Sales environments can be different to other environments in that there may be little time to establish trust. The five dimension of trust in sales are: customer orientation, selling orientation, expertise, likeability and dependability.

Summary by The World of Work Project

Five Dimensions of Trust in Sales

The concept behind most trust models is that there are specific traits that help increase a person’s trustworthiness. By focusing on these traits and improving them, an individual can become more trustworthy. It’s also possible to build trust with some simple steps.

This specific model focuses on the sales-person’s relationship with the customer, and calls out key dimensions that affect the level of trust that customers report feeling in relation to their sales-people.

A used car = low trust as per the Five Dimensions of Trust in Sales?
One careful owner, low miles… Some sales industries have a worse reputation than others.

The 5 Dimensions

This model calls out five key dimensions that affect trust in a sales environment: customer orientation, selling orientation, expertise, likeability and dependability.

1.Customer Orientation

If the sales-person focuses on the customers perspective and considers the product sale as an opportunity to increase customer satisfaction, then the customer experiences higher levels of trust in the sales-person.

2. Selling Orientation

If the sales-person adopts a short-term, sales focused orientation where they are more concerned about making the sale than helping the customer improve their satisfaction, then customer trust levels are low.

A doctor: Expertise is one of the Five Dimensions of Trust in Sales
We trust experts with important things.

3. Expertise

If the sales-person is able to demonstrate high levels of expertise in relation to the product and answer any questions that a customer may have, then the customer experiences higher trust levels.

4. Likeability

If the sales-person is amicable, friendly and pleasant, perhaps demonstrating high levels of agreeableness, then mutual liking is more probable and customers typically report higher levels of trust in the sales-person.

5. Dependability

If the sales-person is dependable and does what they have said they would do, then customers report experiencing higher levels of trust in the sales-person. This is a factor that becomes more relevant in longer-term relationships.

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Overlap with Other Trust Models

As well as the five dimension of trust in sales, there are several models of trust in existence, most of them basically say the same thing, though perhaps through slightly different language. We’ve considered the models in an overview, but have also included a high level comparison here.

Diagram showing how Five Dimensions of Trust in Sales are similar to other trust models

Learning More

Trust is a hugely important factor that affects our experiences in the world of work. There are several different models that can help us think about trust including the Trust Equation and the ABCDs of Trust. While these models differ, there are lots of similarities between different models of trust.

There are many different ways to get people to buy things though. Nudging is worth a read, as is Cialdini’s work. In addition, work on creating addictive products like the Hook model might be of interest, as well as The Fogg Model.

You might enjoy listening to more about these topics in our podcast on consumer behavior change:

The World of Work Project View

The five dimensions of trust in sales model of trustworthiness is interesting. It’s different than other models that we’ve looked at as it focuses specifically on sales relationships. Despite the specific domain that this model is focusing on, it is broadly the same as other trust models.

Overall we would recommend using and sharing the other trust models ahead of this one in a typical working environment as they are more general in nature and easier to relate to.

We also note that, in our experience, an individual’s purpose and motivation for building trust may affect their success in doing so. Self interest is seldom attractive, and this fact is built into this model.

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This past is based on work by Laurent George and Paulo Guenzi and you can read more in their original article: “Salesperson’s trust in the context of financial services”.

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