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As I mentioned in last month’s column, restoring our credibility with today’s wary consumers requires building a relationship based on unshakeable trust. Trust has become our most significant form of currency in the new normal of today’s real estate market.

While we strive for perfection in our role as a real estate professional, keep in mind what author and speaker Todd Duncan says: “Trust in its most primitive form is based on authenticity, not flawlessness.” Transparency is the name of the game when it comes to building a successful, long-lasting, trust-based relationship with your clients and prospects.

In my experience, successful salespeople today do a better job of “dating” their prospects before saying “I do” to a sales-based relationship. To create a loyal, lasting relationship, we must take the time to really know our clients, not just know about them. The more you know your prospect—what’s important to them and what they place a value on—the more competent and confident both you and your prospect will be about pursuing a more meaningful relationship.

Just like dating, every new sales relationship will either have an essence match or it won’t. Confidence in the future success of a relationship comes when a shared essence—compatibility, shared realistic goals, expectations, communication, etc.—has been established.

The most important skill in high-trust selling is the ability to pose meaningful questions and be an active listener to those with whom you are considering a business relationship. Active listening helps you understand the prospect’s core values and most pressing needs.

Following are my suggested steps for a “high-trust” interview:

• Begin with a high-impact opening. The first impression is always a lasting impression. And remember…it’s not about you—it’s about them. Rehearse for the opening and make sure your words and questions are carefully thought out. Be sure to demonstrate an appreciation for the prospect’s time and move right into a statement of impact that focuses on the benefits to them. Then quickly transition into interview questions.

• Value discovery questions. The questions you ask should allow you to conduct a high-value need assessment so that you can uncover the prospect’s core values. This helps create interest and begins to create high trust. Remember, people ultimately “buy” based on how they feel.

• Determine needs and expectations. It is then critical to determine needs and expectations regarding how your relationship will proceed. Some of the areas you want to discuss here are: quality; speed; professionalism; knowledge; and accessibility. Discuss these factors up front and then deliver accordingly. Nothing goes further in terms of building trust.

• Discuss the solution. Ultimately, solving the prospect’s need is the end goal for both of you. Let them know the options and alternatives available to them, and back this up with solid information, including graphs, statistics, reports, etc. Without credible, relevant information in your arsenal, it will be impossible to build lasting trust.

The idea here is to make a major “impact.” Let the following be your guide to doing so:

I –Inspirational: Only sell what you are inspired to sell.

M –Motivational: Where the prospect can experience value and gratification.

P – Professional: They deserve the best.

A – Applicable: Make sure it’s worth your time and the prospect’s time to move forward.

C – Considerate: Be willing to listen to what your prospect has to say.

T – Trustworthy: Be sincere and make sure that you and what you sell are above reproach.

George “Gee” Dunsten, president of Gee Dunsten Seminars, Inc., has been a real estate agent and broker/owner for almost 40 years. Dunsten has been a senior instructor with the Council of Residential Specialists for more than 20 years. To reach Gee, please email