When sellers attempt to use “relationship” as a ploy to sell they encourage distrust. Maybe you’re using LinkedIn or email messages. Trouble is, everyone knows you’re pretending. 

“Until you’ve known people over time, through good times and bad, you’re not in a relationship with anyone, especially when you’re trying to be nice so you can meet your own agenda,” says communication expert Sharon Drew Morgen. 

She says a relationship will not facilitate a sale. Because buyers cannot buy unless they have managed their internal change management journey. They must first assemble all people need to be involved in decision-making… to hear their concerns. 

“Buyers can’t buy until they’re ready, willing, and able to bring something new into their status quo regardless of how ‘nice’ you are,” says Ms. Morgen who explains buyers won’t start trusting you if it risks disrupting whatever IS working.

There are no shortcuts

“Want a shortcut to LinkedIn relationship building and making sales?  Build trust with your prospects with these templates and 5 easy tips.”

Or social selling’s mandate: “Don’t sell.  Instead, share content that builds trust.”

“These 5 templates to build trust will drive all the appointments and sales you need!" (no work involved)

Chances are, you’re seeing these promises of grandeur, easy money and quick results circulating lately.  Many email marketers are making promises like these. All you have to do is “build trust” with your audience, and the sales will start pouring in.

But can you use a series of trust building emails to earn loyalty? Really? Can you hack trust---fast-track it?

The trusted advisor sales model

So what exactly is a “trusted advisor?” Answer: A consultative seller. In fact, it’s not a new concept. 

Sales trainer, Anthony Iannarino says, “The idea of being a trusted advisor isn’t something separate from being a sales person; it is a set of behaviors and attributes that great salespeople possess.”

In other words, being a trusted advisor means you have the ability to diagnose your client’s business problems and challenges. 

“And then to make the right recommendations to improve their situation,” says Innarino. 

Maybe you tried it for a while--LinkedIn relationship building by sending out messages, all of which were designed to earn trust by educating leads list once a week or so... hoping for website visits or responses.  But after some time, you quit. Because all you got was crickets.  

Even worse, during your “building trust” campaign, you completely stopped your traditional prospecting outreach campaign... in an effort to build a deeper relationship with prospects.

But in the end you were left with nothing.  Sound familiar? You’re not alone.

The promise of fast money without any sales and a rush to earn trust and credibility (and attempt to learn how to build relationships on LinkedIn) is sabotaging your ability to get conversations started.  There’s a better goal to set, and there’s still an easy process you can take to reach it.

Why building trust isn't working

"How can I create trust in my email?"  Or “What’s the best way to build relationships with customers on LinkedIn?” Odds are you cannot. While it sounds reasonable you cannot hack trust. I’ll explain.

Let’s say you meet me at a conference. You spend a full day with me. Will you trust me enough at the end of the day… enough to make a critical decision/investment based on my advice? Of course not. It would take more time for you.

How can you establish credibility when prospecting with LinkedIn or with trust building emails? Also the wrong goal. 

Trust and credibility are built over time---not established in messages, nor by sharing content.  

We cannot create trust and credibility.  It must be given to us---based on our actions. True. But ultimately based on our how customers reward us for the sum of all actions we take.


Establishing trust by sharing content is not realistic.  Despite 'experts' saying otherwise. Trust as a goal for a prospecting or marketing campaign is not realistic. It’s the wrong metric.

Try this to start the process

Building trust is a process. Here’s an unconventional (but effective) way to start. 

Rather than proving yourself worthy of a prospect’s time (and money), instead provoke curiosity in the potential buyer. Earn the conversation… the opportunity to begin earning trust. 

Then you have a chance to build a trusted relationship.  


"Dennis, noticing you're not investing in _______ (observed lead gen tactic). ABC Corp is. (your competitor) I have an idea to share.  But first, what would cause you to consider exploring the tactic?" 

Notice: This doesn't establish trust. But it does prove the seller conducted research on Dennis's status quo situation AND understands who he competes with. 

Note how this example also doesn't ask for a meeting---instead, asks Dennis if he is open to changing his status quo situation based on the competitive situation (which Dennis may not have realized prior to the message arriving). 

Avoid persuasion and asking for meetings

Prospecting by not asking for meetings? Yes. Today’s most successful sellers are using an unorthodox but effective tactic to begin the trust-building process. 

