Consultant marketing : The Brutal Truth About Trust

Ya got it or you don’t.

I was having coffee with a former client. He asked a favor that involved me contacting a person who had spoken for an organization I handle marketing for the slides from the presentation.

I asked why he didn’t contact the speaker direct. His answer surprised me.

“I trust you and I figure he does as well,” he said, “So he will be happy to do a favor if you ask.

It turns out he was accurate in his assessment. But before I knew that I asked him,

“I am honored by your trust but how long have I enjoyed that position?”

He responded by saying that it went back to the first time he saw me speak. The subject was 30-Second Marketing (6 minute video) I presented at meeting of the local chapter of the Institute of Management Consultants. (IMCnow).

“That was years ago,” I responded. “Since then I’ve been a consultant for your company and you’ve referred me to other profitable business and even one company you had invested in, why does that speech stand out in your mind?”

He took a sip of coffee and held up a hand. With the other he lifted one finger at a time with an ongoing commentary,

  1. That night you didn’t try to hide how to do it. You literally revealed all.
  2. I watched you use it in multiple networking situations. Each time it sounded like you just came up with it.
  3. When you trained my partners to do it our close rate doubled.
  4. You never let me down when I referred you.
  5. Over the ten years I’ve known you, you do exactly what you say you will do when you introduce yourself. What’s not to trust?

I, of course, thanked him profusely.

Are you trusted?

Think about how you are perceived by contacts and colleagues, prospects and purchasers.

Your livelihood is dependent on whether people believe in you or not.

Paying the rent is dependent on how your boss, your client or your customer perceives you.

The faith that people put in you, your brand, if you will, makes all the difference.

You need to guard that assessment of your value. Here’s how:

  • Be accountable for all your actions.
  • Do everything you do with integrity
  • Strive to be consistent
  • Build credibility by doing all those things

Then you will be trusted. If you don’t it will be brutal.

Trust will make you a candidate for Credibility to Cash. To learn more let me know in the comments.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s speaker demo reel.His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Discovery Meeting

The Dance

where you sit down with a prospect and learn about her/his operation and get to ask questions from which you will develop a proposal.

You need to have this conversation whether you write a simple agreement or an in-depth three tier Value-based proposal. So that we are on the same page, Here’s what I believe should be included in a Value Based Proposal:

  • Statement of the situation
  • Objectives of the engagement
  • Measurement–outcomes that indicate success
  • Value to the prospect
  • Methodology and Options
  • Option 1 Project Advisor
  • Option 2 Market Expansion Advisor
  • Option 3 Trusted Advisor
  • Terms and Conditions

Meeting name

Don’t call it a Discovery meeting or chat or whatever. Put yourself in the position of the  prospect. To her or him, Discovery sounds like a scientific examination. It doesn’t sound friendly at all. Better words will be more neutral. For instance, consider:

  • Informational Get Together
  • Outcomes Conversation
  • Compatibility Chat
  • Get acquainted Discussion

Regardless of what you end up calling it, Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to elicit hard data in the prospect’s terms that will allow you to present three options that have higher outcomes for the prospect’s business as well as increased income for you.

For Starters

Start by determining the primary problem that has caused them to consider your services. I find that it is best to be direct. Ask questions like: What is the problem or concern that caused you to want to talk? In most cases the answer will be that some metric in the sales equation is off. Often this is a narrow view. Be sure to ascertain sufficient background information about the industry and cyclical changes to put the symptom in context. In addition it wise these days to look into disruptions by indirect competitors.

You are preparing a tripe tier Value Based Proposal. You need to have the prospect isolate the out come if this problem is solved. Ask, “What would it mean if we solved this problem?” You need an answer in terms of:

  • Savings
  • Increased Revenues or income
  • Outcome for individual or department or company
  • How it would present to those involved

Becoming unforgettable

Now that you know what would satisfy the primary concern you can probe for data that will help you move from memorable to unforgettable. That happens because you don’t stop with the symptom. You work with the prospect to determine root causes and other problems generated by the primary. You delve into comments you let slide by as they told you about the situation in general. You explore any comment that you believe is causing an unwanted outcome.

If they didn’t give you a long-term goal, get one now. If they were uncomfortable talking about any part of the operation, now is the time to ask. With many people once they have told you the big problem in their view, they will relax. Here is a string of questions that allow you to go deeper:

  1. How did you get started?
  2. Have things changed much since then?
  3. How does that impact the company today?
  4. What about in the future?
  5. What are you doing about it?
  6. How have the costs shifted because of that?
  7. What would it be worth to you if we could solve that?

