Want to Build Trust? Be Reliable!

27th June 2013 | By Frances Pratt


Reliability isn't something that is delivered by chance in your business.  This article looks at how you can understand how people perceive your reliability and what you can do about it.

Last week we look at the Trust Equation and the first element of that Credibility.

Here is the trust equation again.

Trust Equation *  =  Credibility + Reliability + Intimacy

* The Trusted Advisor by David H. Maister, Charles H Green, Robert M. Galford

Understanding reliability is simple. 

Do what you say … and say what you do!

There is extrinsic reliability such as client referrals and testimonials.  These help to show people that what you say you do – you do!  These work most powerfully when your brand promise is clear and the actions that deliver this promise show through in how your clients talk about you.

For each client however, reliability is a slow build over time as they work with you.  Each positive interaction they have with you, the more reliable they will judge you to be.  

Most people get the obvious elements of reliability right such as getting back to people when you say you will and honouring your offers. 

Where people often slip up is the less obvious parts of reliability, the way that people feel or perceive your reliability.  For example, anticipating the client’s needs and routines and uncovering hidden expectations.

Two ways to Uncover Reliability:

The first is to observe and ask your clients for their preferences and deliver based on those. 

Use these questions to discover preferences:

  • Do you prefer being called in the morning or afternoon?
  • Would you prefer I send the proposal before I come and visit you to discuss it?
  • Is there anyone else in the organisation that I should speak with so that I can better understand how to address this problem?


The second is to make sure that you are explicit about setting expectations.  What I mean is, at the end of each meeting or encounter you should list the actions that are required, who is responsible and when they will be done by.  The simple act of setting these expectations means that can meet them. 

If you don’t set a timeframe, then the client will still have an expectation of when you should get back to them …. but because you won’t know what that is, the chances of you missing it and denting their perception of your reliability are much greater.

Sales Tips for Building Reliability:

  1. Be clear about what you intend to do and by when and deliver on these commitments.
  2. Send follow up emails of what you have discussed and the commitments you have made.
  3. Be organised.  Send meeting requests for future meetings, and confirm the day or week before.
  4. Ensure you know the goals of your client.
  5. Ensure your client is clear on your goals.
  6. Look for and respond to the unspoken logical and emotional needs of your client.


In the end it is about pausing and ensuring that you know the expectation that you client has, so that you can manage and meet that.

Like what you've read, and want to know more

Why not have a look at my FREE ebook on the 11 Secrets of Sales Champions ... specifically for people who honestly hate sales! 

Get Social!




Leave a comment...

Would love to hear your thoughts .... go on!