Trusting a Salesperson Is Tough; Liking Is Easy

By John R. Aberle | Sales and Marketing

Oct 02
Graphic of two Boy Scouts

A scout is trustworthy.

My wife and I love the Los Angeles County Fair. It’s larger than many, if not most, state fairs. Variety and energy abound there. We especially enjoy browsing through the commercial buildings. In one of them, we stopped to check out the mattress display of a major Southern California mattress store chain. We appreciated the experience and expertise of our salesman. Moreover, because he was warmly friendly and not obviously pushy, we liked him right away. Trusting was tougher.

How he lost our trust

He promised to extend the fair pricing beyond the fair because we made it clear we were not in the position to invest $4400 in a new bed at this time. We appreciated this. However, then he sided with us as the buyers and shared a tip to save us some future money on one of the items in the package we were considering. In the last year before the end of the ten year warranty, he said we should find something wrong with the product so he could replace it under warranty.

While we each reacted immediately, we didn’t talk about it until the next day. It bothered both of us because it was dishonest. I know that a lot of people think there is nothing wrong with cheating on a warranty. And such a suggestion implies the salesperson is on our side, right? Wrong. Lying about a product’s failure so as to take advantage of the warranty is theft. It’s subtle, yet it’s a form of stealing.

Ironically, when you tell prospects how to take advantage of their employers or of the manufacturers – I’m not talking about discounts that are clearly stated in writing – you undermine your credibility. In other words, you prove what prospects already thought: you’re just another salesperson who can’t be trusted.

Trust, hard to earn, easy to toss away

Getting people to like you isn’t hard. Getting people to trust you enough you can help customers buy is tough. And the easiest thing to do is to lose that trust. Most often, you won’t be able repair the damage. Odds are you won’t even know that losing their trust cost you the sale. Prove you’re likable, knowable, and trust-able to find selling fun, fulfilling and mutually rewarding.


About the Author

I have a strong love for small businesses, especially brick and mortar companies. After an 18-year career in sales and marketing, I started my own service company, which I grew in both sales and profits for the first five years. In my sixth year, the bottom dropped out of the printer market such that it made more sense to sell my assets and return to Southern California. There I went to work for an international small business consulting company. I spent over three years on the road with them helping small businesses to become more profitable and better managed. I then started my own company specializing in sales and marketing consulting, coaching and training. My emphasis is on heart-centered, relationship selling that empowers prospects to make their own choices.