The information that battery of questions generates will give you what you need to write Option 2 as well as have greater clarity for the situation, objectives, Measurement and Value.

Headed for indispensable

Each of us learn in the course of an engagement. We naturally become more conditioned to the client’s business. We acquire additional expertise in the industry and markets in which the client participates. That knowledge plus the intimate knowledge gained of the client business combined with your capability to see the patterns and think outside the box make it easy to become an ongoing advisor, planner and implementer.

That, unless deeper problems or concerns surface, is the essence of the third tier proposal which makes the consultant a member of the team on an ongoing basis.

Are there other questions? Of course. This is a conversation where you are gathering information.

Do not sell.

You can comment that you have worked with similar situations. You can agree to tell all about those but at a later date. You can admit if something is new but always suggest it sounds similar to something in your experience.

This interview is about getting as much information as you can from the prospect as possible. Often, the astuteness of your question will bring the client to the point they want to get started.

Resist the urge to give them a quote on the spot. Tell them that you want to really step back and look at what they have told you. Tell them they will have your proposal shortly and it will have your best thinking on how to proceed.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Assessments

Do you really want to know yourself?

The premise of every assessment I’ve ever seen is that you want to be analyzed so as to know yourself better and thereby:

  • Be able to build on your strengths
  • Overcome your weaknesses by knowing them
  • Build your mental toughness
  • Instill confidence and fit into the team better
  • Be more productive without sacrificing relationships

Harvard Business Review reports: “Recent research shows that about 76% of organizations with more than 100 employees rely on assessment tools such as aptitude and personality tests for external hiring. That figure is expected to climb to 88% over the next few years.”

This ain’t new

Humans have always wanted a way to predict behavior. One of those methods is available daily. Here’s part of the overall description it has for me.

Passionate, motivated, and confident leader who builds community with their cheerful disposition and relentless determination. Uncomplicated and direct in their approach, they often get frustrated by exhaustive details and unnecessary nuances.

They are people full of energy and vitality. With an intense and adventurous personality, they don’t fear anything. They’re always willing to begin new challenges and have a leader attitude which also gives them great self-security.

But they are impulsive, aggressive, and sensitive. Under stress, they will act without thinking. They are bad at facing the truth. They want self-control and get distracted by repetitive failure.

A new look

Because I’m embarking on a new program I was asked this week to work through two modern assessments. Here are the findings from one:

Strengths: Visionary; creative; optimistic; stimulating; able to inspire others; can multitask; quick to get results; great at getting things started.

Weaknesses: Poor sense of timing; impatient; over-optimistic with what others can achieve; easily distracted; terrible at getting things finished.

Successes: Best when free to create, with a team to promote and a team to watch the details. Excels when kept focused on the big picture strategy and the creative process through to the end result.

Failures: Failure comes from trying to control too much, run too fast, or expect too much of others. Creators often keep to themselves and so fail in their communication and expectations.

Notice any similarities?

The first is the description for Aries from Astrology.

The second is from the Wealth Dynamics Profiling System for Entrepreneurs.

Both are accurate. For the first, my date of birth was all that was required. For the last I spent about 30 minutes answering questions.

Behavior Prediction

The whole Idea behind assessments, ancient or modern is to reduce the risk in interpersonal relationships in all arenas of life. They are put to use when an individual is contemplating a major change. The only question is who pays for the reading.

I know that to do a really good astrological chart it is essential to have the exact date/time and location of birth of the subject. I know because I studied the work of Grant Lewi who said:

“Any good astrologer should be able to predict the date/time and place of their death.”

As I recall, he died one week after buying a million-dollar life insurance policy.

The modern assessments are easier for folks to accept being based on behavioral psychology. Asking a series of questions and seeing how they fit together can give you a relatively good picture of how the individual will perform over time. And, given today’s ability to analyze mountains of data have greater accuracy particularly in fitting together a superstar business team.

