“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” —Albert Einstein
“Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.” —Zig Ziglar
All relationships are built on trust. The level of trust depends on what’s at risk in the relationship: a cup of coffee, buying a house together, purchasing a tube of toothpaste, getting married.
In business, trusted relationships make for loyal customers. When someone buys from you more than once, they have chosen to get what your business delivers and they trust just enough to try for a repeat experience. On the 10th time they buy again, their trust has grown, the feeling of risk has diminished, and they feel comfortable counting on a predictable satisfying experience.
Trust gets built. And trust can get broken.
Building trust can come from repeat experience, as I illustrated above. Trust also gets built with referrals and testimonials, the primary reason businesses collect those and encourage reviews on sites like Yelp or Google.
We can also build trust before someone buys from us. Integrity is a key building block of trust. When someone buys, they’re testing to see if they get what they thought they were going to get. The closer that is, the higher the integrity, and the more trust.
Developing trust prior to a sale involves demonstrating your integrity as a business. Here are some meaningful ways to do that, from mundane to creative:
- Be open the hours you post that you’ll be open: on your door, on your website, on social sites. Keep that up to date and accurate. Post notices if something changes.
- Keep your contact information correct on all sites: phone, address, email, whatever applies to your business.
- Make it easy to initiate business with you. Online, clearly identify how to start a conversation or make a purchase. In real life, keep your place of business easy to see, clean, welcoming. Have an automatic message that says when you’ll respond to someone.
- Maintain information about your products/services on signage, online, in person. If you no longer offer something, remove it. If you have something new, add it.
- When someone contacts your business, give them information on how soon you’ll respond and then follow through on that.
- Give prospective buyers an opportunity to have a taste of your follow-through and personality with a free offer: newsletter, short workshop, downloadable checklist. A no-strings-attached piece of value that you deliver promptly and enthusiastically.
- Offer some small entry-level product/service and then follow through by over-delivering.
The more creative you are in demonstrating your business’s level of integrity, follow through, and quality of experience, the more trust you build and the higher the probability that you’ll have a new customer.
Of course, you need to be mindful of the expense of building trust. Your lifetime customer value should exceed your customer acquisition cost. Demonstrating integrity and building relationship by using some of these suggestions and your own creative ideas will likely add very little to your acquisition cost, and in many cases may reduce it by replacing high-cost search ads and other types of advertising that reinforce transactional relationships rather than loyalty.
You probably have quite a few ways you could easily start building trust with your prospective customers that wouldn’t take much work to put in place. Give one of them a try. It’s a way to grow your business that doesn’t require inventory, capital expansion, or hiring more people.
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” –Stephen R. Covey