Persuasion vs Trust

It’s harder to trust someone whose first thought is to influence my purchase decision, even if their intentions are good.

by Jacques Werth and Carl Ingalls

It’s harder to trust someone whose first thought is to influence my purchase decision.  Even if I can see that they only want to steer me toward something they think will be good for me, I know that they are not focused on listening to what I want, and that it’s going to be a time-consuming transaction at best.  If I wanted their help in making a purchase decision, I would ask for it.

Trust takes more than just good intentions.  Knowing that someone’s intention is to persuade me to go with something that they believe will be better for me is not enough, and especially if they haven’t listened.   Many terrible things have been done by people with good intentions.   I also need to trust in their ability to hear me well, and also in their ability to make good judgments based upon what they hear.  If they start out with anything at all that suggests a desire to influence me, then they have failed on both of those counts.

I would rather do business with someone who listens to what I want and helps me get it, than with someone who wants to change my mind.

Author: Carl Ingalls

Administrator for High Probability Selling Blog

9 thoughts on “Persuasion vs Trust”

  1. Well said. I have noticed that when a sales person uses words that convey an opinion or evaluation, such as “great,” “fabulous,” “excellent,” or even “good,” I am immediately suspicious. I don’t want or trust their evaluation or description. I want facts.

    The old sales mantra of “Sell benefits, not features” is incorrect, in my experience. It should say “Sell features, not benefits.” When they tell me about benefits, they are telling me their opinion, which is often not mine.

    One of the most often areas where this happens today is in products calling themselves “environmentally friendly” or “green.” Personally, while I am not trying to intentianally destroy the environment, I am unwilling to pay 10-50% more for a product with a “green” label on it that does the same thing as one without it.


  2. Persuasion in selling is best engaged with someone who 1)has a problem and/or challenge you can solve, and 2)has already expressed a desire to hear your thoughts on how you propose to help.

    The fact is, we are persuading or dissuading the moment we begin communicating–even the very tone of one’s voice ‘persuades.’


    1. Hello Russ,

      My clients always meet the two criteria that you said justify using persuasion in selling. They all have a problem and/or challenge that I can solve, and they always express a desire to hear my thoughts on how I propose to help. However, I am more successful when I do not attempt to persuade.

      Even when my clients are paying me to tell them what to do, and to convince them why they should do it, I do neither. I have to “sell” them on every piece of advice I give them, and persuasion just doesn’t have the success rate that non-persuasive methods have.

      It is very important to me that my clients take my advice, because if they don’t, then they won’t benefit from it. And if they don’t benefit from my advice, then they will soon stop paying me to give it to them. That’s why I gave up persuasion.

      When my clients do decide to hire me to advise them, and when they do decide to take the advice that I give them, it is not because I have persuaded them. They persuade themselves.

      Carl Ingalls


  3. Just this past Friday, I was in a vitamin store chain to purchase a supplement.

    The sales woman was high pressure, attempting to persuade me to buy two bottles of these same supplements, getting the second one 50% off. For my own reasons, I did not want to do so.

    Yet, she continued to overcoming my objections, in effect, telling me I was wrong, how I was missing out on savings, etc.

    I stood my ground and bought the single bottle of supplement. However, I walked out saying to myself, “I’ll never go back in there again.”


    1. Hello Vin,

      If you are selling solutions, then you will be far more successful if you look for and focus only on people who already want those solutions.

      If you are selling the ability to find problems that customers don’t know they have, then be direct about what you are selling, and find people who want precisely that.

      It’s not that “solution selling” doesn’t work. It works just well enough, and makes just enough sense, so that most salespeople will continue to struggle with it. When they are ready to let go of the thinking behind it, then they may be ready to try something else.

      Carl Ingalls


  4. I understand that years ago you had some experts study the psychology of unresolved childhood conflicts and their affect on people’s ability to trust, as well as the likelihood you can trust them.

    Does this type of psychological pattern have a name? Is it a recognized syndrome or affliction?



  5. Devin,

    It didn’t actually happen that way. I had been conducting my own research, carefully observing and recording what the top producing salespeople actually do. I had noticed that most of them asked new prospects some very personal questions about their past.

    When I discussed this discovery with some psychology professionals, they explained that this is a well known method for accelerating the process of connecting with their patients. A few of them helped me understand why and how it works, as well as how to streamline the process so that it is better suited to selling.

    We call this modified process the “Trust and Respect Inquiry”. We use it to help the seller and the buyer decide very quickly whether there can be sufficient mutual trust and respect to do business with each other, or not.

    Please note that the presence or absence of “unresolved childhood conflicts” is not the main question. It’s not a simple black and white thing. Understanding and using the Trust and Respect Inquiry takes interactive coaching and practice. It can’t be taught in a blog.

    You also asked about whether there was any “recognized syndrome or affliction” associated with this method. I don’t know. I never asked.



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