Trust and Respect – The Ultimate Competitive Advantage

by Jacques Werth

Does your selling style address the most fundamental needs of your prospects? What are the most important factors to someone making an important buying decision?

Universities and market research firms have conducted numerous studies to determine the most important buying decision factors for people who make significant purchases. We gathered as many of those studies as we could find, and did simple correlation analyses to average out the results. Here are the results, in order of importance.

Weighted Values* of Buying Decision Factors(c)

1. Level of Trust in the Salesperson: 87
2. Level of Respect for the Salesperson: 82
3. Reputation of the Company or Product: 76
4. Features of the Product or Service: 71
5. Quality and Service: 58
6. Price (non-commodity): 16
12. Like the Salesperson (rapport): 3
      *(Weight = percentage of people listing each factor in their top 5)

The average salesperson knows how to effectively present 4 of the 7 factors cited above: Reputation (#3), Features (#4), Quality and Service (#5), and Rapport (#12). Most salespeople try to handle the two most important buying decision factors, Trust (#1) and Respect (#2), by establishing Rapport (#12).

Building “Rapport” is an inherently manipulative tactic. Ironically, typical salespeople attempt to establish Trust and Respect, non-manipulative factors, by manipulating people. Building rapport doesn’t establish trust and respect, it diminishes trust and respect. That’s why only 3% of all buyers surveyed rate ‘Like the Salesperson’ as an important buying decision factor.

If Trust and Respect are so important, why don’t most salespeople learn how to establish relationships of trust and respect with their prospects and customers? We’ve come to the conclusion that there are three reasons:

  1. Most salespeople don’t know that it can be done.
  2. If they learn a process that develops that kind of relationship, they feel uncomfortable using it because it’s very unconventional.
  3. Trust and Respect are very personal emotions, and sharing emotions is commonly regarded as only suitable for intimate relationships. Most salespeople have a fear of intimacy. Yet, we’ve found that less than 1/2 of 1 percent of prospects and customers have a fear of intimacy.

Let’s suppose you’re faced with a very important buying decision. Let’s say you have decided to relocate thirty miles away from where you live now, so that you and your spouse will both have shorter commutes to work. So, you need to sell your current home and buy a new one. To whom would you entrust the sale of your most valued possession? Are you going to entrust the sale of your house to a charming and friendly Realtor who tells you that they have the best marketing system, the best skills, the best negotiating ability, and affiliation with the biggest real estate firm? Or, will you hire the Realtor whom you trust and respect the most to sell your most valued possession?

Regardless of whether you sell to consumers or B-2-B, all sales are made to people. When the sales are significant, most people want to buy from someone they trust and respect. Why? Fear of loss is the most important buying motivation. You could lose tens of thousands in the hands of an untrustworthy Realtor. At work, choosing an unreliable vendor could cost you a raise, a promotion, or your job.

If you learn a process that establishes relationships of mutual trust and respect with prospects during your first conversation with them, you will have the ultimate competitive advantage. If not, hope to be the most persuasive salesperson your prospects meet- and hope that someone who practices High Probability Selling isn’t your competitor!

 If you want to learn how to make trust and respect your competitive advantage, click here.

Until Next Time…Sell Well

Jacques Werth, President
High Probability Selling

Copyright 2007.


Tags: How+to+sell, The+secret+to+selling, Selling+and+Persuasion

Author: Carl Ingalls

Administrator for High Probability Selling Blog

11 thoughts on “Trust and Respect – The Ultimate Competitive Advantage”

  1. Hi Jacques

    I dont understand how most sales people can have a fear of initimacy and 1/2 of 1 % of prospects and customers have a fear of intimacy. Where did you get these fiqures from and how did you come up with this outcome?


    1. Our current target for this blog is to create two posts each week, and at least one of them will be an article related to High Probability Selling. Some of those articles will be about Trust and Respect between the salesperson and the prospect or customer.


  2. Josh,

    Most of the best salespeople, including top producing graduates of our courses, keep accurate statistics on everything that they do. Hundreds of them have shared their results with us.


  3. Jacques,

    I wanted to congratulate you on having this post selected to be part of February’s Carnival of Trust, hosted this month by Bret L.Simmons.

    The Carnival of Trust is a monthly showcase of the top blogposts dealing with the subject of trust in business, politics and society. Your post highlights a key issue in how establishing trust between a salesperson and a potential customer really is the key to making a sale. Proving yourself to be trustworthy is what we, as consumers, look for when we open ourselves up to listen to sales pitches.

    Congratulations again. To see the Carnival, please go to:



  4. The observation that salespeople are much more likely than the general population to have a fear of intimacy makes a lot of sense. Most salespeople I’ve ever known or worked with are a broke, desperate, angry, and frightened bunch. Attempting to make a living in sales often represents a last-ditch attempt to hold their lives together. Finding themselves in such bleak circumstances is likely connected to having personality disorders that include an inability to tolerate emotional intimacy. A major reason the sales process is so difficult for all concerned is the type of person who self-selects to become a salesman. They are usually without any other job options. Self-esteem issues make them willing to accept abuse from managers and customers, and then prone to passive-aggressive behavior. Customers may think salespeople are greedy, but it’s really fear and desperation they are sensing. Establishing an emotional connection on any level is not at all likely when the two parties are in such different places in life and personal development.
    That’s the key dilemma about working in sales; being successful at it requires having a comfort level with yourself that most salespeople will never possess.


  5. Mike’s depiction of many salespeople who fail is accurate. His last sentence is profound. However, it is possible for many to remediate those problems.

    A good start is to read each of the following books several times.
    “The Ultimate Happiness Prescription” by Dr. Deepak Chopra
    “Radical Honesty” by Dr. Brad Blanton
    “Power vs. Force” by Dr. David Hawkins

    All that reading may be too late to save some sales careers, but (perhaps) not too late to save some lives.


  6. For me the best advantage would be differentiation. You have to be different to get noticed. If you offer exactly the same thing that your competitors offer, then what’s the use?


  7. Eric,

    There is a very effective and unique way to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Be authentic and completely truthful about the Features, Benefits and Detriments of your products and services. Your competitors are unlikely to ever mention the detriments of what they sell.

    Your prospects will notice the difference.



  8. While watching the 11/30/2010 Charlie Rose show I was reminded of High Probability Selling’s emphasis on trust and respect. Charlie Rose was interviewing Dennis Blair, former United States Director of National Intelligence and retired United States Navy admiral, about the confidential American diplomatic cables made public recently by WikiLeaks. In response to a comment by Admiral Blair about the necessity for trust in international relations, Charlie Rose said, “The trust element is always intriguing to me, because I’ve had one person after another, at the highest level, say, ‘The trust factor and the personal relationship factor is crucial to getting things done.’ They will come to me and they say, ‘Yes, policy is important; yes, making the right decision is important. But execution is dependent on being able to look across the table and say, here’s a man or a woman I can trust,’ and–to quote Margaret Thatcher, famously–‘can do business with.’ ” (A video of the interview is available at


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