Trust is the foundation of any business relationship. According to Stephen M.R. Covey’s book, Business at the Speed of Trust, when you have trust, things go much faster. When you don’t have trust, they go slow and often stall out.

A huge component of trust is integrity. Schultz and Doerr give a formula for integrity in Insight Selling:

Strong Moral Principles + Honoring Commitments Consistently = Integrity

As a sales professional you must have integrity. However, having integrity is not enough. You need to establish integrity in each new relationship.

Earlier this week, I talked about how critical it is for sales reps to not only BE trustworthy but to also LOOK trustworthy. Today, I want to tackle the question, “How do you establish integrity with a prospect you’ve just met?”

Ways To Establish Integrity

  1. Find Commonality: Check out your LinkedIn network. Who are your common connections? Is there someone that might be able to give you a proactive referral before your first-in meeting? As you begin your first-in meeting you can bring some of your common connections into the conversation: “As I was preparing for our conversation, I noticed that we’re both connected to Mary Smith on LinkedIn. How do you know Mary?” Simply asking this question shows that you have done your homework and that you have some common friends. This question might also open up the opportunity to talk about how you helped Mary achieve her goals.
  2. Get References: You check out reviews before you go to a restaurant or a hotel. What makes you think buyers aren’t doing the same with you? Make sure you have plenty of reviews from clients, colleagues, and vendor partners on your LinkedIn profile. How do you get reviews? Simple. Make a goal to give out one review a day for the next 90 days. I guarantee a large percentage of these people will reciprocate.
  3. Get Involved In Your Community: Volunteering in nonprofit organizations brings tremendous benefits to any sales professional. (For more on this read Larry Levine’s article, How Community Service Can Enhance Your Sales.) One of the side benefits of being involved in a nonprofit is that it implies that you are a decent human being. It’s a great signal to a prospect that you might have integrity.
  4. Honor Commitments: While you don’t have a lot of big commitments to follow through on for a prospect, they are watching how you follow through on the small ones to get a sense of your integrity. Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it. For example, if you tell someone you’ll send them some preliminary numbers by tomorrow evening, move heaven and earth to make that happen. The way you honor micro-commitments during the initial stages of the buying process signals your intention to honor the bigger commitments after the sale.
  5. Share Your Personal Values: During the Value Alignment Workshop sales reps are challenged to identify their personal values and write a vision statement. Every good company has values and a vision that clearly communicate the ideals to which the organization aspires. Every great sales professional should also have a list of values and a vision. Once you clarify these, include them in your LinkedIn summary, write about them, talk about them, and even include them in your proposals. (For more ideas on this, check out our my recent blog article:  The Value of Knowing Your Core Values as a Sales Professional)

What else can you do to establish integrity? I’m sure there are more things. If you think of something I haven’t included on this list, add it to the comments below.

I hope you aspire to be a person of integrity. If you do, then make sure to professionally and proactively establish integrity as you open new business relationships.

Larry Levine

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