Friday, February 6, 2015

Would You Ever Admit You Weren't the Best?

Avis did.

Avis ran a whole ad campaign for several years based on the fact that they were NOT the number one company in their industry.

We're number two. We try harder.

They stood naked to the world. We are not number one. That admission was enough to garner a whole lot of trust. Any company willing to admit something like that so boldly shows that they have nothing to hide.

The Currency they were spending was Reputation and Prestige. They put their reputation and prestige on the line, told everyone their warts, and used it to their advantage. End result? Their market share rose from 10% to 35%!!

Admitting your flaws or shortcomings may seem counter intuitive to getting people to trust you, but in reality, it can be one of your most powerful tools to earning that trust. They say honesty is the best policy, right?

Being honest about your flaws is simply the right thing to do. Admitting when you made a mistake wins the heart of the customer. They know you made a mistake. You know you made a mistake. Trying to cover it up or ignore it only builds distrust and resentment.

Everything and everybody and every business has flaws. No one and nothing is perfect. When you try to show that you are perfect to everyone, they see right through you. They know there is a downside. They will be looking for the downside whether you tell them or not. So go first. Tell them the downside to doing business with you before they start looking. Tell them the downside to the product you're trying to sell them. The upside of telling them the downside is that they are more willing to trust everything else you say.

  1. Admit your mistakes and shortcomings.
  2. Tell them the downside.

Building trust doesn't cost as much as you think. You just have to spend the right currencies.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Patagonia is another example Tom Wanek used in his book. They were a multi-million dollar company when the owner realized his company wasn't lined up with his own personal values of being environmentally conscious. He totally revamped the company and lost a lot of business in the process. But he gained a lot of trust, too. That trust is what led him back from the brink. His customer base basically said, "Anyone willing to take so much heat and so many financial losses to run his company in a way he could be proud is someone I can trust to do what he says he'll do."

PPS You don't need business examples to know this is true. The media and celebrity world give you all the examples you'll ever need. Admit the scandal and people forgive you. Deny the scandal and the storm never blows over.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

We Trust the Non-Sellers More

Late night infomercials have done more to harm the trust relationship between retailers and customers than almost anything else out there.

You've seen the shows where the person claims to be the expert on something, but you have a hard time believing them because they are also trying to sell you something. You doubt the veracity of their claims. You question their motive. No matter how much of an expert they prove to be, you just don't trust them.

Yet, one of the Currencies that buy Credibility is the Time & Energy you invest in educating your customer base and showing off your expertise.

So how do you invest your Time & Energy in a way that builds trust instead of breaking it down?


The key to educating your customer base in a way that builds trust is to remove any sales pitch from the process. The sales pitch is what undermines trust, so drop it.

In Tom Wanek's book, he mentions the REI website that is chock full of educational articles. Those articles are extremely useful and helpful to anyone thinking about camping and outdoor recreation. More importantly, they don't try to sell you on one brand or another. They give you suggestions about the types of products you need, but stop short of pushing any particular product.

They have shown the customer that they are willing to invest their time and energy to make sure you know everything you need to know - even if they don't get the sale! That's the sacrifice they will make to build trust.

We do similar types of classes here - purely informational. Whether it is about toys or baby products, I take the approach of teaching the customers everything they need to know to make smarter choices without telling them what to choose. Yes, they can take that information and go shop elsewhere with confidence. At the same time, because I am building trust, I am winning them over to shop with me. I am training them to look at toys or baby products the same way I look at those items.

I know my customers are going to go to other stores. I know my customers are going to go online. I also know that at the end of the day they are going to buy from the store they trust the most. By dropping the sales pitch, I win the sale.


Apple has a different approach. They invest their Time & Energy after the sale. They call it the Genius Bar. The Genius Bar tells customers...

"We understand our products have a learning curve. We so strongly believe you will enjoy our products that we will invest the Time and Energy to make sure you know how to use them properly."

The power of Apple's approach is that their willingness to help you out after the fact gives you trust and confidence in the purchase, and they reinforce the purchase decision by making sure you use the product to the best of its abilities, which creates loyalty.

You are an expert on your products and your industry. You can build trust by investing the Time & Energy to share that expertise with your customer base. Just drop the sales pitch. We trust the non-sellers more.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS The Internet has changed one thing about information - the expectation that information should be free. The gatekeepers of information are gone, replaced by a flood of information greater than anything Noah ever faced. With so much information out there, the information that is most trusted is the information that isn't trying to sell you anything. Make sure your company is the source of that information and you'll garner enough trust to not have to make a sales pitch at all.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

How Far Behind Your Products do you Stand?

Everyone claims they stand behind their products. The question is, how far back do you stand? Far enough to distance yourself when something goes wrong? Or right there to take care of even the most minor of problems?

One of the most powerful currencies you can spend to buy credibility and gain trust from your customers is to "put your money where your mouth is".

Yes, I'm talking about a guarantee. A money-back, no-questions-asked, we-really-do-stand-behind-our-products guarantee. Something like what Nordstrom's and LL Bean offer.

Here is what it says on the LL Bean website...

Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from L.L.Bean that is not completely satisfactory. (emphasis mine)

Here is what they are really saying...

We believe in our products so much that we will pay you back for anything that doesn't live up to our lofty standards, and more importantly, your lofty standards. We will gladly take a moentary hit on anything that you don't like just to make sure you are satisfied.

More importantly, here is what they are doing...

They are proving to you that your satisfaction is greater than their monetary gain. That builds trust.

We sold a board game to a customer recently who brought it back because they didn't like it. Yes, we took it back. Why? Because we knew she would turn around and buy something else. We steered her away from the games with a similar play as the one she didn't like and she ended up spending another $150 that night. She'll be back to spend more money on more games later. Why? Because she trusts us.

Did I lose money on the return? A little. I more than made it up with the rest of her sales. Plus I put the board game into our demo library for future game nights. Plus I learned about a board game that wasn't getting favorable reviews. Plus I can donate the game and take a write-off if I just want to get rid of it.

Most importantly, I showed through my actions that I believe so strongly in my products that I will stand behind every sale fully and completely. That sends a message of confidence and builds a level of trust that keeps customers coming back time and time again.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Yes there are some people who will try to take advantage of you. Yes, there are some exceptions to the rule. We had a customer who brought back 14 puzzles one year, all missing a piece. Of the one million puzzle pieces we sell each year, her 14 pieces were the only ones missing that year. I pulled her aside after #14 and politely told her that she was welcome to continue buying puzzles from us, but I couldn't take any more puzzles back from her. She still buys her puzzles from us. Partly, I think, because I handled it with politeness and kindness. Partly, I think, because she knew what she was doing. Partly, I think, because she trusts us