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5 Steps for Building Trust

We’re in an amazing time right now. As tough as things are, there is still so much opportunity. A professional salesperson can provide a solution for where people are right now, but if you can’t build trust, you won’t succeed. 

Most people right now are operating from what we call their “reptilian brain.” They aren’t thinking about the future, which makes it more difficult to build trust. So, how do we build trust with people we don’t know?

There are five steps for building trust that may seem intuitive and obvious. But remember, these are steps, not jumps. One comes after the other. Open your mind, listen with empathy and without judgement, and follow these five steps to build trust with people both professionally and personally.

  • Alignment
  • Logic
  • Leverage
  • Solution
  • Commitment


Look to align yourself with where people are right now. We call this “strategic empathy.” You want people to say, “Me too,” rather than, “So what?”

How do you align with people? First, you can’t skip this step. Many salespeople go straight to Leverage or Solution, which can emotionally separate you from people. You must align with how people feel, by approaching them from an equal posture rather than a superior one. They will believe you want to listen to them because you understand where they’re coming from. They will think, “This person understands me and what matters to me.”

To do this, you must have an intention to be empathetic; you want to share in their emotional experience. You show that you care enough about a stranger that you want to go through what they’re going through. Now you share an equal posture with them.

These are some additional points for Alignment:

  1. Say, “I understand…” and “I appreciate…” Don’t use “but” because that breaks the alignment. Start with intention. “I know this is what you’re feeling.”
  2. Take the time to research your audience and what their needs and feelings may be.
  3. Remember to listen with the intent to share empathy.


If the five steps of building trust require 100% of your effort, Alignment is 30%. It’s vital that you establish an empathetic, equal position to the people you’re engaging. 


Now that you are aligned with your audience, it’s important to support what you’re talking about with data, research, and proof. You gain stability by approaching your position from a logical perspective. People don’t need much.

Once you’ve established your proposition from a vantage point of logic, it’s time to move on. Remember it can get boring to try and sell psychological concepts like conditioning, behavioral consistency, self-efficacy, goal setting, etc. Hit a couple of key points supported by the logic of irrefutable data. 

Logic accounts for 10% of building trust.


Leverage is the emotional element of building trust. People make purchase decisions based on emotions that are justified by Logic and Alignment. They justify “emotional reasons to buy now” (ERBN). This is the point where we move from pain to pleasure. Pain has been utilized in your empathetic journey with a client through Alignment and Logic. You have laid the foundation for trust. Now, you can leverage a shift from what has been painful to your client to a pleasurable outcome with your solution.

Here’s an example: Let’s say a school system is trying to re-open. You don’t want to go in with your proposition and say how great it’s going to be. It’s unrealistic. You will have no alignment with your audience, and any logic you present will not resonate honesty and truthfully.

You can better leverage their emotions by starting from an aspect of pain. In this example, you talk about what might be painful in reopening – sick kids and sick parents. Start by hitting points where it may hurt and you know you can all agree on (now that you’re aligned, right?). Now, move the proposition to something positive and pleasurable – to being a school system that gets kids back in school safely and successfully. You’ve now leveraged them away from pain toward pleasure.

Leverage accounts for 30% of building trust.


This is where most salespeople start and why most salespeople fail. If you’ve followed all of these five steps, the solution will be a no-brainer. You’ve aligned with how they’re feeling from an intention of true empathy and sharing an equal posture. You’ve provided researched, valid data to support your position from a perspective of logic. You’ve gained emotional congruity by leveraging their emotions from a position of pain to pleasure.

You now present a successful solution aligned with your clients from a position of trust. This is 20% of building trust, but you’re not done yet!


If you’ve been doing the math, you know the five steps to building trust is 90% complete. Commitment is only 10% of building trust, because the hard work is already done. Assume you’ve already made the sale. Ask if there are any questions and go back to an element you may have missed. You can now focus on the outcome on which you and your client are already aligned.

If you follow these five steps in order, you will build trust with people. You will never have to use a “hard sell”. Why? Because you already sold it. 

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