Some 96 per cent of all sales professionals agree that trust is critical to their sales success.

However, few know exactly what customers need to trust them for, and how to build the dimensions that are critical to trust. This means that sales professionals lack the ability to maximise the trust factor and are therefore unable to provide customers with what they value most.

A recent global survey conducted by Huthwaite International showed that sales professionals had a clear understanding of the importance of trust.

Findings of studies across Asia-Pacific, conducted by Mext & Duxton Consulting, show that if customers trust a brand or product, 83 per cent will recommend it to others; 82 per cent buy it more frequently; 78 per cent turn to it first for things they want; and almost half are willing to pay a premium for it.

Further studies show that just a 20 per cent improvement in trust can improve buyer behaviour by a whopping 400 per cent.

Building trust

It is critical for sales professionals to understand exactly how to build trust for their specific company, for their product and for themselves.

A very simple example: human beings go through various “tensions” when it comes to decision-making about whether or not to trust a person.

For those who are married, think back to when you were looking for a spouse. On the one hand, you wanted a person who was stable, gave you comfort and made you feel prepared for all the future. On the other, you also wanted someone exciting, someone who made you laugh, motivated you and maybe even introduced you to something new, exciting and unknown.

Depending on your needs, you would have trusted someone either very exciting, or very comforting or someone who could combine both in a unique way.

This is just one of the three tensions people go through when making a decision whether to trust someone (or something).

However, think about how powerful it would have been for any of your past romantic dates to actually know what you were looking for. This would have given your date a very good chance to make you fall on your knees and pop the question.

Take the same tension (stability/comfort versus excitement/progress) and think about Google ad sales professionals versus Yellow Pages ad sales people.

By default, Google sales professionals have to emphasise much more on stability as they already sell a very exciting and progressive product or brand. There is a good reason for Google to heavily promote their founders in public relations to gain the “stability” that most old school brick and mortar companies have by default.

Yellow Pages, on the other hand, is a long established company or brand with a very physical product. The company would need to emphasise much more on the progressiveness of their product and its salesmen to gain the trust of their customers.

For example, they need to understand their customers’ business much better than anybody else and be able to support their customer with progressive ideas to improve their business.

The other two tensions work similarly but with different trust dimensions. Once all three tensions and six dimensions are worked out, you will get a very clear picture about where you stand, and what you need to develop to increase the level of trust in your company and products.

There is a clear guideline on how to train your sales staff, adapt your message and even analyse your product portfolio. This approach to trust has been used with clients widely across countries and in various industries.

It works in any industry, any country and any context. After all, understanding your customers or business partners and building a trusted relationship is the golden key for trust and business success.