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Influence: Trust Me on This One

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Buying is ultimately about trust. And the unconscious calculation (if you can even call it that) in the mind of the buyer about whether or not they trust you is best described using the following formula:

TRUST = [(Credibility) + (Authenticity)] / (Perceived Self-Interest)

It takes into consideration your track record, your authentic wish to improve the lives of the customer with your offer, and any selfish motives you've snuck in to the process. Remember, people like to buy from people they admire, and no one admires a self-interested bully.

Don't position yourself as the old-fashioned self-motivated sales person knocking on doors. You are a consultant there to help fill gaps with your offer to enable prospective buyers to achieve an aspirational version of themselves. It is a peer-to-peer interaction and your intention should be to add value.

Consider the following example, from Kelly Hlavinka, the recent managing partner of COLLOQUY, the independent thought leadership arm of LoyaltyOne, a global provider of loyalty services.

"The point of the COLLOQUY research and publication is not to figure out a way to sell more to people. Rather, it's designed to take a genuine look at the bigger picture. I want to help teach and inform the loyalty industry on how to do things better -- that's what motivates me."

LoyaltyOne exists to enrich relationships between brands and customers and to ultimately cultivate an environment for longer-term loyalty. Bryan Pearson, president and CEO of LoyaltyOne, has literally gone as far as to write the book on loyalty.

The impetus to develop the COLLOQUY brand as well as for Bryan to write the book was one in the same -- all parties believed that loyalty just wasn't being done right. It wasn't about figuring out how to build relationships with customers so that they might buy more, but was rather about understanding that if they focused on legitimately building strong loyalty programs that genuinely gave back to the customers, the increased revenue would come on its own. A subtle shift in perspective, positive intent truly can make all the difference.

Watch the video as I unpack the "trust equation" even further, looking at how you can proactively ensure you maximize your perceived credibility and associated authenticity when compared to your self-interest. Does the buyer believe you can follow through with your offer? Does he or she associate you with a sense of authenticity and positive intention? Are these attributes undermined by an explicit or perceived sense of your self-interest?

We will specifically touch upon seven proven strategies you can use to rapidly build trust:
  1. Passion and persistence
  2. Appearance
  3. Referrals
  4. Testimonials
  5. Guarantees
  6. Price
  7. Pitch less, pull more

I know the video is a bit longer than usual, but trust is a key component and deserves your full attention and time commitment. After you watch, I want you to do a few more things. Employ at least three of these strategies in your pitch, advertising, website, language, etc. Seriously, get some testimonials, consider offering a guarantee, ask for a referral from a satisfied client. This stuff is not rocket science, but it could make a world of difference on your path to success.

Above all else, come up with five ways that you could demonstrate a greater level of passion for your offer. If your offer doesn't get you emotionally charged, then there is little or no chance it will strike much of a chord with anyone else. Remember what got you so inspired to embark on this journey in the first place, and make it a stand-out component of your offer.

Influence - The Trust Formula from Peter Sheahan on Vimeo.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Peter Sheahan on the topic of Making It Happen in Small Business, focused on turning those with the ideas into those with the influence. To see all of the posts in the series, click here.