Building Trust

By Heather Baldwin

It’s no secret that clients buy only from salespeople they trust. Give a customer the option of buying a product from someone he knows and trusts or buying that same product, for 10 percent less, from someone he doesn’t trust, and in almost every case he’ll pay the higher price to do business with salesperson #1. So how can you build that trust during your next presentation? “By trusting yourself and truly knowing who you are and what you offer to others,” says Sam Christensen, founder of Sam Christensen Studios ( in Los Angeles.

That may sound trite, but Christensen has spent a decade working with more than 10,000 clients, and he has found that when people can identify what is unique and compelling about themselves – and then verbalize in a positive manner those traits that others already see – it immediately creates a bond of trust. Why? “When you put forth a public self-awareness of who you are, you pave the way for a trusting relationship,” says Christensen. “Your publicly stated self-awareness relieves your clients of their discomfort with the fact that you may or may not know the image you’re portraying.” In other words, addressing a characteristic that could potentially be seen as a flaw “takes the burden of the relationship off the clients and lets them know that you are ‘onto yourself’ and that your pitch is sincere and genuine,” he says.

Christensen, for example, once worked with a real estate agent who was “lighthearted and wacky and people loved her, but because of that wackiness they were concerned about her attention to detail,” he says. The agent found a series of ways to say up front that she was “the airhead who gets everything done.” The result: Concerned potential clients were immediately relieved to know that she recognized she was a bit flighty, but she would never miss details. She has since tripled her sales.

How can you use this knowledge in your next sales presentation? Find ways to inject into that presentation a phrase or two showing that you really know yourself. Say you’re speaking to a large group and have never been comfortable talking in front of that many people. You might say, “Forgive me if I seem a little nervous, but I’m kind of a one-on-one relationship person.” Your audience, says Christensen, is likely to think, “‘Yup, that’s what I thought. He must really know himself.’ You create a bond automatically.”

The key to making these acknowledgements work is to address character traits you have, not ones you wished you had. “It’s really about capitalizing on who you are and putting the best shine on the negative stuff, but acknowledging it,” Christensen says. “It’s not about me convincing people that I’m a certain way. Instead, it’s about saying things about myself that are true. That level of self-acceptance causes trust and ease that people can’t get any other way.”

For more tips on building trust click here.