The Process of Trust

(478 words)

In any sale, the buyer’s caution flag goes up at every point of the sale. Why? It’s the fear of risk. How do you overcome that natural aversion to risk? It’s by incrementally building trust at every step of the way.

The amount of trust needed is directly proportional to the buyer’s perceived risk. Write that down as a mathematical formula and put it on your wall if you wish.

First, establish a process with clearly defined phases. There might be six, four or even three phases in your process. Start working back from the end phase where you have a sale, a new client.

At that point the buyer’s trust is so high that the risk that they feel is overcome by their trust in you to deliver the benefits.

Notice the word “feel”. The prospect feels risk, the prospect feels trust. This is an emotional thing, not logical. They must increase their emotion of trust with each step of your process.

Your sales process must flow from low risk to high risk. So that commitment also flows from low commitment to high commitment. At each step trust must be increased for that prospect to overcome the fear of risk and make a commitment.

Examples of phases:

A face to face appointment presents a high risk. Appointments get cancelled, or declined, because prospects do not trust there will be enough value for them. They have to give you time, and fear the risk of being sold something. If the appointment is set after trust is established in a previous phase, then you will increase your success dramatically.

Directing someone to your website is a low risk for them. They get to build trust by learning about you and your services without you being present. The website should contain the offer for the next step, for example a seminar, or group meeting, or an appointment. Visiting your website should build enough trust for them to go the next phase in your process.

A presentation or demonstration can be a high risk event. Once again, they fear getting sold. But if you have built up enough trust to attend the demonstration, then you can establish enough trust for them to buy your services.

Build a simple picture of how your process flows from phase to phase, and the metrics for each phase clearly defined so you have a baseline to know how well you are doing.


These phases are not necessarily the right ones for your process for increasing trust. You need to discover your own best process. You will always find someone who jumps over a phase because trust is high enough, and that’s great. But the majority of prospects are not like that.

Remember our equation: Trust is directly proportional to perceived risk. Work to build that trust at each phase, and your sales will increase.


Copyright © 2009 Keith Center

Keith Center is the author of many articles and Money, Time & People… will kill your business, and co-author of Reducing Company Health Cost. Keith serves on Xavier University Department of Marketing Advisory Board. You may contact Keith through

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