skills

by Jeremy Cassell and Tom Bird

The importance of building trust

If you think about the psychology behind selling, trustworthiness is of critical importance. Would you buy something from someone you did not trust? And yet how do you guarantee that a customer/prospect will trust you? We would argue that trust comes from three core areas:

  • Competency (ability or skill)
  • Integrity (being honest, sound, moral)
  • Benevolence (disposition to do good).


Competence breeds confidence. If you sharpen your skills, you will feel more optimistic about selling more successfully. Asked ‘what are your key strengths as a salesperson?’, the five top answers from over 150 top salespeople were

  • Listening
  • Building rapport and managing the relationship
  • Presenting and persuading
  • Questioning
  • Gaining agreement.

Top salespeople recognise the importance of continuous improvement. Some 63 per cent choose to improve their skills with regular training, which has this sort of impact:

  • Better techniques and planning process
  • Up-to-date with latest thinking and jargon
  • Improved presentations
  • Greater variety of techniques used to suit different customer types/social styles
  • Reminder of the basics


All customers are sorting for integrity. Do you demonstrate consistency with your promises, actions and behaviours? Interestingly, 34 per cent of responders mentioned honesty and integrity as a core strength.


So often, it’s the small things that matter. We spent two years chasing a client whose first order was for well over £20,000. We did this by consciously being benevolent. For example, the client was interested in mentoring and we dropped around a manual on the subject for no charge. We occasionally do taster sessions to allow clients to identify what we can offer. Equally, we always provide welcome packs for all new clients. They cost us less than £50, but are the sorts of benevolent actions that will build trust.

Examples of benevolent actions identified by responders include

  • Passing on a key contact and effecting an introduction
  • Corporate hospitality
  • Training internal people
  • Help with positioning presentations internally
  • Responding quickly
  • Under-promising and over-delivering.

For more, see the topic on Trust in the Workplace