How would you define trust?

This word encompasses the ideas of integrity, reliability, credibility, and honesty — the necessary ground for forming any business relationship.

It might surprise you how many sales professionals fail to build trust with their clients — more than 81%, specifically.

Such a low level of trust can be explained by sales representatives often being extra pushy and failing to deliver on their promises, which inevitably leads to a bad reputation.

So, what can you do as a sales rep to succeed where many others fail? Here are five tips for you from PandaDoc.

1. Be integral

They say the harsh business world is not a place for moral principles — a statement we would like to dispute. Here is our suggestion: stand your ground!

Make sure to follow your principles, even if that means turning down a business that is not a good fit. Instead, consider referring your client elsewhere.

If that doesn’t convince you, think about selling long-term.

Of course, you can possibly gain immediate benefits by capitalizing on every potential opportunity, although that can also immediately make for a bad rep.

So show integrity and honesty, and your clients will be more inclined to recommend your business, providing you with a steady flow of new prospects (those based on personal recommendations are the most valuable ones, as any salesperson will tell you).

2. Develop a shared point of view

No one wants to be given a hard sale: it’s one of the most undermining feelings of being made a fool — especially when you end up buying something you didn’t want to (or didn’t meet your expectations).

In fact, this is how you sell yourself short — both figuratively and literally. So what’s the alternative here?

Make your clients see you as an expert, someone they can ask for advice and know you can provide it willingly with no strings attached.

That’s how you create a shared point of view and build rapport. Then — when the time comes and they need something specific you can provide — your sales process will take little to no convincing.

The best way to develop a shared perspective is to get your clients attracted to the same ideas as your business. Let’s take Apple as an example.

The company knew from the beginning that their target audience wanted sleek, technological, and beautiful gadgets — so they gave them exactly that!

3. Be dependable

One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make is they think they know what their clients need. In reality, the last thing your clients want is an arrogant sales rep who doesn’t bother to listen.

A good indication of your ability to hear about (and really absorb) client problems is how much you talk vs. how much you listen on sales calls.

Think about talking to your clients as if you were talking to your friend: make them feel valued and pay attention to their needs.

Once they feel trusted, they will open up more about their problems, giving you just enough information so you can identify a solution and carefully plan your next move.

Failing to hear them out can result in lost business opportunities.

Even if they don’t want a specific thing you’re trying to sell, maybe it’s because they just don’t want it now — or they might be interested in something else you have to offer.

But whatever you’re offering, make sure you know how it impacts your client’s business.

4. Diversify your offerings

Different clients might need different things in different capacities, so it always helps to diversify your offerings.

Adjust them accordingly and create more options!

Use conditional fields to allow your clients to handle paperwork more efficiently without constantly going back and forth.

With a simple IF/THEN logic, everything can be done in a single document with additional follow-up questions appearing on the go.

Creating more offers surely takes some time, especially if you are in a line of business where margins matter a lot.

Pricing tables can eliminate guesswork and prevent mistakes from happening due to lack of time and risks of miscalculation.

Automate as much as you can and free up time for value-added activities.

There are other ways to get creative with your sales strategies, such as discounts and special promotions.

Your loyal clients desire your utmost attention, so a personal touch can definitely fit in there.

5. Present nicely

A first impression matters! It tells a great deal about how you conduct your business.

The same goes for your sales collateral — it is definitely worth investing some time in creating something nice (yet informative) that could present your business in the best light possible.

Especially when it comes to handling contracts and proposals.

Presentation can be something other than getting fancy with design and such.

Conversely, it can be as straightforward as using adequate spacing, organizing texts in small blocks, and applying nice, clean headings.

These are simple tweaks, but they can make a considerable difference.

As your business grows, you’ll likely need all sorts of sales documents for various purposes.

At some point, it will simply get too time-consuming unless you use pre-built templates.

At PandaDoc, we accounted for all the different occasions and business demands where you might require a template, be it a sales quote, proposal, TOA, or even a contract.

Focus on trust, and don’t get lost in paperwork

When your sales approach doesn’t bring the desired outcomes, it’s time to stop and re-evaluate.

This doesn’t mean you need to stop whatever you’ve been doing completely — sometimes, it can be a single detail you need to change.

So start there, test one thing at a time, and you should notice how your results begin to improve.

Ultimately, building trust is all about human interactions.

As much as sales presentations, contracts, and proposals are important, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of interpersonal business relationships.

So focus on that and automate the rest, and you’ll see how much relief it is!


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Originally published December 15, 2020, updated April 4, 2023