Is ‘Trust’ a Real Sales Approach? Buyers Hope So

LinkedIn recently surveyed more than 7,500 B2B buyers and sellers to uncover the state of sales. The data revealed that B2B buyers highly value not solution benefits or fancy branding — but trust. In fact, 58% ranked “trustworthy” as one of the most important traits a salesperson can possess. Ultimately, 89% of B2B buyers describe the sellers they choose to move forward with as a “trusted advisor.”

B2B sellers more often than not believe they are trustworthy too. In that same LinkedIn survey, 65% of sellers say they always put their buyer first. In a TrustRadius buyer disconnect survey, 85% of B2B sellers too say they are open and honest about their solution during the sales process.

Yet, there remains a disconnect. Buyers just are not seeing sellers as trustworthy as they believe they appear. B2B sellers say “we are putting you first”—and only 23% of buyers believe it. B2B sellers swear they are telling their solution as it is, yet only 36% of buyers trust they are.

Sellers must overcome the initial distrust buyers harbor in order to get deals done. The question, of course, is how to get from Point A (distrust) to Point B (trust). We have some time-tested approaches for doing just that.


Trust is an intangible — but important — notion. It exists in minds as impressions or opinions. It is built by repeated actions taken in honesty and service. And in order to serve your buyer well and foster meaningful trust, you first must understand the new B2B decision-maker.

The previously mentioned TrustRadius survey revealed that millennials now make up the largest segment of B2B technology buyers. With this generational shift comes a shift in values, preferences and needs. Today’s buyer is more empowered and skilled at seeking out solutions on their own. They also are under greater pressures and constraints in making decisions.

In our recent “Deal Breakers and Deal Makers” article, we detail further what buyers care about and how sellers can make their decision-making easier. Making the sale as seamless as possible is important too: In a recent Gartner report, 77% of B2B buyer respondents rated their latest purchase as very complex or difficult. That “friction” seeds distrust in the buyer-seller relationship.


How can sellers approach trust strategically and bridge the gap with distrustful buyers? It takes sincerity and long-term commitment.

Leave behind the marketing speak. Authenticity, clarity and value resonate with buyers much more than clever, over-branded turns of phrase. Enable your salespeople with the right tools and skills to have meaningful conversations about your solution. A good place to start is by crafting a powerful value proposition worksheet.

Put your solution in your buyer’s hands. Buyers do not want to just hear about all the value your solution will bring — they want to experience it directly to see how it will fit their specific needs and their specific setup. Explore how demonstrations and trial runs can fit into your sales process as a way to prove you understand their situation (their challenges and pain) and have a solution (a “pain killer”) as a remedy.

Connect your buyers with your current customers. Buyers want authentic insights. But no matter how hard your salespeople try to share these, sellers will always maintain a bit of skepticism. It is your solution, your organization after all. So do not just have your sellers talk to the prospective buyer. Build a network of current customers who are succeeding with your solution and advocating for embracing the need for change as well as the need for changing with your solution — and then connect them to your buyer for honest, insightful conversations, buyer-to-buyer.

Tell the whole story of your solution, not just the good stuff. Sellers tend to spout only the good of a solution. Here are all the benefits and outcomes you can expect. Here are all the super awesome mega amazing things we can sell you! Yet pothing is nerfict. (See what I did there?) And your buyer knows that. Do not have your sellers disparage your solution. Rather, provide an honest assessment of your solution’s limitations and constraints. Likely, if you do connect the buyer with any of your current customers, they will hear it anyway. And it will be all the more powerful if it came first from your sellers.


As a seller, your purpose is to serve your buyers’ and customers’ needs. This is regardless whether or not their needs can be solved by your solution alone. When your sellers genuinely help a buyer, in whatever way possible, trust is born. And with trust comes a long-term relationship where value is openly and repeatedly exchanged — if not now, then certainly later.

To embrace the game-changing Seek to Serve, Not to Sell® approach, download our organizational guide here.