The Trust Conundrum
How can you build trust before someone meets you?
This content shared thanks to the American Small Business Institute.
Gary Bernier: Stephen, today you wanted to talk to everybody about trust, right?
Stephen Semple: Yeah. Yeah, trust is an interesting concept. Let me ask you this, Gar, if you’re selling something, is trust important? Is it important that that customer or prospective prospect trust you? Is that an important part of the sale?
Gary Bernier: Yeah. If they don’t trust me, I don’t think they’re buying from me.
Stephen Semple: Yeah, and I think that’s true for many businesses. When I’ve run this in workshops and I’ve asked people, “Is trust important,” virtually every hand in the room goes up and they say, “Oh yeah, yeah. It’s very, very important that somebody trusts me in order to buy from me.” All right, so cool. Right. We all agree on that. Now here’s the next thing. How do we establish trust? What do we do? How do we get trust from somebody? What do we have to do to get them to trust us?
Gary Bernier: Well, I try to get them to like me, get to know me a little bit. I try to give them good customer service.
Stephen Semple: Yeah. So all of these things I like to word it as being, “We want to earn somebody’s trust.” Right? Trust is something that is not freely given. It’s something we have to earn. Typically, the things we do to earn it are like the things you’re listing. “I’m going to give really good customer service. I’m going to be personable with them. I’m going to deliver on my promises. I’m going to say-
Gary Bernier: I’m going to do what I say.
Stephen Semple: I’m going to do what I say. All of those sorts of things. Is there anything else you want to add to that list that I may have missed when it comes to earning the trust of the customer?
Gary Bernier: Oh, “I got Google reviews. I got some testimonials.”
Stephen Semple: “I got Google reviews, testimonials,” all of that stuff. Okay. So here’s the interesting thing. Our belief is we have to earn the customer’s trust for them to buy from us. All right. So doing what I say I’m going to do, does that happen before or after the sale?
Gary Bernier: Is this the conundrum?
Stephen Semple: This is the conundrum. Happen before or after the sale? Happens after the sale. Somebody buys from me. I deliver on my promises. That’s after the sale. Great. Treating them with respect. It’s after they meet you.
Gary Bernier: After they walk through the door.
Stephen Semple: Being personable, typically that’s measured after the sale because everyone’s nice to somebody when they’re a prospect, it’s when you become a customer that you really and truly get to figure out whether or not they’re going to be nice to you. If you think about all of these things if you listed out all the things you do to earn trust-
Gary Bernier: Warranties, guarantees, “I’m going to come back. I’ll make it right.” All the rest of that sort of stuff.
Stephen Semple: All after the sale. So basically what happens is the customer buys from you hoping like hell that they can trust you.
Gary Bernier: A hope strategy?
Stephen Semple: It’s a hope strategy on the customer’s part, which also explains why often the sales cycle is so long, as really what the prospect is trying to do at that point, trying to figure out, “Can I trust this guy?”
Gary Bernier: That’s an interesting way of phrasing that. The prospect, when they first walk in and meet you or come in contact with your organization, they’re trying to figure out-
Stephen Semple: Can they trust you? They’re there. They want to buy from you, but can they trust you? The other thing is you mentioned a couple of other interesting ones such as testimonials and reviews. Now testimonials and reviews, don’t get me wrong they’re important, but they are not actually massive trust-building exercises for a couple of reasons. If somebody is looking at those things, part of what they’re actually telling you is, “I haven’t figured out whether I can trust you yet.” But the other thing is, what I find with most businesses, people will proudly talk about how great their reviews are. “Oh, we’ve got 500, five-star reviews,” and you’ll look at the competition and the competition has got 300 5-star reviews.
Is that going to really move the needle that much? It’s almost become … Look, there was a time when businesses were not active in getting people’s reviews, that reviews made a big difference, because you had 30 5-star reviews and the other guy had one. When that happens, yeah, that’ll move the needle. But today it’s pretty rare to find a situation where there’s a dramatic difference in the reviews enough that it’s really going to push the needle in your business. It’s really almost become one of those, “If you don’t have it, you’re screwed.” It’s kind of a minimum bar thing that’s required now. But coming back to the whole trust issue. So the trust conundrum is this, our client or prospect has got to trust us before they buy from us.
Gary Bernier: How do I make that happen?
Stephen Semple: And most of the trust that we do is after the sale. So how do we make it happen? And also how great would it be? How much better would it be for you, Gar, if somebody came walking through the door already knowing that they trust you, already knowing that they want to buy from you, and really the sales process is about gathering some of the details? How would that feel?