A caution

A few years ago when I was working in Denver the psychological group on the first floor asked our agency if we would be a beta group for an assessment they were developing. We accepted. They asked us to fill out a form with questions and to ask 5 “people who knew us well” to fill out the same form. When the data was collated all of us were impressed with the accuracy of the results. We tried to operate based on the new insights and found that knowing each team members strengths and weaknesses in psychological jargon was no substitute for having an increased awareness of the emotional basis of our behaviors and a little more caring.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Trust Story

Since March first I have been scheduled to speak on Trust 15 times.

I admit, I’ve been doing some outbound marketing to get some dates but the remarkable thing is that so many of these events have been booked because of the snowball effect.

For the short haul

Early on in the Pandemic I built out the Virtual presentation studio I believed would get me through a few months using gear I already had to record quality video testimonials for clients on location. Little did I know. Slowly but surely I’ve added equipment, a Logitech Brio Camera, a mike stand and Fifine Microphone, a Sony walkaround camera, upgraded Camtasia software, and even some audio switching capability.

The most difficult thing was finding a way to disquise the back wall of my office. I tried the Zoom backgrounds but decided against a green screen that would have to be rigged before each call. Then I tried some wallpaper to look like paneling. It peeled as there is a water heater behind the wall and besides that I didn’t like the partially concealed closet bifold door. Finally I found a photographers backdrop that looks like a white brick wall. It looks like the real thing on camera and disappears the closet door.

I had to learn how to use Zoom. I got educated on Hopin. And there are some other applications I’ll be working in shortly. It took a while but I’m now Virtual ready and experienced. I just haven’t had time to be certified by eSpeakers because I’ve been doing events!

Downhill and rollin’

So there I was, looking for speaking gigs. I went looking for exposure. I’d been lucky enough to have appeared for some event promoters and formed long term relationships for both live events and summits. I did every summit I could pushing for live panels rather than recorded slots in order to have the ability to do Q&A with participants and interact with hosts and other panelists.

It worked. Each summit generated other opportunities. One connected me to a Pod cast talent search engine that led to 4 pod casts. Another summit brought interest from Asia and Europe.

A week ago I went form breakfast to doing a virtual closing keynote and then to a  Virtual Pub for a London based organization. Simon, one of the founders was kind enough to make these comments.

Quotes, Stories, Facts and Figures

The title of the keynote is Trust in the New Normal. What’s Changed?

Here are some of the reasons I’m being asked to present this information:

Quotes:

  • In a panel on Lead development I said, “More is not better. Better is better and if Trust is part of that equation your return will multiply.” That led to a 20-minute discussion and two direct requests to present.
  • During one of four TV program keynotes for a Canadian Organization while presenting the elements of Trust: “You have to tell the story the same way every time. Consistency is rewarded duplicity isn’t.”

Stories:  

  • I’ve been opening each appearance with Michaels comment over a Fortune Cookie that ends: What you know matters. “Who you know can be important. BUT the single most important thing about building a business is who trusts you.”
  • My closing story will probably continue to be Margie, the Galactic Commander. I’ve told it live on 3 continents and now virtually as well. Margie’s Moxie makes all my observations about trust real with a chuckle thrown in.

Facts:

  • There is a brain chemical called Oxytocin which under lies our propensity to trust. When we’re stressed we have too little.  When we have enough we have greater empathy.
  • Scientists have found 8 management behaviors that use Oxytocin balance to make people more productive.  None of them have direct costs associated.

Figures:

  • The Edelman Annual Trust Barometer research shows that “People like me” are still more trusted than governments, media, NGOs and business.
  • The same study indicates that businesses are considered the most ethical and the most efficient and expected to lead in the New Normal.

Dates on hold

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and it is not a locomotive coming at us. I now have live dates creeping into my calendar: Las Vegas in May, San Diego in June and Dubai in late June. That’s Trust in the New Normal

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Brand Disruption

Two word darlings.

Brand. Disruption. Either gets attention in and of itself. Together they become hard to look away from.

Do conditions make it harder to be at successful at either? Or Both?

Innovation, agility and the ability to think laterally can overcome the economy, the pandemic and the general funk in the populace at the moment.

You could have a winner

  • If a celebrity is enthusiastic about your product and endorses it, you could have a winner.
  • If a government agency intervenes in your category and comes out with new rules you could have a winner.
  • If a fan becomes a social media star and brags on your product, you just might have a winner.
  • If you figure out that your brand is packaged for the wrong market, fix that and get market buy in then you have yourself a winner.
  • If dietary changes run into a continuing desire for comfort foods and you can make them, yes you have a winner.
  • When you come up with garments that are comfortable during a pandemic lock down but still have some style you definitely have a winner
  • When you can match the attitude of your market you an kick the competition to the curb. That is a winner.

