Small business BIG growth®
Words by Sue Barrett, BIGthink! Specialist, Founder and Managing Director of Barrett Consulting Group


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 spruking ways to get your prospect to call you back. DSCN0269His 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.”

(Swan, E. Nolan, J. Gaining Customer Trust: A conceptual guide for the salesperson,” journal of Personal Selling & Sales mgt, 1985. 2(39).

Let’s take a look a 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, i.e. 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. Penglase, D. “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 t0 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 lives by the philosophy that ‘selling is everybody’s business & everybody lives by selling something’ and is Founder & Managing Director of Barrett Consulting Group (est. 1995), incorporating Barrett and Barrett is one of Australia’s leading sales consulting firms partnering with companies to improve their sales operations.

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