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Trust: How your behavior affects buyers' choices

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Dick Cross
Dick Cross - (Photo / )

Something's new about how people buy things. It's happened over just the past few years.

Many attribute it to the economy. Others to changes in family dynamics. And still others to social media. It’s not critical to understand why, just to acknowledge it exists.

Because businesses that “get it” are thriving. And those that don’t aren’t.

For example, it’s not enough now to give employees competitive compensation, attractive conditions for work and a sense of security -- if you want them to give you their all.

Just like it’s not enough now for the features, functionality, quality, convenience and price of what you sell to match others’ -- if you want zealot customers.

Today, people are looking for something more than the goods. They’re looking for trust -- in the businesses from whom they buy.

How about guarantees?

That misses the point. Entirely.

Today, most people assume that whatever they buy is going to work. So they’ve raised their sights. Now deciding which businesses to support with their purchases is based on a different angle of trust that doesn’t have much to do with what they’re buying. It’s about:

  • Whether a business reflects values they respect.
  • Whether it aligns with ideas they seek in their own lives.
  • Whether its “persona” is one they’d feel good about supporting, to be known to be associated with and to welcome into their lives.

So, if this kind of trust isn’t about what’s being sold, or even the buying experience per se, where does it come from?

Only one place: It comes from the top.

But there’s a problem. Most people running businesses underestimate the degree to which others scrutinize even the most minute detail of their personal behavior for signals of trust. And they underestimate the power of emulation that spreads the models they exhibit throughout the rest of their organizations.

Accordingly, few pay the assiduous attention required to continuously convey the consistent signals that anchor trust, that they want to have emulated and amplified by every other person in their businesses -- and, thereby, to customers, suppliers, bankers and all the others whose opinions matter in sustaining a vibrant enterprise.

The tips?

  • Take time, alone, to think about the values that mean most to you about your business. Get it down to no more than four. Three is better.
  • Discuss them with your key employees.
  • Make a pact that each of you will spend three minutes -- uninterrupted, first thing every morning -- looking at those values. And another three minutes at the end of every day.
  • Then commit to tell each other about things you’ve done every day that align with the values. And ask everyone to question each other when they see, or hear about, something that appears not to.

The effect?

Soon you’ll notice others acting in ways that more clearly align with your values. Because they’ll trust you more. Then they’ll start infecting others. They’ll be raising the general level of trust of your business among all the people who count: customers, suppliers and the general community you serve.

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Dick Cross

Dick Cross

Dick Cross is a serial CEO; a professional keynote speaker; a best-selling author; founder of The Cross Partnership Ltd.; and a founding member of Alston Capital Partners. Email him at dickcross@crosspartnership.com. Follow him on Twitter, @DickCross3.

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