We’re all familiar with organizations that have proven to be disruptors. In retail the big box stores changed the way we do business. Amazon changed the pace of delivery across a plethora of product lines. Tesla forced big automotive companies to get real about electric cars.

Little guys get it.

They realize that it is not about them, It is about how they matter to the people they serve. When you need them, they show up. When it is time to make a difference, they do. That makes a significant difference in brand perception. It is a way of thinking more than the statistics about the company. The pandemic has caused a shift, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. Today, the 33,000 people in 28 counties around the world in their 2020 survey find that Business is now the only institution seen as competent and ethical.

Chipotle is a good example. The company was quick to offer free delivery, raise salaries and feed workers on shift. That paid off with revenue increases nearly double the competition.

Who trusts you?

I had a battery problem once when I was parked at a regional shopping center. Some kind folks helped m push start the car and I drove to an auto service operation in the shopping center, left my car running and went inside to tell them I needed one of their nationally advertised and well branded products. I could see two empty bays from where I was standing but was told I would have to make an appointment.

I declined and called a friend to follow me to the Les Schwab outlet in my area. It is an Oregon founded company that sells tires, batteries, bakes, and the service that goes with them.

They run to your car when you pull in. I did not make that up. They run every time. The gentleman that ran to my car checked out the battery, told me what a new one would cost with installation then asked if I had the old paperwork in the glove compartment. We checked and found it. He took it and then said that because the old battery was one of theirs and had two months of warranty left that he would credit that on the new battery. He changed it out and I was on my way home in twenty minutes

Service is the pelota

That stone from David’s sling that dropped Goliath was called a pelota. Roman slingers made them out of clay fired rock hard. The point here is that being turned away by the big national chain drove me to a small local company. They ran and they gave me a credit and got my trust. That kind of trust is valuable. Since that day I’ve replaced batteries on two cars and put two sets of tires on my car, my wife’s and my daughter’s.

One battery sale worth under a hundred dollars led to purchases in excess of over $5000. Lifetime value (LTV) is what builds brands for Davids. Customer service that wows the guy or gal with a problem earns their trust. Treating you like an adult and dealing with you that way builds confidence. Simply having integrity makes them memorable.

You have to hit the ground running to beat Goliath.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, works with individuals and organizations to make them memorable, trusted and more profitable.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Word Man

Cult Classic

There’s a cult classic movie called “Eddie and the Cruisers.” It’s the story of a driven young rocker from the shore who pushed everyone he made music with to levels they had not dreamed they could reach.

It is a drama full of angst and attainment, joy, grief and, in the end, hope. While searching for the missing tapes of the band’s never-released album, a TV reporter newswoman makes the band think that Eddie may still be alive. Made in the 80’s, the story is about a legendary group from the 60’s

Major Cast

The Car A powder blue ’57 Chevrolet convertible.

Eddie Wilson is played by Michael Pare

“I want something great. I want something that nobody’s ever done before!”

Sal Amato is played by Matthew Laurance

We ain’t great. We’re just some guys from Jersey.”

Doc Robbins the slightly shifty manager is portrayed by Joe Pantiliano

“…never bull shit a bull shitter. You make the music, I’ll make the deals.”

Joann Carlino is embodied by Helen Schneider

“Eddie and I, we had a deal, we never talked about the future. We thought the present was so fine, why ruin it by planning ahead?”

Maggie Foley Our erstwhile TV reporter was brought to life by Ellen Barkin

“I am going to do a tribute to a group of guys who were ahead of their time.”

Word Man (Frank Ridgeway) was performed by Tom Berrenger

“You don’t understand. The night Eddie died, the Cruisers died with him.”

Words & Music

Early on Eddie is challenged about bringing Frank Ridgeway into the band. His answer is one I’ve never forgotten:

“He’s got somethin’ we need. Words and music, Doc. Words and music.”

 Either can strand alone. Either can be celebrated. But together they can be noble.

Brand is like that.

There are some that believe brand is all about the graphics of Brand Identity.

It isn’t.

Some will tell you the words are most important.

They are half right.

Words & Music.

Your brand is the sum total of all the perceptions customers, prospects, contacts and strangers have about it.

