Would you choose to work with someone who you don’t trust? Would you buy from someone who you don’t trust? Would you spend more with someone who you trust more? How much do your customers trust you?

Trust is one of those concepts that we all have in the back of our mind, but it’s hard to focus on deliberately doing anything about it. We tend to think that either people trust us, or they don’t. It’s not something like profit that we can measure and put in a bank account. Or is it?

Actually there’s a lot you can do to establish and build trust. I break it down into the following: HONESTY x CREDIBILITY x RELIABILITY x LIKEABILITY

If you can demonstrate all of these, you’re a long way toward having a very high level of trust with those around you. To gain new customers, you really need to establish this kind of trust very rapidly – when you meet them or when they look at your website, for example.

You could put yourself in the shoes of your prospects or existing customers and score yourself on each of the measures. Try it with different people and see how your scores vary, and see which measures score lowest, then work on improving them. Or have someone else look at your website and score it on these measures. Let me give you a few examples to improve your scores.

HONESTY: Admit you’re not perfect. Mention occasions when you made mistakes. Speak honestly about things that others know to be true.

CREDIBILITY: Provide customer testimonials. Market-based on referrals. Talk about past successes. List trade organisations. Gain industry awards.

RELIABILITY: Under-promise and over-deliver. Be specific about times, prices, and expectations. Remind people what you said you would do, and that you did it.

LIKEABILITY: Take an interest in the other person. Smile. Speak well of others. Look for positives and highlight them. Demonstrate belief in others. Be human – show images of customers and your team on your website.

What actually matters is people’s perception of the above, and past history can influence that. Ideally, you need to demonstrate all of the above consistently for a number of occasions and with consistency to increase the level of trust.

All of these positive measures can be undermined by one key thing:

SELF INTEREST: If people get the impression that the reason you’re saying something or helping them is all about your own self interest, it completely undermines the trust. If a salesman is only recommending something because they’ll make a better commission, we don’t trust what they say. If a friend recommends something because they’ll get a free gift for introducing you, we lose trust in them.

By focusing consistently on establishing Honesty, Credibility, Reliability and Likeability, and ensuring we focus on the others, you will establish and build trust with those around you, and your business – and life – will grow.

Rob Pickering,
Senior Partner & Business Coach