Ask most people to describe a salesperson, and "trustworthy" probably won't be their first choice of adjective.

In fact, if you type "salespeople are" into certain search engines, "salespeople are liars" is often among the top suggested searches—not exactly an ideal image for a professional whose success depends on establishing trusted relationships.

But trust is essential: If you want to stand any chance of making a sale, you absolutely must establish credibility with your buyers. Trust is a core element of every successful sale.

The Statistical Significance of Good Faith

The sales profession is often maligned—and sometimes with good reason. But there are professionals who have the discipline and integrity to earn their customers' confidence.

According to a new Edelman study that surveyed over 30,000 members of the general public, trust matters, even on a strictly business level. Actually, it matters a lot. Some of the more striking statistics from the study:

  • 80% of respondents bought certain products or services because they trusted the companies behind them.
  • 63% refused to buy products or services because they distrusted those companies.
  • 68% would recommend the products of a company they trusted to a friend or coworker.
  • 53% would criticize the products of a distrusted company and share that criticism with a friend or coworker.
  • 48% would share positive opinions of companies they trusted online.
  • 38% would share online criticisms of companies they didn't trust.

In other words, reputations matter. Trust matters. Failing to earn the confidence of your customers means you're significantly less likely to close the deal or win good press, and it might mean that you're doing your company an active disservice.

Four Steps to Credibility

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image of Donal Daly

Donal Daly is the co-founder and CEO of smart sales transformation company The TAS Group, and the author of the best-selling book, Account Planning in Salesforce.

LinkedIn: Donal Daly

Twitter: @donaldaly