Your brand can be a journey.

Just like Eddie and the Cruisers you can build a dream. Start rockin’ it with your entreprenurial idea. Get the beat. Bring in the horns. Covers are okay but you need original stuff to really get noticed.

Get a word man. Mold a product or service marked by a singular approach that is memorable.

Get the entire organization in the groove. When everyone has the same mission the service you present to the world is consistent. It is the same in Toledo and Timbuktu. The customer gets the same service regardless of where they are.

Satisfaction leads to positive comments.

Your reputation grows.

The stages get bigger.

Trust builds.

You stay with your proven hits but slide new items into each set.

That marks the difference.

The Great ones

The great ones are always upping their game.

They pull in influences from other parts of the world.

They experiment and keep what works.

But those that become legendary do one thing others don’t.

The change the way those that follow them think.

Here’s the way Eddie put it:

“What I want is songs that echo. The stuff we’re doing now is like – somebody’s bed sheets. Spread ’em out. Soil ’em. Ship ’em out to laundry. You know? But, our songs, I want to be able to – fold ourselves up in ’em – forever. Do you understand? That’s the most you’ll ever get out of me, Wordman. Ever.”

Not bad words for a music guy.

And so it goes

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Pillow Talk

If you’re lucky.

Not everyone has a partner outside the business they can talk to candidly about how it is going. For the majority of consultants who are solopreneurs the only chance they have is when they are comfortably esconced in bed with that special person. If married the mate can be the sounding board. In a long term relationship you can share with the one you’re with.

Triumphs and tragedies

The need to share the triumphs and the tragedies can grab hold of you at any time. The desire to take someone else along on the journey can be overwhelming.  We don’t want to be alone.  Our egos are always looking for praise. That causes problems.

Hitches, glitches and snags

  1. The loner brain dump       This occurs when an expert consultant happens to be a solo in her/his practice, home life and social life.  The need to vent or share a victory builds up until without warning the brain dump begins. It can ruin a date or dinner with friends or a special occasion like a wedding. If the one unloading their latest client experience is lucky they will be considered merely offensive.
  2. The honey pot         If you are into spy fiction or reality this one is obvious. In order to perform industrial espionage a person of the consultant’s sexual partner preference is introduced. They practice their sexual wiles on the unwitting counselor becoming the willing listener to all the woes, trials tribulations and triumphs in order to get the secret to the client’s success. It ain’t pretty but it has been working for eons. The more solo the consultant the more effective this approach can be.
  3. The one for the road         Our ill-fated expert advisor puts a real hitch into his or her git-a-long by agreeing to just one more drink before heading off to a well-deserved rest. After that conviviality she or he “opens up” and the next thing you know a trademarked process is drawn and annotated on the closest napkin. It happens. And the worst part is our guide may not recall blurting out the methodology or special ingredient or whatever secret should have remained so.
  4. Another Client’s shoulder           This is possibly the worst. The need to share engages when our erstwhile expert is engaged with another client. It doesn’t matter whether the information being shared is positive, negative, secret or common knowledge. The problem is the effect on the client receiving the remarks. How would you feel about someone sharing private information with you? Would you be concerned about what you have provided the consultant in confidence?
  5. Ego boosting events         These can take on many guises. The common denominator is the combination of public attention and a bit of ego massage. For instance, the interviewer in a pod cast asks how you accomplished a turnaround for a client or what process was used to save multiple clients. You overlook confidentiality because it feels good. It feels good when a reporter seem intrigued by your answer so you add more details. A national outlet calls you to get confirmation for a story they are working on but you go further than a yes or no in your answer.  You see the public aspect as good advertising and your ego appreciates being preened so you stick around to get groomed a little more.

Forewarned is forearmed

Some of us are inherently close mouthed, have solid ethics and just cannot comprehend behaving in such a way. But not all of us. That’s why the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) has a 15 point code of ethics.

This discussion deals with item 5.0 which is:

I will treat appropriately all confidential client information that is not public knowledge, take reasonable steps to prevent it from access by unauthorized people, and will not take advantage of proprietary or privileged information, either for use by myself, the client’s firm, or another client, without the client’s permission.

Notice that it provides you with a way to be able to share the data with client permission.

