top of page

How to cultivate trust in sales

Did you know that only 33% of salespeople are viewed as trustworthy?

That’s a bit worrisome given the axiom that “people buy from people they know, like, and trust.”

When you’re selling to a prospect, you might be overly concerned with being liked.

Maybe you come across as super friendly and chatty. Maybe you talk in circles in order to avoid making your offer. This doesn’t help build trust.

Instead, trust is created when you ask thoughtful questions, listen carefully to your prospects, and show you understand them.

How do you show you understand them? Share stories your prospect can identify with. Paint a vivid picture of a situation similar to theirs.

What happens as a result? Your prospect feels seen, heard, and understood. They know you can empathize with their situation. Now they trust you.

The brain chemistry of trust

In the presence of trust, your prospect gets a surge of oxytocin – the “bonding chemical” (hormone/neurotransmitter).

With oxytocin, your prospect is more open and receptive to the insight (and solutions) you can provide.

In the Braintrust “Driving Change” podcast, Jeff Bloomfield talks about the brain chemistry of trust. He emphasizes the importance of striking the right balance between oxytocin (the bonding chemical) and cortisol (the stress chemical) in our prospects.

If you present facts and data to your prospect before building trust, you risk spiking your prospect’s cortisol too early so that they perceive you as being the threat instead of the problem you can help them with.

Once trust is established, now is the time to bring your prospect’s attention to the problem or issue that your solution will help. They will have a small spike in cortisol as you discuss their problem, but now you are an ally in helping them overcome that problem.

Sound complicated? It all comes down to the fact that the biochemistry of emotion can heavily influence sales engagement outcomes.

The head and the heart in sales

Image of a brain and a heart
How to cultivate trust in sales

Did you know that the heart produces oxytocin in similar concentrations to what the brain produces? The heart and brain are continuously engaged in a dynamic, two-way dialogue with each organ influencing the other’s function. (1)

This is why we must engage both the head and the heart in our work.

If you’re overly cerebral with facts and figures while remaining unaware of the impact of emotion, you risk becoming ineffective or transactional at best.

The key is to strike the right balance between the two, with a keen awareness of the influence of emotion.

Even though we associate the brain with logic and reason, our brains are wired to process new information through the filter of threat/non-threat, and then with emotions, before considering facts and figures.

Lower your prospect's defenses, build trust, be aware of their emotional state, and then you can bring in data when appropriate.

A final thought on trust

Trust is paramount. It’s the foundation of honest communication in sales and in general.

Cultivate trust in your clients and prospects, but also cultivate trust within yourself.

Trust your instincts, and make judgements on what your heart tells you. The heart will not betray you.

-- David Gemmell



bottom of page