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Helping people build trust in business, and learning better and easier ways to ‘sell’


Keith Dugdale is passionate about helping people build trust in business, and learning better and easier ways to ‘sell’. Where once you could get away with preparing your sales pitch and doing a hard sell, these days those tactics don’t differentiate you, position your services as a commodity, and make it harder and harder to get in the door. Now you must focus on building trust, and building it quickly.

A successful author, business coach and international speaker on client relationships and building trust in business, for more than 35 years Keith’s career focus has been on building trusted relationships between people in business, primarily in a sales environment.

Alongside international speaking and consultancy engagements, he delivers the ENGAGE sales training program, which he co-developed with David Lambert after observing what the best-of-the-best professional services sellers did and essentially 'decoding' it. The two-day program has now been delivered to more than 10,000 people worldwide, directly resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, and will soon be available online through The Academy of Trust.

Current work

As the Managing Director of the Business of Trust, Keith works with clients all over the world, primarily professional services firms and other B2B organisations, but increasingly finds himself working with more traditional product-based organisations as well, as they strive to become more service-oriented to reduce the danger of commoditisation. Some of his current and past clients include VWR, Deloitte, Aurecon, ARUP, Minter Ellison, PwC, AECOM, Calibre Consulting, Allens, and Adidas.

By focusing on trust and not selling he helps individuals and organisations understand how to:
- Raise the profitability of their work. Partly by focusing on having the relationship with the economic buyer, and partly through removing proposal processes out of the sales cycle as much as possible.
- Shorten the sales cycle by getting to the stage very quickly where clients want to buy a service because they want to work with the provider.
- The confidence of people to have broad and deep conversations, build relationships and ultimately win work.

Keith is also a certified trainer of Think on Your Feet, and a member of the Sales Masterminds Australasia group.

Previous experience

Work: After 25-years with PwC in Europe, Asia and Australia, he learned to ‘decode’ what it is that the best-of-the-best sellers, rainmakers and relationship builders do, and co-created his Smarter Selling methods with David Lambert to teach others these exact techniques.

Author: He is the co-author of the best-selling ‘Smarter Selling: How to grow sales by building trusted relationships’, now in its second edition published by Financial Times Prentice Hall, which has been translated into 5 languages including Chinese and Russian.

Talking Points

Building the trusted organisation

Most modern organisations have been designed and structured for the knowledge economy, where what they market and sell is their credibility, where people buy from them because they can trust their technical knowledge and expertise. This in turn led to organisations structuring their recruitment, rewards, technology, support systems and strategy to feed this knowledge based enterprise. However, many organisations now realise that trust is much broader and deeper than technical knowledge and expertise, and as a result are having to re-design their organisation to drive an approach where everything they do means the market will trust them. In this presentation, Keith looks at what organisations have done to re-design who they are - to build trust not only with their clients, but internally within the organisation as well.

What do customers/clients really value?

The question of what customers/clients really value has vexed many a consultant or salesperson. And yet increasingly they are being told that to win work they need to ‘build trust’ and ‘add value’ - so just what does this mean? In this presentation, Keith will explain how roles and environments significantly impact what people value, and will introduce a way of identifying what an individual buyer potentially values, and how this information can be used to build a trusted client relationship, and ultimately win work.

How to build trusted client relationships quickly

In these days of rapid fire decisions, short attention spans, and the need for ‘quick wins’, it is often said that there is little point in building a relationship as it takes too long. In this presentation, Keith explains how you can build trust quickly, in only one meeting, from a standing start. He will also look at the four different types of business relationships, the upsides and risks of each one, and how to develop the type of relationship that your client will value and will be most valuable to you.

How to get meetings with busy decision makers

Getting in front of busy key decision makers is a challenge that almost all consultants and salespeople face. Faced with significant competition for the decision makers time, and often feeling a lack of confidence in why decision makers might want to meet with them, many consultants adopt ineffective approaches in their attempt to get in the door. In this presentation, Keith will explain what decision makers value and how you can construct invitations that will cut through the noise and make them enthusiastic about meeting you - no matter what your role or position title is.

Moving beyond price or How to leverage relationship selling in a procurement-driven world

‘All my clients care about is price’ is a statement that is increasingly expressed across the business world, particularly with the seemingly growing role of procurement and pricing functions, and particularly within Government organisations. While it is true that price is a critical factor in the decision-making process, there are ways to help clients and prospects see beyond the price and focus on value. In this presentation, Keith will look at how you can position your firm, and get your sellers to position themselves, to more easily win profitable work based on value, not price. You will discover how to:
1. Make sure you are dealing with the person at the client end who is not as focussed on price.
2. Understand the type of relationships your firm needs to build which negate a focus on price.
3. Identify the value that prospective clients are looking for.
4. Get a meeting with the right person about the right subject (no capability statements required).

