This is why salespeople get a bad name. In a recent study it turns out that when you make a superfluous apology (knowing you didn’t cause the problem or it was beyond your control) it has the result of making others trust you.
Here’s where motives come into play. I have a problem if you are apologizing for inconveniences you know you didn’t cause only because you want to get a trust advantage. I know some salespeople do this.
True sales professionals take the long view and don’t manipulate gratuitously. I’m all for using persuasion strategies as part of good communication, but knowingly manipulating others is not good communication.
Here’s what the research found:
An apology for something beyond anyone’s control, such as the weather, has the effect of making others trust the apologizer, says a team led by Alison Wood Brooks of Harvard Business School. For example, when a young man approached strangers in a train station on a rainy day and said, “I’m so sorry about the rain! Can I borrow your phone?” he was successful 47% of the time, compared with just 9% if he simply asked to borrow a phone. Past studies have shown that when culpability for negative situations is ambiguous, people reward those who take blame more than those who express remorse.
Use your knowledge wisely.