Best Practices

Climb The Trust Ladder To Increase Results In Prospecting

Gabe Larsen

Here is a strategy that utilizes the trust ladder to help you reach the highest level of rapport or trust with a prospect. Read on to learn how you can use it to increase your results on a prospecting call.

RELATED: Building Rapport With Customers: 3 Steps To Build Trust In Minutes

In this article:

  1. What Is the Trust Ladder?
  2. How Do You Climb the Trust Ladder and Build-Up Trust When Prospecting a Potential Customer?
  3. Develop Familiarity for Better Sales Prospecting
  4. Build Your Credibility as Sales Professionals
  5. Use the Trust Ladder for Better Sales Prospecting

Prospecting and the Power of the Trust Ladder

After you’ve done your research and identified your qualified leads, it’s time to start prospecting. Keep in mind that the biggest issue you need to overcome is the lack of trust between you and your prospect.

Prospecting Definition: Prospecting is the first step to any sales process where you are looking for a new customer, a.k.a. your prospect. The goal of this part of the sales process is to turn your prospects into actual customers.

Using the Trust Ladder allows you to use your first few seconds to establish trust. This way, people are open to letting your conversation continue to find out enough about you to listen with an open mind.

What Is the Trust Ladder?

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Trust ladder

Imagine a ladder with twelve steps leading up to a destination you are trying to go. The destination is a relationship of trust with the person you are talking to.

This is the “Trust Ladder” you should picture when you’re sales prospecting. It will give you a better view of how your prospects see you.

On that note, you are the salesperson standing at the bottom of this ladder that represents levels of inherent trust. There is one important thing you better realize first…

They don’t trust you.

You are at the bottom of the Trust Ladder; you aren’t even on it. The person they trust the most is themselves.

They are on the top of the Trust Ladder and there are many steps in between. The higher up you go on the Trust Ladder to begin a conversation, the more inherent trust you have and the better your conversation will go.

How Do You Climb the Trust Ladder and Build-Up Trust When Prospecting a Potential Customer?

Each step up the Trust Ladder incrementally increases the inherent trust. Thus, you want to find sales prospecting techniques and other sales practices that will help you build trust.

From what you can observe on the rungs of the Trust Ladder, you’ll find two common qualities to find in the kinds of people who your potential customer finds trustworthy:

  • Familiarity
  • Credibility

The Trust Ladder is based on whether you’re familiar or credible to your prospects.

Whether you’re talking to them through cold calling, email, or on social media, sales prospecting will go much smoother if you are familiar and credible to them.

Once you are able to build familiarity and credibility, trust will follow and you can soon rise up in the Trust Ladder of your prospects. This will make prospecting a much smoother sales process for you.

Develop Familiarity for Better Sales Prospecting

There is a phenomenon in Psychology that describes how people tend to prefer things only because it’s familiar to them. They call it the Mere-Exposure effect.

Aside from that, we develop a sense of wariness of strangers at around 8 months old. Although we can get rid of stranger anxiety as we age, we’re not naturally predisposed towards letting strangers into our lives.

This fact puts salespeople in a difficult situation where they must be able to overcome that wall. Hence, you must learn to plant familiarity in your prospects’ minds.

There are many ways to plant familiarity.

Here are a few simple ways you can try:

  • Constant communication: Constant communication doesn’t mean annoying your prospect with unceasing talk. Instead, follow up accordingly and answer any questions they may have.
  • Introduce yourself: This sales prospecting technique is especially powerful if you’re cold-calling a prospect. The simple act of introducing who you are can make all the difference in developing familiarity in your prospects.
  • Don’t be too peppy: Being overly enthusiastic when cold calling your prospects can seem unnatural and turn them away even before you get to the sales talk. Keep it natural and stay calm when talking to them.

There are several other ways to try and develop a sense of familiarity between you and a prospect. Do your research.

A little trial and error can go help you discover which prospecting techniques will help you get the best results.

RELATED: 3 Steps To Build Trust In 3 Minutes

Build Your Credibility as Sales Professionals

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Achieving great results in sales by building trust with prospects

Familiarity isn’t the only thing that will push your prospects to trust you. Additionally, you should also build your credibility so prospects can truly trust you.

Building credibility may be more important than creating familiarity. In fact, if you build up quite a reputation for yourself, familiarity can even be an added side-effect.

When you look at the higher rungs on the Trust Ladder, you’ll see those who are on top are both credible and familiar in the eyes of your potential client. The ones near the top are those with high credibility.

Hence, developing your credibility is crucial to pushing your prospect further into the sales process with you. There are several ways to help you build credibility.

Here are some of the more tried and tested ones to check out:

  • Invest in Content Marketing: One way to develop your authority in the industry is by contributing relevant information about it. With excellent content marketing, you’re easy to recognize and you establish yourself as an industry expert the more times you create content. This investment will reap you rewards later on when you’ve established your brand as an authority and a trustworthy name in the industry.
  • Do your research: One of the best prospecting tools is research. Know your target customers and their pain points and you are sure to get them listening to you.
  • Listen to your target customers: Speaking of getting them to listen, an important skill in sales prospecting is listening. A truly great sales professional knows when to speak and when to listen, so practice the art of listening.
  • Boost your social media presence: Your prospects might find you better on social media. Therefore, make sure you provide relevant tips and information on your social media profile as well.

Use the Trust Ladder for Better Sales Prospecting

Once you’re a familiar and credible entity, you’re more likely to climb up the Trust Ladders of your potential customers.

By keeping in mind the Trust Ladder when you’re prospecting, you ensure you set your focus on your prospecting goals. Aside from that, you keep yourself in the moment of prospecting instead of looking towards simply closing a deal.

Use the Trust Ladder to remind yourself to focus on building trust first before thinking of closing a sale. One step (of the ladder) at a time.

(This is a small excerpt from the book Dave Elkington and I have written.)

By knowing more about the Trust Ladder and what it means for your sales prospecting, you become better at building trust. Plus, you create a smoother transition in the sales process between a potential customer to a current customer.

Aside from the Trust Ladder, what do you keep in mind when trying to build trust in your prospects? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 23, 2011, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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