How Do Executives Decide Whether
or Not to Trust You?

How Do Executives Decide Whether or Not to Trust You?

by: Rob Reed

In interviews, researchers asked executives ranging from vice president to chairman of the board how they evaluate the trustworthiness and credibility of salespeople.

The executives said the most important factor was the salesperson’s ability to marshal resources from within his or her organization. On a scale of 5.0, they scored this trait 4.44.

Other factors also scored high. These included understanding the customer’s business goals and challenges, responsiveness to customer requests, and willingness to be accountable.

Some factors had relatively little impact on whether the salesperson was seen as trustworthy and credible. For example, length of service in the job scored lowest at 2.48.

The executives said they wanted decisiveness and confidence in salespeople. One said he valued a salesperson who “speaks with authority, but without arrogance.” They liked salespeople who listened more than they spoke, while they disliked salespeople who pressured them with hard-sell tactics.

Most of all, they disliked salespeople perceived as timewasters because they offered nothing of value. Lack of focus, poor attention to detail, being a “know it all,” and focus on product rather than customer needs all contribute to this perception, said the execs.

What does all this tell you?

Executives value substantive meetings with salespeople. They don’t like unfocused get togethers that don’t contribute to business goals.

If you want to be trusted, be professional and be prepared.

Source: “Selling to Senior Executives: How Salespeople Establish Trust and Credibility with Senior Executives,” Target Marketing Systems, 1996