Many of our members stopped asking for meetings and started getting more of them.

"We're getting big meetings every week and my pipeline is stacked for the next two quarters.  We're having good success by being different. We're intriguing them to learn more and getting them to ask us for more information without any aggressive tactics," says Jeremy.

What's making the difference? Lack of persuasion. Lack of looking needy. This helps your message stand out and fosters a neutral environment. Customers are more open to listening… and developing curiosity about your message  

“Not asking for the meeting initially is getting us more opportunities,” says Jeremy Hall of SADA Systems.

"I'm seeing more response from prospects when not asking for meetings in the first touch email,” says Mike Shine, formerly of BA Insight.  

“Sometimes I'm getting more information back ... about where the buyer is in the consideration process ... than I would in a meeting.  Even when the reply shows latent need for our solution it helps me prioritize the follow-up."

"Since avoiding asking for meetings the change in my response rate is 60-70% better,” says Netta Doron of Doron Online PR.  “I'm generating more meetings by not asking for them in the initial email. This sparks curiosity in my prospects.”

It sounds counter-intuitive---not asking for meetings, even though that’s what you want, right?  Well, yes and no. A meeting would be great, but a sale is the end-goal.  

BUT you cannot hack your way to the ultimate goal. You cannot set a meeting, build trust, establish credibility and make a sale---without first provoking a response, which starts a conversation.  That’s it.

3 easy steps to start the journey

Listen...the last thing I want to do is sound like those people promising you easy results for barely any work. That’s not what this is. You will have to make changes and make some effort.  But the effort won’t be hard.

Once you perfect it you won’t want to prospect any other way.

1. Stop asking for meetings.

I know, I know.  We talked about this only a few paragraphs above, but it’s really important that we talk about it more because it really does sound counter-intuitive!  Even with lines like, “Worst case scenario--you’ll get a free lunch!” they see through it. Plus, you sound desperate. That’s a turn-off.

"Customers fear being 'sold'—they suspect sellers have only their own interests at heart," says trust expert and author, Charles H. Green.

When you ask for a meeting in your cold outreach email you’re shutting readers down.  They don’t want to waste time sitting down with the many people emailing them unless they suspect you’re different.

You have to provoke them to want to talk to you. Because of their curiosity they will be less worried about wasting time on a pointless call with a sales rep. Once they suspect you may you understand their specific challenge, did your research, and aren’t begging for their business, THEY’LL be begging YOU for a meeting. And more inclined to trust you.

It’s not a fantasy---it’s simply you using the right strategy.

2. Get rid of the self-talk.

You might think messages are providing value, telling the prospect how you can help them, informing them… but chances are they’re demonstrating self-interest.  It’s not your fault. You’ve probably been taught to tell people all about what you do, who you are, and what your company is all about. But guess what! This isn’t the best way.

"Is this a built-in conflict? Or can sellers serve buyers’ interests and their own as well?" asks Mr. Green.

A step toward the solution (trust) is this: Removing selfish bias from messages. Neutralizing them. Hyper-focusing on the problem you solve and removing the "I's" and "my's" and "ours" and "we's."

3. Take risks.

Are you taking enough risks when starting conversations?  

"Risk-taking naturally increases intimacy... which increases trust,” says Mr. Green. Then, once a conversation is established, “more trust ultimately leads to less risk." 

Consider how what Mr. Green says could strengthen your ability to initiate conversations. We often take risks when "standing out." 

When you’re willing to admit that you don’t have all the answers, you make yourself vulnerable.  

Vulnerability often fosters an environment to build trust. Yes, just by being honest.  This is part of the reason why it’s so important to avoid looking needy. When you’re begging, you’re turning prospects off. 

You’re helping them them feel an urge to not trust you.

Take these steps to heart. Trust cannot be hacked. But you can create an environment for customers to invite you on a journey... a pathway to earning their trust over time.

Need help getting started? Let’s chat in comments below. 

Brittany Ferrara gives our customers and internal team everything needed to stay focused, on-task, effective and ultimately successful. She gives us an organizational, marketing & customer support edge. Brittany brings seven years of customer service, administrative assisting and marketing experience to us. She is a successful entrepreneur, having operated her own successful venture, Pro-Assist, LLC for five years before joining our team.

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  • This is really helpful. When you’re starting in a new industry and you don’t have the expertise yet, how can you earn trust?

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