Here are some ways you can make that wok to everyone’s advantage:

  • Joint presentation at an industry event.
  • Joint appearance on a panel at a conference
  • Joint interview by a media outlet
  • Publish a case history or success story approved by the client
  • Record a video testimonial from your client and put it on your website
  • Invite your client to lunch with a prospect and allow him/her to present the particulars of the engagement.
  • Make that client’s story an approved part of your next book

Losses count, too.

And don’t forget the losses. Many times those are just as important as the wins. When a client demands a process or procedure or approach you know won’t work based on your experience it is a significantly more powerful argument to try another way if you can cite an example that refutes the prospects preference.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Trust Factor

I’ve been asked to speak on Trust 4 times between now and the end of April.

I’ll be sharing information that has remained timeless along with research findings being updated now.

A Fortune Cookie

I speak on Trust because of a Fortune Cookie. After a successful morning presentation, the promoter and I decided to have lunch at a Chinese restaurant nearby. After the meal they brough us fortune cookies.

My fortune was: “The wise man knows everything, the shrewd one, everyone.”

Michael pushed his glasses down his nose. Looked over them and said, “That’s good as far as it goes.”

I’ve never forgotten his next words:

“What you know is important, who you know can make a difference…but the single most important thing in building a business is who trusts you.”

Who do you trust?

Like many business owners you immediately think of your professional advisors:

  • Accountant
  • Attorney
  • Bookkeeper

Like Michael said, “That’s good as far as it goes.” But like so many things it shows that we are oriented to who we trust rather than who trusts us. It’s natural. It’s human. But it is not the foundation of your business.

Who trusts you?

Over the years, I’ve found that there are four folks that must trust you in order for you to be successful. Here they are in order of importance in the New Normal.

  1. Yourself. Second guessing yourself all the time will get you nowhere. Listening to that little voice that whispers doubt in your ear will keep you from getting things done. Trust yourself to figure things out. Trust yourself to make a plan. Trust yourself to take action.
  2. Your Team. If you’re a manager that means both the management team you are a part of and your direct reports. Not a manager? It is the group of folks you work with all the time which may or may not be designated as a team. Your team includes all the folks that get credit when the job is done, the objective reached, or the product is delivered.
  3. Your Company.  Own it? Trust is essential. Just a hired hand? Trust improves outcomes. Trust lowers your stress and makes you more productive. (Stay tuned for hard numbers)
  4. Your Customer. No business can succeed without customer trust. That is true whether the business is a product, a service or a combination of the two. Customers will go the extra mile for you event to the point of not purchasing a competitive product to wait for yours with the same capabilities. 

In today’s world of social media positive comments can maintain a reputation over time. Customer trust can give a company momentum like never before. Public reviews can turn an unknown organization into a rising star overnight.

Business Trust Statistics

85% of Americans are likely to stick with a business during a brand crisis if it has a history of being transparent.

67% Agree, “A good reputation may get me to try a product, but unless I come to trust the company behind the product, I will stop buying it.”

64% of consumers globally are belief driven buyers. This means they are willing to buy or boycott a brand because of its position on social or political issues.

The bottom line.

I was fortunate enough to meet Tony Simons of Cornell University just as his book, The Integrity Dividend was being published. In it he describes how he conducted interviews with the staff at 76 different locations of a hotel chain. Tony had the staff rate managers on six different trust factors. He found that where managers were rated highest the increase in revenue was $250,000 a year. 

The oxytocin kicker.

Paul Zak, Neuroscientist, is the author of Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies. He identified these eight key management behaviors that stimulate Oxytocin production and generate Trust:

  1. Recognize Excellence
  2. Induce “challenge stress” to intensify focus and strengthen social connections
  3. Give people discretion in how they do their work. After they are trained, allow them to execute projects in their own way.
  4. Enable job crafting (choice of projects by the employee)
  5. Share information broadly (corporate goals, strategies and tactics)
  6. Intentionally build relationships (for everyone involved)
  7. Facilitate whole person growth
  8. Show vulnerability (asking for help is the sign of a secure leader)

High trust versus low trust

Here’s what Zak and his researchers found:

Work performance High=106% more energy 76% more engaged 50% more productive

Loyalty High= 50% more will stay a year, 88% more recommend as a place to work

Job Satisfaction High= 60% more enjoyed job, 70% more were aligned with the company purpose 40% less burnout reported

Overall, high trust companies have employees that are more productive and innovative.

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com

Consultant Marketing Magic Words

We’ve been meeting on Friday mornings for at least a couple years.

