New prospects are a skeptical group. The unfortunate reality is that when someone doesn’t know you, they tend to look for reasons to dismiss you rather than looking at your value proposition with an open mind.
So how do we go about building credibility with prospective clients? Naturally the easiest method is to avoid cold marketing altogether. Being referred by someone who knows you has a huge benefit in reducing the inherent mistrust we often have when we meet brand new people. However, strictly relying on referrals is one of the main reasons why so many small business owners experience the proverbial feast-or-famine business cycles.
It’s easy to understand why. When we rely on referrals we are giving up control of our new business efforts. We are hoping that our network will be sufficiently large enough so that a certain minimum number of referrals will be generated each month. The sad reality is that hardly anyone’s existing network is large enough to accomplish that goal.
The primary reason for this is because most small business owners use highly labor intensive methods for meeting new people. While networking events, lunches and dinners certainly have their place, when one gets busy with work, these activities typically start to fall onto the back-burner. Over time the number of new people in one’s circle of relationships begins to shrink rather than expand. During tough economic times, it is easy to “lap the track” of this finite group and suddenly realize to one’s horror that referrals have dried up.
Many small business owners view the process of getting brand new clients with a mixture of apprehension and fear. They are concerned that they will come across as the stereotypical used car salesman, and the idea of cold-calling someone fills them with dread. Fortunately by using one page websites that clearly communicate the benefits that you offer a specific targeted group of prospects, and offers compelling free information, it is a relatively straight forward proposition to attract brand new prospects.
But still the question remains, “How do I build trust and credibility with these people?” After all, it’s easy for me to say “I’m great”. Unfortunately that doesn’t do much to reduce the skepticism level. The most powerful method you can use to build credibility is to offer proof. Proof that you can do what you claim. Proof that others have achieved the desired results you offer.
What’s the best way to provide proof? As you may have guessed, it’s by using testimonials. If your website and other marketing materials don’t have numerous testimonials appearing on them, you’re missing a huge opportunity to build credibility.
But, not all testimonials are equal and it’s important to keep in mind that your reader is still skeptical. A testimonial that says “You’re great” pales in comparison to one that says “By using your system I increased the number of brand new clients I got by 45%” Thus when you request testimonials make sure that you ask: “What was the biggest benefit that you achieved by using my products or services?” The more you get quantifiable answers, the more it will increase your credibility.
Not surprisingly, many prospects think that you’re just making up your testimonials (which you should never do). Here are a couple of ideas for reducing that inclination. First, include the website of the person giving the testimonial. This adds a layer of credibility and underscores that this is in fact a real person. Secondly, consider using video testimonials. Since over 50% of web content is now video, using video not only provides strong proof, but also positions you as a leading edge provider of your particular service. If you keep these thoughts in mind you will easily reduce the skepticism that new prospects have about doing business with you.