When I was a university student…broke as a joke…I got a Summer job doing door-to-door promotions for a paint product.
After a few days of sales training, we were sent out in teams of two to canvass specific neighbourhoods.
Our job was to convince people to sign up for a follow-up call or visit from the sales team who would then come in to close. We would earn a percentage of the commission.
My sales buddy was another new recruit, Steve, a young white man in his early twenties.
Our trainer dropped us off in a quiet suburb in North London to put our new sales skills into practice.
Nervously going over the scripts in my mind, I rang the doorbell of the first house in a row of identi-kit terraced homes.
An elderly lady opened the door but didn’t remove the latch.
“What do you want?” she asked, sounding more nervous than me.
I started my introduction, but before I had said more than a few sentences, she muttered,
“No, not interested, goodbye.”
I thought she closed the door a little too firmly, but I shook off the sting of rejection and continued next door.
A man spoke through the letter box and very politely told me to go away.
At the next house, another elderly lady came to the door, looked through the peephole and retreated.
Meanwhile, I could see Steve across the road, having long chats with prospective customers and even entering their homes.
After about an hour of talking to doors, I realized that I had to figure out a way to get these prospects to listen to me.
I went over to Steve.
“Listen mate, I can’t get anyone to let me in. It’s like they’re scared of me. Could you do a couple of rounds with me and if we get anything from it, I’ll share it with you?”
Door-knocking with Steve was a whole different experience.
The same people who had been talking to me through the letter box or behind latches, opened their doors wide to Steve.
They welcomed him into their homes, casting cautious glances my way as I traipsed in behind him, as he assured them, “she’s alright, she’s with me.”
Steve, who was at least 6ft 2, with what one might call a husky frame, was somehow less threatening than a 19-year old, 5ft 5 girl, who happened to be black.
No Trust. No Progress.
Now, I am not telling this story for you to feel sorry for me or to round up Reverend Al.
I want to talk about marketing and help you do it better.
Here’s what you can take from this:
By asking Steve to knock on doors with me, I overcame my customers’ primary objection – TRUST.
Without removing that barrier, I would never have had the opportunity to make my presentation.
Similarly, you need to overcome your customer’s primary objection before anything else.
And that primary objection is usually around trust.
Who are you?
Why should I listen to you?
Why should I trust you enough to let you into my world?
You have to address these questions before you start to make your pitch.
Trust is the factor that influences prospects to choose your product or service. They need to trust that you can solve their problem.
They need to trust that you understand and care about their situation.
They need to trust that you are worth the money you charge.
Building trust is the short cut to gaining influence in someone’s life. You are much more likely to listen to the opinion of a trusted friend or colleague than a total stranger.
So, if you want to someone to listen to you, buy from you and act on what you have to say, then you first have to build trust.
Hard to Gain. Easy to Lose.
Unfortunately, trust has become very difficult to earn and even harder to keep.
We are living in what the New York Times calls the Decade of Distrust. In this recent article, the New York Times discussed how public perception of social and traditional media, the worlds of business and entertainment and of course politics have fallen to historic lows.
We are inundated by thousands of media messages both online and offline every day and all the hype, fake news, dissemblance and spin has caused us to lose faith in what we hear.
So, how do you cut through the fog? How do you build trust with customers?
Now more than ever, people crave connection and authenticity.
To build trust, you need to show enough of yourself and know enough about your people to connect on an emotional level with your audience.
The more you share the real you – stories, ideas, insights that add value – the more your audience will begin to look to you for guidance and begin to trust you.
When they trust you, they listen to you. When they listen, then they can buy from you.
Authority breeds Trust.
As noted in this article in Imforza “It’s really all about trust. Authorship, Author Rank, Online Authority, Thought Leadership – no matter what we call it, we’re really just talking about building trust.”
Positioning yourself as an authority brand is the key to building deep trust. Being an authority in your niche gives you an unfair advantage that throws the doors wide open. Authority gives you credibility and the ability to position yourself as a premium brand to your market.
How do you become an authority? First, cut through that mental fire-wall that is preventing you from seeing yourself in that light. Decide to be an authority. See yourself, refer to yourself and brand yourself as an authority. Nobody is going to come and give you an authority badge to convince you.
Being a authority brands starts with understanding, embracing and leveraging what makes you uniquely you. Lead with your strengths and showcase your values. People are drawn not just to what you do but to who you are.
You need to go to market with a clear message, not just a bunch of products. Re-frame your perception of yourself from being simply an entrepreneur or a coach or consultant, to being a messenger with a message that can transform people’s lives and businesses.
You need to identify your most receptive audience, instead of trying to hawk your wares to anyone who crosses your path. When you connect with your perfect people that will ignite your business and help establish your authority.
You need to share your insights and perspectives, not keep churning out the same pedestrian blog posts. Don’t be afraid to take a stand or to share your point of view.
You need to build connection through story. It is your story that will capture the hearts and minds of your audience, not all the details about your coaching program or your consulting process. I know you’ve spent hours figuring out whether your program should have 5 modules or 6…but unless people have connected to you first – through your story – nobody really cares.
As you market your business, especially as a coach, consultant or service provider, lead with authority. Be consistent, give value and do whatever it takes to win the trust of your prospects.
When canvassing for that paint company, I could have practised my sales scripts until my delivery rivalled Tony Robbins on fire.
But without overcoming my prospects’ primary objection – trust, I couldn’t even get in the door.
So, before you set out to pitch, spend some time building trust so that you’re not left standing in the street.
And by the way, Steve…wherever you are…cheers mate.