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Why trust is the true currency for any business Blog Feature

Marcus Sheridan

Keynote Speaker, Author & Partner, Author of ’They Ask You Answer”, Presented 250+ Sales, Marketing, & Communication Workshops Worldwide

July 9th, 2020 min read

Trust is a foundational principle that transcends all industries and markets. Principles have no beginning and no end.

If you were to ask someone if Facebook or Google are going to be fundamental parts of their business’ success in 25 years, they will say they don't really know. 

However, if you ask someone if trust will be a fundamental part of their business' success, they will say, absolutely.

Facebook is a platform, a tool. Tools come and go as markets change. 

Even Google, which we’ve seen become so firmly cemented at the top of the search engine marketplace, is just a tool.

Trust is a timeless principle.

It has been vital to success for centuries — and will continue to be for centuries more. When we are talking about success on a platform — when we talk about ranking well in Google searches or having a strong Facebook presence — we’re really talking about trust.

Do buyers trust what you’re saying? Do they trust your expertise?

If yes, the platforms will reward you.

What we talk about when we talk about trust

Businesses tend to ask themselves: What content can we produce to rank well in searches?

But what they really are saying is this: What content can we produce to build trust in order to rank well in searches? 

It’s so easy to use the shorthand version, but the more we do, the more we forget about the full question we’re asking. We forget that trust is the true currency of business.

If people don’t trust you, they won’t feel like you have their best interest in mind or that you will actually deliver on your promises. They won’t trust you to solve their problems.

To put it simply, if people don't trust you they won’t want to buy from you. 

The power of first impressions

Because recovering trust is more difficult than building trust from a neutral starting point, first impressions are crucial.

When customers find you online, they immediately expect your sales pitch. 

Imagine you walk onto a car dealership lot and a salesman comes striding out. Do you expect that salesman to have your best interests at heart, or are you anticipating the whole “Have I got the perfect car for you” routine?

Similarly, site visitors are expecting your bias, but you can disarm them by pointedly showing neutrality. Rather than producing content about “Why HubSpot is right for you,” try “Is HubSpot the right fit for you?” One shows bias, one does not.

We tell ourselves that the buyer doesn't really want to know how we feel about a product because we're the ones that are selling it. 

If that were true, the buyer would never ask us questions. They're still holding out a little bit of hope that we might be real and honest with them.

Unfortunately, they're usually disappointed.

With that in mind, let's focus on how we can build trust with our audience.

3 ways to build trust

1. Obsess over customer questions

To me, trust begins when a business decides to obsess over customer questions

In every industry, there are the questions we hope the prospect asks, and the questions we hope the prospect doesn’t ask.

The companies that become the most trusted voices in their industry lean into the questions that no one wants to answer, like questions about price or product shortcomings. 

When you address these questions in your content, potential customers take notice and trust you before you have any direct contact with them.

If you wait to address these issues until you’re speaking with prospects directly, you’ll find yourself playing catch-up. 

By that point, they’ve already begun to form opinions about you, good or bad. 

But if you address it before you’re asked, you’re being proactive and controlling the narrative. 

Customers are more likely to trust you if you’re being upfront — especially about shortcomings, price, or other topics most businesses want to avoid.

2. Teach how they want to learn

When you speak to customers you’ve not yet met, you need to do it in the style they want to hear it. 

This means two things:

First, format matters. If your customer wants video but you’re only writing content, that produces a disconnect. 

Second, timing matters. Chances are, your customers don’t want to wait until the first sales call to learn whether your service is the right fit for them.

Rather, they want the information on-demand, consumable at whatever stage in their buyer’s journey they are in. 

If the information is not there, the buyer assumes that you have something to hide. Businesses that have something to hide are not seen as trustworthy.

3. Sell the way they want to buy

Today’s modern consumer expects to be able to buy in a way that’s easy and convenient.

There are still many companies that are holding firmly to old models where you have to talk to a sales rep to get any information. Meanwhile, disruptors are looking at everything that causes frustration during the buying process and trying to alleviate it. 

Companies like Uber and Zappos have turned well-established industries upside down. 

Twenty years ago, no one would want to buy a pair of shoes without trying them on first. What if they don’t fit? Well, Zappos looked at that, built a customer-centered return policy, and alleviated that pain point. 

People hated getting into a cab, not knowing how much their journey would cost them. Uber built a model to solve for it. 

Companies that are not selling the way people want to buy are going to find themselves getting left behind. 

The companies that are willing to sell the way people want to buy will win business — and build trust.

Repairing broken trust

The best businesses see negative feedback from customers and clients as a blessing

It’s easy to take things personally and get defensive, or to blame the customer for being difficult, but there’s a good chance that customer is at least partially right.

If you get a negative review online, maybe a dozen other people are thinking the exact same thing but didn’t take the time to write it down. 

But if you can listen to your customers, if you can own your past missteps and shortcomings, it can go a long way toward building trust in the marketplace.

To me, the best example of this in the past decade is Domino’s Pizza. With slumping sales and mounting customer complaints, Domino’s launched a campaign that took full ownership of the situation. 

With the Oh Yes We Did campaign, Domino’s acknowledged its critics and used their feedback to chart a new course. 

This model can be followed in every single industry. If your business has negative reviews — and customers recognize this — you can say, “you know what, those bad reviews helped us identify some weak areas, and here’s what we’ve done to improve.”

That way, in one swift motion you have validated your past customers and built trust with your future customers. 

Why video builds trust fastest

For thousands of years, people have been saying that seeing is believing.

Today, video is easier to produce than ever before, and it truly allows your prospects to see inside your company.

Here's an example from Dexmet, one of our clients.

Notice how you're immediately drawn into the video sharing the people and the processes that make this company unique.

Even if their specialty has no connection to your business, you're intrigued. 

The thing is, most businesses in any given marketplace are all saying the same thing: “It’s our people that make us different. We have the best quality, we have the best service. We care.”

When everyone is saying the same thing, it just becomes noise — until someone is willing to stand out by showing what makes their company unique.

If you can show how your quality compares, how great your people are, then they speak for themselves. You build trust because people can see the proof for themselves.

Some manufacturers are hesitant to talk about their processes, but it builds trust with your audience to show what you do. 

Instead of saying something is proprietary, imagine saying “let me show you exactly how we build our product. Let me introduce you to the people who will fulfill your order.”

If you’re willing to show that, it means that you’re going to stand behind what you do.

If you’re willing to be transparent, to embrace video, to listen to your customers, past, present, and future, you can build trust.

You can become the most trusted voice in your space — and we are all in the business of trust.

Featured image courtesy of Connecticut Headshots

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