Trust in Professional Selling

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The Role of Trust in Professional Selling and its Marketing Related Outcomes. Richard Eberle, Ian McGurran, Miranda Schoenfish
This study examines the role trust plays in professional selling. The results show that building a trust based relationship with consumers can help create long lasting, mutually beneficial arrangements. Along with that, companies understand the importance of trust and educated their employees on how to build that rapport. Introduction

Trust is a primary sociological function that has distinct cognitive, emotional and behavioral dimensions which merge to create a congruent social experience (Lewis, 1985). It is commonly defined as "one's expectations, assumptions, or beliefs about the likelihood that another's future actions will be beneficial, favorable, or at least not detrimental to one's interests" (Robinson 1996, p.576). These expectations, assumptions and beliefs shape how the consumer views a salesperson. Customers may come into a meeting with assumptions or stereotypes because they do not know the person they are negotiating with. “In the change from a face-to-face society to one of widespread anonymity in a demographically large and structurally complicated system, a person often interacts with others who are not known well or even at all” (Lewis 1985, p. 973). However, consumers do not hesitate to buy from people who are unknown. This is due to the reliance on system trust that depicts contemporary, complex civilizations. That trust is especially important when salespeople are corresponding with potential consumers because a long lasting relationship based on trust could create value for both the customer and the seller. Trust is a meaningful part of the relationship because it causes the buyer to have risked something on the salesperson’s claims or promises (Swan & Nolan, 1985). Trust is not the only significant aspect in the customer-salesperson relationship, but it assists in establishing the capability of a salesperson to influence a potential customer (Peterson 1978, pp. 142-144). The purposes of this paper are: (1) to conceptualize how trust is formed in professional selling situations; (2) to evaluate the role trust plays in professional selling outcomes; and (3) briefly review how companies are integrating the concept of trust through sales training programs. Trust Formation in a Professional Selling Relationship

Building trust as a professional seller is an important part in the modern work environment. Trust is important between a salesperson and a buyer because it aids in effective buying decisions. A salesperson demonstrating characteristics of trustworthiness is normally required before trust is truly gained, by the buyer (Hardin, 1996). As well as the sellers credibility, which can be seen as a sum of the trustworthy characteristics a profession seller portrays (Baer, 1990). The more trust and credibility a salesperson portrays in their sales dialogues and interactions the easier it is for the seller to create a strong customer relationship where both sides of the party benefit equally. The trust that is created in a sales setting, not only benefits the buyer in reducing risk, but helps the salesperson to adhere to their own ethical behaviors(Good and Schwepker, 2012). As selling has evolved, the importance of retaining a strong customer base has outgrown traditional sales techniques, where the process was aimed at closing the sale (Good and Schwepker, 2012). When it comes to the point of the sale, trust in a seller provides a base for buyers to ensure that they are making the best decision for their firm’s needs. Trust between professional salespeople and they buyers they work with builds during each selling interaction and can reach beyond that. From the viewpoint of the buyer, a salesperson could be driven in one of two ways: the first, being that the salesperson is driven by the appreciation for the products and product lines that they are presenting a...
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