The Ultimate Competitive Advantage:
Trust and Respect

by Jacques Werth, Founder of High Probability Selling.  © 2003

Does your selling style address the most fundamental needs of your prospects?  What are the most important factors to someone making an important buying decision?

Universities and market research firms have conducted numerous studies to determine the most important buying decision factors for people who make significant purchases.  We gathered as many of those studies as we could find, and we averaged out the results.  Here are the results, most important first.

Rank Buying Decision Factor Score*
1. Level of Trust in the Salesperson 87
2. Level of Respect for the Salesperson 82
3. Reputation of the Company or Product 76
4. Features of the Product or Service 71
5. Quality and Service 58
6. Price (non-commodity) 16
12. Like the Salesperson (rapport) 3

*Score = the percentage of buyers who included that decision factor in their top 5 factors

The average salesperson knows how to effectively present 4 of the 7 factors cited above: Reputation (#3), Features (#4), Quality and Service (#5), and Rapport (#12).  They try to handle the two most important buying decision factors, Trust (#1) and Respect (#2), by establishing Rapport (#12).

Building “Rapport” is an inherently manipulative tactic.  Ironically, typical salespeople attempt to establish Trust and Respect, non-manipulative factors, by manipulating people.  Building rapport doesn't establish trust and respect, it diminishes trust and respect.  That's why only 3% of all buyers surveyed rated “Like the Salesperson” as an important buying decision factor.

If Trust and Respect are so important, then why don't most salespeople learn how to establish relationships of trust and respect with their prospects and customers?  We've come to the conclusion that there are three reasons:

Let's suppose you're faced with a very important buying decision.  Let's say you have decided to relocate thirty miles away from where you live now, so that you and your spouse will both have shorter commutes to work.  So, you need to sell your current home and buy a new one.  To whom would you entrust the sale of your most valued possession?  Are you going to entrust the sale of your house to a charming and friendly Realtor who tells you that they have the best marketing system, the best skills, the best negotiating ability, and affiliation with the biggest real estate firm?  Or, will you hire the Realtor whom you trust and respect the most to sell your most valued possession?

Regardless of whether you sell to consumers or B-2-B, all sales are made to people.  When the sales are significant, most people want to buy from someone they trust and respect.  Why?  Fear of loss is the most important buying motivation.  You could lose tens of thousands in the hands of an untrustworthy Realtor.  At work, choosing an unreliable vendor could cost you a raise, a promotion, or your job.

If you learn a process that establishes relationships of mutual trust and respect with prospects during your first conversation with them, you will have the ultimate competitive advantage.  If not, hope to be the most persuasive salesperson your prospects meet - and hope that someone who practices High Probability Selling isn't your competitor!