Building Trust and Rapport


The above words stopped me in my tracks, literally, as I strolled through the streets of Bath, England in April. This poster was in the window of a bank, and made me think about the importance of first impressions in sales situations, and how to establish trust and rapport while meeting a prospect for the first time.

How would buyers behave in the initial meeting with a seller if they know that this phrase was going to be true? And in the absence of this sentiment, many buyers have their guard up when meeting a salesperson for the first time.  How can a seller convey that they will do what is in a prospect’s best interest, and turn them into a customer along the way ?  Or, professionally let them know that the product or service they represent is not a fit for their needs.

How Salespeople Destroy Trust

Salespeople often exacerbate the situation in many unintentional ways, including the presentation of a “solution” before doing a complete diagnosis. Also, some sellers will try to manipulate the prospect by asking leading questions or asking for the business too soon. Neither of these tactics work.

The Trust Quotient: How To Enhance It

The prospect evaluates you in three key areas: rapport, reputation, reliability.

Rapport.  This is the personal feeling or connection we have with someone; how much we like or dislike them as a person.  Factors that positively influence rapport are:

  • Your investigative skills; are you asking the right questions?
  • Focusing on the prospect, listening attentively

Reputation.  The external perception that you or your company has in the eyes of others is an important element in determining trust.   Reputation can come from:

  • Being referred by a satisfied client
  • Results that you have helped to generate as published in case studies or white papers

Reliability.  The ability to demonstrate to clients whether you are dependable and can be trusted to behave in a consistent manner is also important and can be demonstrated by:

  • Doing what you say you will do when you said you will do it
  • Providing insight into areas that are relevant to help growing their business

We ask the attendees in our Workshops “how long does it take for a buyer to determine if a salesperson is credible?”  The answers usually range from a few minutes to a dozen seconds.  Trust is the foundation of every enterprise sale, and the first minute or so is critical in building the solid foundation that you will do the right thing, or step away. Use the outline above to stay above the fray.