Gary Bernier: Well that would sure shorten the sales cycle I expect.
Stephen Semple: Absolutely. Shorten the sales cycle. Everything becomes easier. Negotiations become less. So now the real question is, “How do we make that happen?” The interesting thing is, marketing can drive that for us. We can do that in marketing. So we step back a little bit and we go, “Who are the people we trust?” Your best friend, do you know everything about them?
Gary Bernier: Well, you’re in that camp and I know an awful lot about you so-
Stephen Semple: And you also know the weaknesses. It’s not just about their strengths. You also know their flaws. So the people we trust, we know the good things about them, and we know the weaknesses about them. All right. Next thing in terms of trust, do we trust people who we have a lot of shared interests with?
Gary Bernier: Absolutely.
Stephen Semple: Right, So if you’re a regular playing squash or you’re a skier, whatnot, you naturally trust those people that you have these shared activities or even shared beliefs with. You trust the people that you have a political affiliation with more. You trust the people who you go to church with. So shared beliefs, shared interests, actually build trust.
Gary Bernier: Interesting.
Stephen Semple: When you like somebody, do you trust them?
Gary Bernier: Typically.
Stephen Semple: Typically, not always, but it certainly leads to it. It’s certainly a step towards trust. What we’re seeing here is, the people we trust, we know. The people we trust, we have shared interests with. The people we trust, we like.
Gary Bernier: And then you said something further in there, you said “shared beliefs”.
Stephen Semple: Yeah. Shared Beliefs. Yeah. So in our marketing then, what if we did this? What if we shared things about ourselves, including our weaknesses, in our marketing? Origin stories, why we do the business we do, why we love the business we love. What if we shared things like that? People will come to trust us because guess what, they’re learning more about us, and not just about … And do you notice? None of this is the features, benefits, products, services. None of this is how great I am. This is about sharing, about the personality of the business, the personality of the people. That builds trust. What if the next thing we did is we actually shared our beliefs? These are the things that we stand for these. These are the things that we stand against. Yes, we’ll alienate some people, but guess what? The others will be bonded to us. They’ll actually trust us.
Gary Bernier: So this is why it’s important to figure out your “we believe” and put them out there?
Stephen Semple: And put them out there. But don’t make them these wishy-washy, airy-fairy, BS crap ones. Make them real. Yes, recognize some people will be a little bit rattled by that and not like it. So be it because others, this is what you’re buying, you’re buying their trust. The last thing is, you know what, run campaigns that just make people like you. Again, talking about your sale doesn’t make people like you. They make you kind of that slimy sales ball, sales guy, right?
Gary Bernier: Yeah. A little bit.
Stephen Semple: A little bit. To make people like you. Have people understand your strengths and your weaknesses. Share your beliefs. All of those things happen when that person comes walking in through the door the first time, emails your business, or picks up the phone call. They’re actually starting from a place of trust, and really what they’re there to figure out is confirm whether what they’ve already decided is true, not whether or not they can trust you. I mean it’ll collapse your sales cycle. It’ll dramatically increase your conversion rate. Everything becomes easier. Make your advertising about those things rather than, “Hey, I got this cool widget on for this price that you can do this or this.” Because frankly, people really don’t care about that.
Gary Bernier: Well, it’s definitely not going to build any.
Stephen Semple: It’s not going to build trust, and guess what? Your competitor down the road has got the same damn thing and may even be selling it cheaper.
Gary Bernier: So you’re saying through marketing, I want to get people to know me, connect with me, bond with me, get to know my belief systems, and the ones that truly connect with me when they need my service, they’ll come walking in trusting me?
Stephen Semple: They’ll come walking in trusting you and will be prepared to pay higher, pay more. The sale will happen. Look, everything becomes easier when that person comes walking through the door trusting you, and I can prove it.
Gary Bernier: How?
Stephen Semple: Prove it this way. When you get a referral from somebody, is that a better lead?
Gary Bernier: Yeah.
Stephen Semple: Why?
Gary Bernier: Well, because the person getting referred trusts the referrer.
Stephen Semple: Right. So if I trust the referrer and the referrer refers me to you, by extension I trust you. That’s why a referral’s better. Referral’s better because the person comes with trust. Imagine all of your leads coming with trust. It’s what marketing can do for you-
Gary Bernier: Wow.
Stephen Semple: …. the right type of marketing can do for you.
Gary Bernier: Well, that’s pretty amazing.
Stephen Semple: The type of marketing we teach here at ASBI.