There’s no denying it – we live in a world of rising uncertainty, complexity and turbulence. Between the breakneck speed of technology and its growing incursions into our lives, our polarized political landscape and the geopolitical challenges coming at us daily, it’s not surprising that for many of us, our trust of others – from our political and religious leaders all the way down to the folks next door – has hit what feels like an all-time low. Our knee-jerk response to just about everything we’re told is skepticism – and if you’re in business, that’s a problem.
If you’re a CEO, business leader or entrepreneur, trust is the one thing your business can’t live without. Without trust, there’s no sale. Before someone is willing to push their money across the table to you, they’ve got to believe that your product or service will do what you say it will. They have to trust you. So, how do we build that required trust between our potential customers and ourselves? In a word, authority.
In a risky world, people yearn for something to believe in; a rock of certainty they can count on. As a leader, having expertise and significant knowledge you can share with customers to help them make better decisions – having authority – makes you that dependable rock. Your authority creates trust, and when someone trusts you, there’s no shopping around or kicking the tires. They make their purchase decision around the value that you’re bringing them, because your authority means they can trust you. You’re the advisor, the counselor, the coach – the expert.
What happens when there’s low or no trust? You’re not seen as a reliable advisor; you’re just another salesperson, someone trying to take money out of their pocket. You’re a pest, not a welcome guest – and your would-be customer is much more likely to shop around. Don’t kid yourself; when a prospect tells you, “I need to do my research before I decide,” what they’re really saying is, “I don’t trust you.” Now that person will make his purchase decision based on price, because you’re merely a commodity with nothing to differentiate you from the other people trying to sell to him.
That’s why authority matters – because when you grow your authority, your customers’ trust grows with it. When you and your company are seen as more trustworthy, you speed up the sales cycle and take price out of consideration. You have a value proposition that sets you apart – and people buy will buy on value rather than making a choice based on price.