Trust is a super sensitive topic in our world today. As soon as you step out of your door, you enter a commercial jungle. People use lies to sell. Companies do not care what they have to do or say as long as they sell to you. Other people believing those commercial lies get duped and deeply scarred in showing trust. It becomes a rare achievement – to establish trust – as we see more and more situations in life that force us to hesitate to trust someone.
When you enter the shoes of a salesperson, or even if you are pitching or selling your product to investors or customers, you face the lowest level of trust. People question your expertise, your product or service, and your communication. Why? Because they have witnessed dishonest practices too many times already and you may be lying to get their money. Therefore, it becomes essential to do two things: (1) to comprehend the true value your product or service provides so you can feel comfortable promoting trust, and (2) to learn how to break all barriers to achieving trust. Here are my top picks on how to build customer trust from experience.
1. Stay transparent and real
Fake is easy to read. Fake is in your eyes, body language, and voice tone. One does not have to be educated on how to pick up ‘fake.’ You feel it in your intuition. And to be a good liar is exceptionally difficult. Your customer will usually feel whether you have a hidden agenda from the way you behave. So why learn how to be a good liar when it is simpler to stay real and just improve your sales skills?
Nothing gives out your non-authenticity like pushiness. I am a little surprised that pushiness in sales is still a thing today, but it sprouts from human nature so that explains it. Individually, we believe we need to put in the effort to make a sale, and effort equals talking. Salespeople still think they should do more of the talking rather than the customer. That is wrong. You may be pouring all the information you are giving out about your product or service into uninterested ears. It is a waste. Would you trust someone who blabs on and on or someone who tries to understand your personal pains and problems by showing interest in them?
Then there are those salespeople who lose trust through unnecessary guarantees. “We guarantee that this will improve your business” or “I can guarantee that your life will improve using this product.” No, that is bullshit. In no circumstances can you or anyone else know the future. And guaranteeing results is predicting the future. Stay realistic. You can teach the customer how your product or service can be used to achieve their goals and give case studies of success from your former clients, for example.
Lastly, do not try to be perfect. It will make you seem unrealistic. In fact, it is better to admit to your mistakes or faults rather than say that you never made any. Admitting past mistakes will make you seem down to Earth which will lift away any doubts about your credibility. For example, imagine you are selling cars and the customer asks whether there were any recalls of a specific model. This is a great opportunity to establish trust if there were recalls indeed. Here is how that conversation could go.
“You know, that is a good question. Yes, about a year ago 200 units of this model were recalled for faulty electrical wiring. This helped us to perfect this model and take care of those 200 people who bought it. Now, these models are flawless.”
2. Bring out the elephant in the room
A customer can voice certain uncovered concerns or doubts, but if you do it first, you are syncing with his thought pattern. Since nothing is perfect, that elephant can be brought out into the room for building trust. To find these ‘elephants’ if you do not know them (you should), dig through your product reviews. It could be things like the price of your product, the uncertainty of success, and any other possible problems people are mentioning. For example, if the price is the objection, you could say this:
“Now, I know how you may be skeptical about our price, but I would like to reassure you that you are getting equivalent value for this product. [Then build value for the customer here].”
One fantastic example of a company doing this even before conversing with a customer through marketing is the dating app Hinge. Their motto is ‘Designed to be deleted’ and oh boy does it encourage trust. Why? Because one of the main concerns of people with dating apps is that they exist to swoop in the customer’s money at every opportunity and keep the customer engaged for as long as possible. Hinge uses this concern to bring out the elephant in the room. They tell their customer that their app exists for them to find their second half and they understand that the customer’s success comes at the point when he deletes their app.
I also like how David Angel brings out the elephant in the room when performing a cold call. He tells potential leads then and there when his call is answered:
“Oh hi! Just to let you know, this one is a cold call. You might want to hang up now and run for the hills. Or give me 30 seconds and I will tell you what I am calling about.”David Angel
This is a brilliant method to ease the tension of a cold call. The truth is most people hate those. Salespeople try ineffectively to shove their products or services without paying much heed to the customer’s time and interest. When those potential leads hear what they are thinking – the elephant in the room – they frequently give those 30 seconds to David.
3. Connect through your story
To a potential customer, you are yet another company out of millions. Your main purpose is taking money. You want the customer’s money and that is why you are talking to the customer. That is why the start of any B2C (and even B2B) relationship lacks trust. The customer does not know anything else about your company and whether you have some human values they harmonize with. He also does not know your company’s story. So the human aspect of your business is practically invisible at the start.
To build trust, it is crucial to let your customer empathize with your mission. Do not hesitate to share that human corporate vision and/or your humble beginnings. Explain why your company provides what it does in a passionate way. Once your customer sees that there is more to your mission than just taking money and that you are truly enthusiastic about your products or services, you may even convert the customer into loyalty. It is all about that human connection. Plus, when a salesperson knows the company story by heart, it shows that internally there is much more for the staff than just work and regulations.
4. Fight for your customer within the company
This is a piece of advice for someone who is actually employed as a salesperson, rather than someone in a tiny startup team or running his own business. In a large corporation, there is usually a vast hierarchy. An employee may need to approve something with the upper management, hence, this step can be used to a salesperson’s benefit. The fact that the approval is necessary gives you the advantage to position yourself as someone who will ‘fight’ the upper management for the customer. This kind of approach boosts trust due to the ultimate display of personal care.
After your promise of fighting for the customer (for example, to get a discount), internally you do not obviously engage in actual fighting or arguing. Hopefully, you have already discussed with your upper management that you can use such techniques, and all you need is their “OK” to convert this potential customer. The chance of conversion, in this case, is significantly higher because you put in this effort to build the customer’s trust. He will appreciate the good news after your ‘effort.’
5. Social proof via success stories
People normally trust a company more if other customers have good things to say about it. For example, if there are good reviews about your product or service, or if you can demonstrate success stories. The reason is simple. Those other customers have no intention to lie and are not biased toward the company. Therefore, if you struggle to establish a trusting relationship, use social proof to demonstrate how customers find your product valuable.
As you can see, trust is a delicate matter. Using the tips above you can nurture that desired trusting relationship with your customer with more success. Of course, these are pointers from my personal experience, and there are other ways. If you know another great way to establish trust, share it in the comments below!
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