People are reluctant to trust sales pros right off the bat, so if you’re looking to build trust in sales, you’ll need to take a leaf out of Detective Bill Goetz’ book. On November 22, 2010, Jennifer Pan, a Canadian college student, was brought in for questioning by Detective Goetz about her parents’ death. After an interrogation that spanned three days, Pan finally broke down into a confession: she had hired three former classmates to stage a home invasion and murder her parents. The motive? She was sick of their “tiger parenting,” a strict parenting style that demands academic success and a high-status career. 

Goetz got the confession by gaining Jennifer’s trust early on. Well, it seems law enforcement and sales reps have one thing in common: they need trust from their prospect (or suspect) in order to close the deal (or case). In Linkedin’s State of Sales report, 40% of US sales professionals rank trust as the #1 factor in closing deals, and 51% of decision-makers rank trust as a top factor when working with salespeople. 

With the right moves, you can extract valuable information from a tight-lipped prospect, building trust in sales and getting your pitches answered. We’ll be using more techniques from a law enforcement expert to do just that.

Why It’s Important to Build Trust in Sales

Trust is crucial because it gets you chosen over other solicitors. When receiving calls, emails, or social media messages, prospects take less than a second to decide who’s worthy of their time. So, they’ll pay attention to surface-level things (the company you work for, your name and face, the way you speak) before they even get to the meat of your pitch. These kinds of snap judgments might seem unfair, and they are, but that’s sales for you. 

When you craft a well-thought-out brand—comprised of your skillset, public image, reputation, core beliefs and values; your personality; your vision; and the way you communicate—when all of this is cohesive, clear, and consistent, it will signal to your prospect that it might be of value to keep listening.


Trust in sales is shown when your prospect can share sensitive information.

An FBI Agent Spills His Top Secrets to Gaining Trust Instantly

Robin Dreeke is a former FBI Special Agent, Chief of the Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program and the author of It’s Not All About Me: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone. Besides training law enforcement officers, Dreeke teaches sales professionals on gaining trust and understanding a prospect’s mindset. Let’s take a look at a few of his techniques: 

1) Show love—but don’t love bomb

Trust in sales means making the entire conversation about them. Dreeke says, “Our brain rewards us chemically when we are able to talk and share our own views, priorities, and goals.” Every question or comment should push prospects to share more of themselves, increasing that positive feeling. However, you should never love bomb, or give so much attention and compliments that it comes off disingenuous.

Trust-based selling tip: Don’t start with a hard pitch. Ease your way into the pitch with an icebreaker; this could be referencing something you’ve seen them mention on social media, or addressing a current event that affects their business. 

2) Get rid of manipulative words 

Dreeke states, “When people feel they are objects, the trust will not be built. I tend to not think of anyone trying to manipulate me but at times a very self-serving agenda becomes evident.” Self-serving means there’s no reciprocity in the relationship, the salesperson simply wants to close quickly and dip. Prospects can instantly sense manipulation through buzzwords like innovative, disruptive, revolutionary, or cutting-edge. They’re overused, vague, and usually exaggerated. 

Trust-based selling: Reading two sentences side-by-side, audiences tend to think the simple sentence is more believable than the one filled with jargon. Don’t be afraid to show personality and use regional or cultural slang, but keep your language simple and accessible.

3) Sprinkle in some self-deprecating humor

To build trust in sales, don’t be afraid to poke fun at yourself. Many comedians use self-deprecating humor to say, “Hey, look at me, I’m a human and make mistakes too.” When you admit your faults, prospects will trust you to be more honest and upfront when something goes wrong.

Trust-based selling tip: To use self-deprecating humor without sabotaging your chances of closing the deal, validate your prospect’s concerns, even if you don’t agree. Dreeke says to ask, “That’s a thoughtful opinion… would you mind helping me understand how you came up with it?” Make a lighthearted joke, state it won’t happen again, and then move on.

4) Talk about social issues

Decision-makers get plenty of similar pitches, but how many offers align with their values? In his book, Dreeke mentions helping someone and asking for a favor by framing it around a good cause: “If you can wrap the help/favor you are looking for around a priority and interest of the individual you are engaging, the odds of success increase.” 

Trust-based selling tip: To get decision-makers to trust salespeople, research to see if the prospect has mentioned any social issues you’re both passionate about. Or find out if their company supports a certain cause and integrate it into your own social media content to nurture them. 

Trust in sales is the first step to getting a prospect's attention.

Your next steps to building trust in sales 

  • Stop talking about you: The conversation should feature your prospect front and center. Too many emails begin with the salesperson explaining their name, company, and product; start off addressing why the offer is valuable to them and why they should keep reading.
  • Don’t assume the problem: You never want to craft your pitch around an assumption. Guessing what goes on behind the scenes can annoy and insult your prospect; simply ask what their problem is going forward.
  • Walk away from money: Say no to a sale when you know it’s not the right time, budget, or fit. Always recommend alternative solutions that fit them better. Prospects will remember how you helped them and appreciate your integrity.

When people have faith in you, they’ll tell you their deepest secrets—maybe even confess to a murder. If you need another way to extract valuable information (like firmographics) on your prospects, sign up for Lusha.

Liked reading this article? spread the word

Sign up for our newsletter

Stories, tips, and tools to inspire and help you gain insight.
Subscribe to get curated content delivered directly to your inbox.

    Thank you for subscribing

    This information should not be mistaken for legal advice. Please ensure that you are prospecting and selling in compliance with all applicable laws.

    Get Started with Lusha Extension