Selling is not so much about the features of our products or services—or even the benefits the customer receives. Rather, it is about our relationship with the customer. People do business with people they trust.

That does not mean people will not make an occasional purchase of a specific item or service from someone they do not trust, because most people will. However, those purchases tend to be exactly that—one-time purchases.

To generate consistent, repeat business, to generate high-quality referrals, and to generate larger, more profitable sales, you cannot rely on the occasional one-time purchaser. To build a sales business, you must develop a book of clients who trust you.

Most people will pay a little more, sacrifice a little, or wait a little longer when buying from someone whom they really trust and respect. The hard part is building the trust and then maintaining the trust.

What are the keys to building client trust?

1. Know what you are talking about

Customers and clients want to be able to trust that you know what you are talking about. When you tell them something, they want to be able to rely on what you said. If the information you relay turns out to be wrong, you have created a doubt. Create just a few doubts in a client's mind, and you have destroyed your ability to gain their trust.

So what do you do when you do not know the answer? Unlike many, if not most, salespeople, you do not make it up as you go along—or guess. You simply let the client know that you do not know but you will find out—and then find out. You might even be able to make a call to get the information while you are with the client. If you cannot, give a specific date and time your will provide the information. In addition, before calling, double-check to make sure the information is correct.

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Paul McCord is the author of Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals (John Wiley and Sons) and the upcoming Planning Your Success: The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Personal Marketing Plan. He is president of McCord and Associates, a sales-training and management-consulting firm. Reach him at or via