Trust is an important part of doing business.
What customer is going to do business with a company they don’t even trust? This isn’t rocket science, but a bigger problem exists when the general public doesn’t trust an entire industry. In that situation you’ve got a customer who is skeptical before they even walk through the door.
This means you have to take a more nuanced approach to how you do business. If you’ve started a company (e.g. law firm, insurance agency, financial firm, etc.) in an industry that is distrusted by massive swathes of the population, both in the UK and in the US, you should take special care with customers to build credibility and trust.
Here’s how to get started:
Accept your starting point.
There’s no point in being blind to it. If people are distrustful of your industry then accept it and work with it. You can’t control the perception of an entire industry, but you can control how customers perceive your brand and business. Don’t be afraid to use the negative reputation of your industry in your favor.
Make the effort to show customers how you’re different from the competition. You can do this by being open and using a little self-deprecating humor. The best way is to do things differently. If you’re able to change your practice to directly combat the criticisms of your profession then do it.
For example, the Metro Bank, Britain’s first new High Street bank (i.e., a business differentiated from more specialized, exclusive and expensive competitors, like larger private or investment banks) in over 100 years, is a prime example of this. Their branches do things differently than larger financial institutions by offering extended hours, allowing pets, offering customers toilets, drive-thru banking and more.
Show restraint in your sales technique.
If customers walk in, wary of unscrupulous industry behavior, they’ll certainly be put off by pushy sales tactics. They’ll also be watching out for gimmicks, even if you’re not attempting to pull the wool over their eyes. That’s why you’ll want to employ a softer sales approach to start. Don’t jump at every opportunity to make a sales pitch.
Instead, let the customer lead the conversation. Rather than asking direct questions, be broad in your inquiries. Allow the client to navigate to the point with gentle leading. Obviously this will extend the sales process, but it will also allow the customer to have some sense of control, which will stop them from thinking you’re leading them down the wrong path.
The best way to convince a customer of your best qualities is to have someone else tell them. You can shout about how great you are, but a good customer testimonial will always prevail. Whenever you have a happy customer encourage them give you a testimonial. Try to avoid scripting and allow the customer to recommend your company or service in their own words. A written testimonial is great, but an online video is easily achievable and significantly more compelling.
Keep your word.
Finally, the ultimate solution to being in an industry people don’t trust is to prove your customer wrong. Don’t lie, don’t drown them in babble, and do what you say you’re going to do. Just because someone walks into your office with a sense of distrust doesn’t mean they’ll always have one.
Again, use the negative image of your industry as an impetus to do the best job you can do. You might have to work a bit harder than others, but if you prove yourself as the only good apple out of a pile of rotten ones, you’ll be doing well.
This article has been edited and condensed.
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