How can you persuade people to trust you?

We often hear about the “know, like and trust” factor. The idea is that all three are important if you want potential customers to see you as the go-to person for your particular product and service and buy from you. But how do you actually get people to trust you?

People get to know you if you show up consistently, provide value and give them information that is relevant. They will decide for themselves whether they like you, and whether your style, products or services appeal to them. But how can you persuade people to trust you? Here are a few ideas.

Kirsty working with students

1. Mean what you say

I don’t say that I answer every message. This would commit me to answering everything that people send me – including spam, inappropriate messages and all kinds of other things that are on the fast-track to the recycle bin. But if I ask for interaction, it’s not unreasonable for people to think that I will take the time to respond. So if you say that you’re going to respond to people, make sure that you do.

One of the ways to get to know new people on your mailing list is to ask a question that starts a dialogue. This is great, and I’ve seen some people doing this really well. However I’ve also come across someone who said they really wanted to hear from new readers. I took the time to write him an email and he didn’t respond. Subsequent emails in his series reiterated the same message. It would have been better if he’d never made this promise in the first place, because it creates an expectation that he could not or didn’t want to fulfil. So always think carefully about what you say you’re going to do … and do it! This includes not overcommitting yourself, (which results in needing to let people down), and being organised enough to know whom you’ve promised to call back/send further information/catch up with at a later date.

2. It’s better to over-deliver than to short-change

If you want to be remembered as someone who delivers on their promises, why not go just that bit further. I’m not talking about allowing people to take advantage of you, but if you exceed their expectations, they’ll be more likely to tell their friends and speak positively if your business comes up in conversation. Let people experience the value and benefit that you can bring to them – not just by talking about it, but by delivering that value in your day-to-day work.

3. Be honest with money

Hidden charges are not cool. Give people direct answers if they want to know how much something will cost.

If someone thinks they owe you money and they don’t, be honest with them. Damage to reputation if you get found out is far worse than the few pounds you could have made.

If you get a reputation for being dishonest, that label will stick and it will be hard to get rid of it. On the other hand, if you’re known for your integrity, this will often carry more weight than any marketing that you do for yourself.

4. Be discreet

Working with you may involve customers telling you things that they would not like you to share, or giving you access to confidential information. Honour their trust and don’t talk about these things with other people. You’d be surprised how quickly things can get back to the person who originally told you, how easily stories can change, and how hard it is to rebuild trust after it has been broken.

I don’t mean that you should never use anecdotes if they are about general things, but it shouldn’t be anything that the other person feels is personal to them or confidential.

5. Give a consistent message – even when you think it doesn’t matter

Once I heard someone say that they didn’t actually care about social media engagement, they just wanted the money from the potential leads. Ok, on one hand that was honest, but after this, that person had lost all credibility with me when they next tried to get a conversation going on Facebook.

Ultimately we all want people to buy from us, but I would rather give my business to someone who is genuinely interested in the customers as people, not just numbers on a spreadsheet.

6. Don’t keep moving boundaries to suit yourself

The closing date for the course is 30th September, so you need to hurry up and make your decision by then, otherwise it will be too late. That’s fair enough, but not when other people join the course at the end of October. It makes people question your integrity far more than a waiting list for the next course would. Don’t be that person who appears to be chasing the next pound at the cost of their integrity. If the course closes on 30th September, it closes on 30th September. If you say that the course will have 10 participants and 20 apply, run two courses or have a waiting list, but don’t run the programme with 20 people and give people conditions that are less favourable than those to which they signed up.

7. Don’t be that pushy sales person

Do you like pushy sales people? Do you want to do business with them? If you’re at an event and someone makes a beeline for you to tell you why their business is so great. Do you stick around or look for an excuse to get out of the conversation?

People won’t trust you if they think you’re only interested in getting an audience so that you can talk about yourself or what you have to offer. Neither will they trust you if they feel hounded into making a decision.

8. Show, don’t tell

If you’re interested in your customers and their success, happiness or whatever, don’t bleat on about it, show them. Try to take a genuine interest that shows you value your customers, particularly if you’re working with them regularly. People really appreciate it when you remember small details about what they’ve told you, particularly if it’s something that they haven’t just told you.

This last point sums up all the others. If you want people to trust you, you need to prove to them that you can be trusted. Not by your words, but by your actions, which, brick by brick, build your good reputation.

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One Comment on “How can you persuade people to trust you?”

  1. Kirsten says:

    These are great points! And I’ve seen them all done poorly at least once online. :) Great suggestions!!


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