Daily Dose of iQ: The Importance of Building Trust to Convert Sales

Dec 20, 2011 — Brayden Gervan

Martin Lindstrom, author of Brandwashed and Buyology, wrote a column for Fast Company yesterday about the role that trust plays in the sales process.

Lindstrom describes an experiment he conducted for Brandwashed: A carefully selected Californian family was tasked with adopting an "environmentally conscious behavior."

"To assist them in this endeavor, we brought in experts to advise the family on changing their patterns of consumption," he writes. "They taught them how to recycle and conserve. We wanted to see if it was possible to effect change amongst hundreds of families' daily routine by introducing new behaviors at the highest levels of trust -- from the experts down. In other words, could a single family's environmentally conscious behavior set the standard for their social circle and thus create widespread change?"

The experiment worked: Nearly 31% of the thousands of people affected by the experimental family changed their recycling and conservation habits.

What were the keys to this family's success?

  • The key to success was that the family actively participating in this conservation practice. The family wasn’t just talking about conservation; they were living it. This gave them legitimacy and increased people's level of trust in them.
  • They were successful because they were properly trained by conservation experts -- they knew what they were talking about and doing.
  • This expertise was then shared with the people they knew and the behavior change spread that way.

The idea of building trust relates to word-of-mouth marketing and the ability of social media to quickly spread trust and influence across large groups of people.

One thing for me is golf balls. A friend of mine is a fairly good golfer and is an huge advocate for Titleist Pro V1 golf balls. He is a better golfer than I am and is convinced these golf balls improve his performance. We golf together often and -- similar to the family in the article -- I see his behavior in action and have become convinced these golf balls help.

He's a close friend of mine and I value his opinion because we have spent a lot of time golfing and hanging out together. Secondly, because he is a better golfer than I am, I consider him more of an "expert" and trust him to know what he's talking about.

How can wireless retailers train staff to build trust with walk-in customers to their stores?

  • Based on the article, retailers need to create product experts, or at least the perception of product experts among store staff.
  • Staff can be trained to build that relationship through how they are bringing up products with customers. For me, friendliness is the key. As the article suggests, we have an inherent or subconscious trust, reserved mostly for our friends and family. Staff need to be trained to bridge the gap between salesperson and friend.

What aspects of the phone-buying experience can salespeople focus on to build trust?

  • According to Lindstrom, staff need to be trained to use trust triggers:
    "One of the most fascinating things that emerged from the Brandwashed experiment was the importance of how the message was transmitted -- the words used, the tone of voice adopted, the inflection and enthusiasm conveyed. When these behavioral components come together in the right measure, sales are likely to soar."
  • I think trust is built initially in the phone-buying experience. To build that “expert knowledge" with customers, staff must answer questions related to features and functionality.

How does XQ Interactive Retail fit into this trust-building strategy?

  • XQ assists in building knowledgeable staff and consumers that can then become advocates for certain products and spread this knowledge.
  • XQ builds trust through sight. For a lot of people, seeing is believing. In the article, the experimental family not only engaged in conservation, they also demonstrated the desired eco-friendly behaviors. With XQ, customers are able to see the product information, discuss any questions they may have with an expert and then trust that the information is true based on the source.

Topics: Retail Operations, Mobile Industry, Customer Experience, Retail Marketing

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