Would you trust a financial advisor who is not a millionaire? Would you ask for advice from a consulting firm that is archaic in how they work? Or purchase from someone who does not use what they sell?
In an era where everyone is well-informed, prequalified, and often buys precisely what they want after doing research at home, the way we work with customers and other businesses has changed. In all of my business ventures and projects, I pride myself on being consistent and promoting products and services I would buy or use myself — at full retail price. It is a prerequisite to creating trust and a long-standing relationship with customers.
You should eat your own food
Has someone ever given you advice but, when you find out more about the situation and the person, the situation seems phony? For instance:
- When you go to a car dealership, why do the salespeople drive cars from other brands? If they ask me to spend my hard-earned money on a car at full price, but they aren’t willing to (despite getting a discount), why should I?
- Have you ever gone to a fancy steakhouse and asked the waiter which steak is best, and they admitted to being vegan for 10 years but then suggested the most expensive cut of meat? Do you really believe the hype?
- