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Navigating the Crisis of Trust in Sales: 3 Strategies for Salespeople

Artificial intelligence (AI) has blurred the lines of human communication so profoundly that it is no longer always clear if the emails in your inbox are authentically human or merely appear authentically human.

Nowhere is this struggle more palpable for salespeople than in the prospecting phase. The enormous amount of digital content that bombards us has made establishing credibility and trustworthiness an uphill battle.

A truly pressing question has emerged from these new circumstances: How do salespeople build trust—the linchpin that propels business relationships forward—in this age of AI and automated marketing?

The Trust Imperative in Sales

Building trust is a dynamic interplay (not a one-way street), requiring both parties to be trustworthy and willing to trust. This dual commitment forms the bedrock of successful interactions, yet our current landscape makes this nearly impossible.

The Escalating Trust Crisis

What, exactly, is happening in the current sales environment? And how does it get in the way of customers and salespeople building trust?

1. Rising Noise Levels

Marketing automation has inundated the market with digital noise. Emails flood inboxes, SMS texts fill our phone’s notifications, and almost all transactional sales have migrated entirely online. Additionally, many offerings in the learning and development space have been turned into package deals and license subscriptions. These situations have transformed the role of many sales professionals from conversationalists and relationship-builders to order-takers, eliminating the chance of many salespeople ever making genuine human connections with potential customers.

2. Changing Sales Dynamics

The traditional one-size-fits-all methodologies of yesteryear are being overhauled. The need for individualized approaches in sales has never been more critical as generic strategies have begun to fall short of helping salespeople build the trust required to make meaningful connections in our current climate. Our challenge now lies in determining how to make each sales experience a personalized experience every single time.

3. The Continued Impact of AI

The continued maturation of AI content will also keep intensifying the ongoing trust crisis in sales. What impact does wondering if an actual human wrote an email have on a prospect’s willingness to interact with you and maybe even become a customer? At this point, AI-generated sales and marketing content can seem so human that unless something about the content is dramatically different than others like it, people likely won’t engage at all.  

Existing sales methodologies, many of which are rooted in a one-size-fits-all approach, are inadequate to address the nuanced demands of the modern sales environment. While offering efficiency and innovation, AI accentuates the need for more tailored, individualized strategies to foster trust and authenticity in every interaction. As we navigate the impact of AI on the trust dynamic, the imperative for adaptive and personalized approaches becomes more apparent than ever.

3 Strategies for Sales Professionals to Bridge the Trust Gap

Building trust in the current sales environment will require a lot of effort—not just from salespeople but enterprise-wide. We have to find ways to stand out and break through the noise. Here are three ways you can start to do just that.

1. Conduct an Internal Assessment

Does your organization deserve the trust you seek? This question can be very difficult to answer, and many organizations will have a knee-jerk response, “Of course!” But going on this introspective journey is critical if you want to stand apart. Ask the hard questions and conduct an internal assessment to identify and address any obstacles hindering trust-building within your team or processes.

2. Understand the Elements of Your Brand

Understanding your brand’s characteristics and being consistent enterprise-wide in how they are represented provides consistent messaging that builds trust with potential clients, allows prospects to determine if your brand is aligned with their values, and generally cultivates a sense of authenticity and transparency. Be familiar with your brand’s values and preferred tone and style so you can consistently pull that into client interactions.

3. Consistently Give More Than You Get

You must be a reliable voice that your prospects are willing to turn to for questions, especially during disruption. When prospects do look to you, be prepared—as often as possible—with valuable insights, pieces of intelligence, and by lending a listening ear. By offering more than you seek, you establish a foundation of genuine interest, which can foster organic trust over time.

Building Trust in Sales Takes Time

In a world where technology is both a boon and a challenge, navigating the crisis of trust in sales and creating meaningful relationships with clients is increasingly complex. Just remember that building trust is a journey, not a destination. A commitment to authenticity, consistency, and innovation will set you apart and help you build trust over time.

About the Authors

Ann Roesener
Ann is a Growth Executive at GP Strategies. She was at GP previously working in the Leadership Practice and managing one of the top ten accounts. In her current role, she works closely with clients to determine how to impact their business and performance through training and human performance solutions. While away from GP, Ann worked as a Go-to-Market Enablement Sr. Manager tending after a team that worked with Customer Success Managers, Account Executives, and the APJ region. In addition, she worked with training partners while selling a learning solution SaaS platform. Ann has expertise in leadership, management, sales, partner sales, enablement, coaching, and career development. These were honed by working with MBA programs and establishing new programs and solutions to help MBA students find jobs. When not working, she’s spending time in Seattle with her dog Charles Barkley and going to hear live music.

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