Developing a client-centric sales culture

Telecom sales, legal advice, sportswear, or engineering services. It doesn’t matter what you are seeling, every industry is now rethinking the way it approaches the market. Increased competition, globalisation and new technologies mean the sales culture of the past will be irrelevant in the future. In this presentation, Keith will explain what a cross-section of industries are doing to change their sales cultures, and what aspects of the business they are having to adapt to ensure the change is effective and sustainable.

Pitching to win

Your bid or proposal document has been submitted, and now your client has asked for your team to come in for a pitch presentation. What do you do? Most organisations still prepare traditional pitches which have a strong presentation and ‘show and tell’ focus, rather than focusing on what’s most important - building rapport with the people in the room. In this presentation, Keith will look at why the traditional pitch no longer works, and introduce an alternate, interactive method of presenting and pitching that will help you to connect with prospective clients and immediately differentiate yourself from your competition.
“Keith Dugdale was a keynote presenter at the 2016 APSMA conference in Sydney and he was amazing. Keith’s energy and passion for the topic resonated with everyone in the room. He managed to hold the attention of a group of 200+ people for 90 minutes and that’s no easy task. Feedback from our attendees showed that Keith’s content was right on the mark and they were particularly impressed with how he translated concepts and themes into workable strategies for the everyday. It’s fair to say that everyone walked out of that session with something that they could put to work immediately, but also just as importantly the motivation to go back and inspire their teams.” APSMA Conference 2017, BBS Communications Group

“Keith was recently utilised at an offsite day where a large part of the day was to present/speak to approximately 60 mid/senior management level people across a professional services firm. Not having had any prior interaction with anyone in the organisation and trying to immediately gain rapport and engagement across a large and broad group was not an easy task. What came across though was a myriad of real experience with multiple clients in multiple industries, real examples of ways to address real life problems which are changing in the working environment and notably, the sales process and cycle. Keith was up tempo, challenging and, most importantly, suggested real solutions that had merit. It is very easy for people to either hide at these events or pay it lip service. Clearly, however, the interaction and engagement of the group from the very start indicated that what he said resonated. Clearly he has a wealth of experience, however what was most notable was his ability to pick the salient points and draw things back to very basic starting points rather than labour in confusion. From our perspective this wasn’t an academic exercise but a practical one to gain insights as to what other organisations are doing right and wrong in adapting their processes to offer most chance of success. Keith did that in droves. The value add was in offering solutions.”

Robert Walters

“I attended two sessions that Keith spoke at as part of the 2016 APSMA conference. Both sessions Keith led had high levels of interaction which is unusual at these events. I think people felt he really understood the industry and had a good number of case studies to demonstrate what had worked/what had not worked. I could see lots of heads nodding while he was speaking! I felt it was very obvious he had a strong understanding regarding the challenges of working in professional services firms. He spoke of the challenges that may arise when working in BDM with lawyers/accountants/engineers and this resonated strongly. He gave good explanations of why (for example) lawyers approached certain situations the way they did (not good at asking questions, used to knowing all the answers) and why it made sense that certain meetings didn't have good success rates (lawyers talking to CEOs about their niche specialty area and not the broader business goals). The examples he gave were helpful and, again, I think people could relate. He said a lot of what "we wish we could say" but find difficult in our roles for a variety of reasons.”

Hall & Wilcox

“I met Keith Dugdale at the APSMA (Asia-Pacific Professional Services Marketing Association) Conference in October 2016 where he spoke about Beyond Procurement and Price. During the session, the audience was highly receptive to the concepts Keith presented. He provided practical tips around engaging with clients in a valuable way, including how to access and communicate with decision makers. Myself and everyone at my table found value from the session. Personally, I found his practical and matter-of-fact approach refreshing and logical. The tips he presented were directly relevant to my role as the Marketing & Business Development Manager of a mid-tier law firm, and the practical tools he demonstrated could be rolled out immediately. I would have no hesitation in recommending Keith as a presenter.”

Mullins Lawyers

“Keith was the keynote speaker at our 2017 global leadership conference in Berlin. He spoke to nearly 140 of our leaders on the topic of smarter selling and changing your sales culture.’ The feedback we had from the group in attendance was excellent, with comments that Keith is a very credible expert in what to consider when developing a new sales culture, that he is a great motivator, and that he showed new perspectives and triggered a new way of thinking and acting. Keith truly demonstrates what smarter selling should look like - and does so by sharing a broad range of excellent insights and tangible examples.”

VWR International Management (Europe)
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