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Relationships are the Gateway to Trust

2 min readMay 20, 2021

It seems like hardly a day goes by without reading some nonsense online about why relationships aren’t important in sales.

Anyone who says relationships are unimportant in selling is wrong.

It seems clear that they don’t understand what a relationship is.

Let’s keep it really simple. A relationship is defined as the way two or more people are connected.

If you’re selling to a buyer, you are connected with them for the purpose of helping them make a purchase decision. Hence, you’re in a relationship.

However, you’re not in a friendship. Having a relationship with a buyer does not automatically mean that it is a friendship. This seems to be the part that is so difficult for some sales commentators to wrap their heads around.

To have a relationship with a buyer does not mean you play golf with them, take them to dinner or remember their birthday. It just means you’re working with them to help them achieve something that is important to them. That’s it.

I’ve had a very successful career in sales. In four decades of successful high level strategic selling, I’ve closed hundreds of millions of dollars in big deals. Eight figure deals. Seven figure deals. I was friendly with my buyer. My buyers were never my friends.

(And, just to address the myth that persists around relationships in sales, during this time I’ve played golf TWICE with buyers. And I’ve gone to dinner with customers fewer than a dozen times.)

However, this all raises an important question that the anti-relaters overlook.

Will buyers buy from you if they don’t trust you? And, if the answer to that is no, then can trust exist in the absence of a relationship?

Let’s run through this.

Most customers won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you. (Anyone disagree with that?)

They won’t develop sufficient confidence in your company or product if they don’t trust you. (I mean you, personally.)

You are connected to your buyers via a series of interactions that you have with them. (You know; that thing we call a sales process.)

Whether you want to or not, if you’re selling to another human, you’re in a relationship with them. (Sorry, skeptics.)

Connecting. Curiosity. Listening. Giving. Value. Empathy. Credibility. Vulnerability. Character. (They’re not only how you sell. They’re how you build trust.)

It’s the perceived quality of those interactions that determines the nature of your relationship with your buyer. (Your buyer’s perception is the only one that counts.)

That relationship dictates whether you earn enough trust with your buyer to win their business. (See how it all comes together?)

In short:
Can you win a deal in the absence of trust? (Possible but improbable.)

Can trust exist in the absence of a relationship? (Possible but equally improbable.)

Are relationships important in sales?

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About the Author

Andy PaulringDNA

Bestselling author of Amp Up your Sales and Zero Time Selling, Andy Paul is #8 on LinkedIn’s list of the Top 50 Global Sales Experts to follow. With more than 170,000 followers, Andy is a highly sought-after speaker and sales sage who interviews the world’s foremost sales minds and extraordinarily interesting people to bring you strategies and insights that you can use to generate epic wins and massive value.