How to Build Trust with Buyers & Sellers

Tom Hopkins

By Tom Hopkins

I am often asked how to build trust with buyers and sellers. The extremely simple answer is to tell them what you’re going to do, do it, then tell them what you’ve done. State it. Do it. Prove it. Once you prove you do what you say you will, a foundation of trust is established.

At the beginning of any new client relationship, people are not likely to trust you. Expect that. You may be one of the most trustworthy people on the planet. Your friends, business associates and loved ones may be so trusting of you that they would literally put their lives in your hands, but the new people you are meeting in sales don’t know that.

In many cases, the first time potential clients hear your name is when you, a complete stranger, approach them about something that they perceive you want from them. They don’t perceive a salesperson as someone wanting to give anything, rather to take – their money and their time – things most people hold near and dear. Before you can expect anyone to pay much attention to what you have to offer, you must build their trust in you, your company and sometimes even your industry.

One of the best ways to begin this process is something called an intent statement. This is something I developed with a fellow trainer, Pat Leiby. He and I co-authored, “Sell It Today, Sell It Now—Mastering the Art of the One Call Close.” Pat trained primarily in the timeshare industry, one where most times you only have one shot at building enough trust with a potential client to make a sale. The intent statement is a very powerful, yet simple way to begin a foundation of trust in any field, though.

The intent statement is like an agenda, but a verbal one. It usually begins like this: “The purpose of our time together now is…” or “John and Mary, if you don’t mind, let me explain how this type of presentation usually goes.” It’s where you tell them what you’re going to tell them. In essence, you’re giving your client a road map of what to expect from the next 20, 60 or 90 minutes rather than asking them to let you lead them blindfolded through a maze.

Then, as you do just what you told them you would, they begin to trust you. They’ll trust your word. They may even start to trust the information you are imparting.

To make the intent statement even more powerful, include in it the option for your client to say “no.” This is something they want and maybe have even decided before meeting with you anyway. Saying it aloud to them works wonders at dissolving the mortar that’s holding up the wall of sales resistance common in every selling situation.

In some cases, the option to say “no” will also work to draw their attention closer to what you’re saying. It’s as if you’re taking your service away before they’ve even had the opportunity to learn what it’s all about. This little strategy is effective at both putting people at ease and in building their curiosity to know more.

Here’s an example of an effective intent statement:

Mr. Jones, I appreciate the time we’ll share today. Before we begin discussing your specific situation, let me cover just a couple of points. Our purpose for this meeting is to learn a little bit more about each other in order to determine if we at ABC Real Estate can serve your needs. I’d like to start by acquainting you with our company, its track record and our business philosophy. Then, we’ll review your specific needs so we don’t waste time talking about anything that has no bearing here today. After that, if we both agree it’s appropriate, we’ll review specific options and next steps that you might want to consider.

Now, Mr. Jones, I am a salesperson and it is my job to help people like you choose our services when they’re right for them. However, neither my company nor I believe in using pressure of any kind. My experience has proven that our services aren’t exactly right for everyone. They may or may not be right for you. Only you can make that decision. All I ask is that you keep an open mind and at the end of our meeting tell me honestly if you think our service will meet your needs. That’s fair enough, isn’t it?”

That intent statement takes just about one minute to deliver – with sincerity. Use my words or write your own but add intent statements to the beginning of your listing presentations and meetings with buyers and you’ll soon find the job of reducing sales resistance to be a whole lot easier.

Tom Hopkins is world-renowned as a real estate listing and selling expert. Learn more at