A Mastermind

I had attended a conference on gamifying products in the fall before Covid struck. On the last day Luthie asked, “Would you like to join a mastermind group to keep us all on track with what we’ve learned here?”

I accepted the invitation and about 10 of us started gathering. Now we’re down to 7. This morning only six of us showed up as one member is recovering from Covid.

Getting Through

Somehow we got on the subject of getting through to officials in companies in order to sell our products in the corporate market. One member noted that three times in the last three days she had been told: “E-mail doesn’t work.”

  • A friend told her that if she really wanted an answer to phone her.
  • Her son who is a music producer laughed and told her that the only way to get an answer was to text folks
  • A business associate said, “Just message ‘em on Linked In.”

It is not your choice

That’s when I jumped in. People do want to be communicated with. They just want it to be in the way they prefer. In general that is kind of a generational thing. Younger folks may not check their e-mail for days. They tend to be oriented to texting and are offended when you don’t drop everything to respond to their text messages.

I always tell clients to ask how their customers and clients want to be contacted and note that information in their file in the CRM (Contact Relationship Management software) and then use that information regularly.

Better odds

If you really want to be successful these days you need to understand what works and what doesn’t in general. Here are the options and what it takes to reach your objective:

  1. Phone is still the best direct contact vehicle for initial contact. Your chance of getting through is at the highest with this vehicle. Three things can happen:
  2. They will answer (You will need a script)
  3. Your call will go to Voice mail  (You will need a script)
  4. A gatekeeper will answer  (You will need a script)
  5. E-mail still works. You just have to know what form and frequency in order to connect. If you are like most you are enamored of the graphically based e-mail systems like Constant Contact and Mail Chimp.

Fact is that the higher the level of management you are trying to contact the more powerful an all-text message can be. Regardless of whether your e-mail is graphically enhanced or just text you may have to send it as many as 9 times to get it opened by a stranger. Scripting it is not a bad idea, especially for multiple messages.

  • Instant Messaging is a more recent option and has a strong following among millenials and FaceBook fans. Again, it does well among those that favor it but will result in minimal success if you are not sure of your target’s preferences.
  • Texting is okay if you have an established contact but it is illegal in the USA these days to text for commercial purposes.

I work with one board member that has six e-mail accounts and looks at them once a week in a good week. Text is his go to if you want to get his attention. Just like Phone and e-mail scripting it in advance is a good idea especially for repetitive touches of different prospects.

  • Linked In is a strong contender for cracking through to key prospects. You need proven scripts for each of these steps:
  • Be sure you have a connection.
  • If not, establish one noting common connections
  • Only after the connection is accepted send a message.
  • Do not sell in the initial message push for a telephone call
  • Sell only after a relationship is established

Never off the cuff.

The key to success in this business is thinking it through in advance. Start with what you are trying to accomplish. If what you are doing is repetitive this is especially important. Over the course of time we start to overlook our intent and we begin leaving out significant details that get us the business By looking at the alternatives and planning for them you don’t get thrown. By writing them down you have a reference for two purposes: honing the pitch based on real life trials and recall of what works should you have a break in doing the solicitation.

Magic words

There are magic words. They can brand you and they can begin to build trust. How you will present them will vary by the communication vehicle you are using. This video describes how 30-Second Marketing works for branding.

The words that build trust:

  • As Promised. Use this as an e-mail subject line. Use it as a way to infer approval from a referral source as in “As I promised, Name, I’m contacting you …” Use it in a text that includes data to connect with you which you agreed to send. Use it wherever you want to increase the trust the contact has in you.
  • Thank You Also a great subject line. It makes the receiver ask, “For what?” and that gets further attention on your message. Try saying it in a handwritten note sent snail mail. You will stand out because so few people do it these days.
  • How can I help? This question allows you to discuss the key problem your prospect may be having. It is particularly powerful when combined with: “If I can’t help I’ll refer you t someone who can.”

Success is all about getting to Trust. As one of my guides said:

“The wise man knows everything, The shrewd one everyone. But the single most important thing about building your business is who trusts you.”

And so it goes.

Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and CEO of Z-axis Marketing, Inc. See Jerry’s new speaker demo reel.

His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing advice that builds businesses, brands and lives of joy.

Consulting: https://www.JerryFletcher.com
Speaking:  https://www.NetworkingNinja.com