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The Coaching Effect Blog

    Coaching Conversations: Creating Trust Relationships

    by Sarah Wirth / August 22, 2014

    Editor's Note: This post has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on October 19, 2020. Photo by Hattie Kingsley Photography.

    A couple weeks ago, I discussed the importance of not only coaching your team members' skills, but also coaching their mental performance. To keep your team performing at their peak level, you have to ensure they are always mentally engaged with their work. To that end, I introduced three key coaching principles that you can use to help improve your sales reps’ performance mentality:

    • Creating relationships of trust with those you are coaching
    • Asking powerful questions to drive effective learning
    • Be consistent and reliable 

    In today’s blog, we are going to further explore the first coaching principle of creating relationships of trust. According to data from EcSell Institute’s survey, there is a strong relationship between team member sales performance and team members that report their manager cares about them as a person, not just a sales producer. 

    This data indicates that a personal relationship with their manager is important to top-performing team members.  So in order to coach your team effectively, you must first connect with them as an individual. For some managers and with some team members, this relationship will come naturally.  But other relationships can be more difficult to form.  So how do you create relationships of trust with all the team members you lead?

    Step 1: Create a Relationship of Trust

    The first step is to simply spend time with them. If you need to connect with a team member, the easiest way is to schedule a ride-along with them. Ride-alongs are always a great coaching opportunity, but they also present a great opportunity for relationship building. When you are with them on the road, make sure to ask questions about them as a person and pay attention to the subjects they talk about the most.  If possible, try to find an area of common interest, as this help connections form more naturally.

    Step 2: Ask Questions and Be Open

    The next step in creating a trust relationship is to be open about yourself.  Many leaders hesitate to share information about themselves on a personal level, believing perhaps it’s inappropriate to do so.  But if you want to create a genuine, trusting relationship with someone, you have to be wiling to share too.  Make sure you ask lots of questions to get to know the people you are leading, but also make sure that you talk about yourself openly when they ask you questions.

    50 Relationship Building Questions

    Step 3: Be Consistent and Reliable

    The third key aspect of building trusting relationships is to be reliable.  Many people think of being honest and keep confidences when they think of creating trust. These are important concepts, but it’s just as important to be consistent and reliable.  When you follow through on your commitments and do what you say you will do, people are more likely to trust what you say. So show up to meetings you say will attend, respond to people’s requests in the timeframe to which you agreed, and generally follow through on your commitments.  This will help your team members know they can count on you.

    The above ideas are not the only ways to create trusting relationships, but they are three key ways to build a genuine connection with your team members.  And if you want to be a coach that helps them perform at a higher level, you must have a relationship of trust as your foundation.  Take these steps with your reps and see how the level of trust increases with those you are leading.


    Tags: Coaching Sales People

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    Sarah Wirth

    Sarah Wirth

    Sarah Wirth is the president of Ecsell Institute and has over 20 years of experience in employee assessment, leadership development, sales executive coaching, and customer service. She has presented to executives from across the globe with organizations such as Mercedes Benz, Estee Lauder, Ritz Carlton, Cheesecake Factory and many more.