It’s no surprise that trust is crucial for succeeding in sales. Developing a relationship with your prospects is essential for gaining that trust. Once you’ve earned a prospect’s trust, you will have a much easier time converting them into a longtime customer.
While we think of trust-building as a social process, it’s just as much a neurological one. You’ve likely heard of the hormone called oxytocin in the brain. Well, this hormone is actually super important for developing trust and connecting emotions. In an experiment conducted by Paul Zak, the results show that increased oxytocin in the brain reduces the fear of trusting a stranger. Paul Zak refers to oxytocin as “the trust molecule.”
Greater amounts of oxytocin levels in the brain are associated with greater relaxation, more willingness to trust others, and psychological stability. That being said, increasing your prospect’s oxytocin is key to establishing trust.
So how exactly can a salesperson increase a prospect’s oxytocin levels? After processing 10 years of sales communication data, here are our top 5 suggestions:
1. Establish credibility
It’s proven that humans naturally fear the unknown. Psychology research suggests humans like the ability to anticipate the consequences of situations. This is compared to the act of falling; we are scared of falling because we don’t know how it will end. Establishing credibility is vital to gaining comfortability. Once your prospect is comfortable with you, the trust can be built.
That being said, a way to establish credibility is by providing hard data about the results to your prospect or customer. Give them helpful advice and information so they will count on you. But first, you need to establish yourself as an authoritative figure.
Credibility reduces the fear that humans are naturally prone to develop in unfamiliar situations. When you make your prospect feel comfortable, this will only result in greater amounts of oxytocin hormone levels, which allows your prospect to feel relaxed.
2. Show empathy
Show genuine concern in your prospect and be a person. Unlocking empathy in sales is a tactic all salespeople should know. Here are essential steps for leveraging empathy in sales:
- Step into the buyer’s shoes
- Identify their problem and offer solutions
- Ask questions that exhibit genuine curiosity
- Listen, but make sure it’s empathetic listening
- Remain in your customer’s shoes until the end
3. Provide nonverbal cues
Your nonverbal communication is just as crucial as your verbal communication. Scientific studies confirm that body language is all-important when it comes to forming relationships – first impressions, forming new relationships, and maintaining old ones.
The 7%-38%-55% rule, hypothesized by psychologist Albert Mehrabian, points to three elements that inform first impressions:
- Words are 7% of the message
- Tone of voice is 38%
- Body language is 55%
Here are our key tips to gaining trust through nonverbal cues:
Eye contact: In a study, published by the Society of Participatory Medicine, psychologists monitored videotapes of doctor visits and analyzed the interactions they had with their patients. They found that the most important factor for patients gaining their doctor’s trust was the amount of eye contact the doctor made with them.
To build rapport with another person, your gaze should meet theirs about 70-80% of the time. Research shows that eye-contact should last roughly 7-10 seconds in a one-on-one conversation. In this study, Ben Decker states that people who make little eye contact are often viewed as untrustworthy, unknowledgeable, and nervous.
Smile: Smiling can make the person much more likable and trustworthy. A study shows that a smile can increase someone’s willingness to trust by 10%. It never hurts to smile, and it will actually increase your trustworthiness more than you think.
Tone of voice: In an analysis of 120 executive speeches, they found that the sound of a speaker’s voice matters twice as much as the message itself. The best way to moderate your tone of voice is: use pitch variation and avoid sounding monotone, slow down when speaking, and use expressive speech.
4. Be consistent
A customer or prospect is much more likely to trust you if your behavior is consistent over time. Studies show that when a customer can predict your behavior, they are much more likely to trust you. If you are consistent, this reduces fear, which ultimately increases the trust molecule of oxytocin.
Our key tip to remaining consistent is to follow a process – consistent activities deliver consistent results. Also, make sure to follow through with your client and keep your promises. You have to not only gain their trust but maintain it. And remember, trust can be broken.
5. Make a connection
Making a connection with your prospect is fundamental to building trust. This can even be a great conversation starter that will engage your prospect in seconds. Some ideas for doing so:
Shared Interest: According to the similarity-attraction effect, people want to be around others with common attitudes, values, and preferences. This is because of social reinforcement; similarity attracts because people enjoy when someone possesses opinions and worldviews that validate their own. Social reinforcement increases oxytocin levels, allowing the person to form a social bond.
Mutual Connections: Making a mutual connection is a great tool for conversation starters and building a connection with the person. Finding a mutual connection can be as simple as looking on LinkedIn.
Ask for their opinion: By asking for their opinion, you will show you care and respect their views. When someone feels as though you care about their point of view, trust is more likely to occur earlier.
Trust is essential to every sales equation
Developing trust isn’t the easiest process, but if you work on it and follow these five key strategies, you’re going to be considered far more trustworthy in the eyes of your prospect. But remember, you can’t fake empathy, so when you genuinely care about your customers – trust will be offered much more freely.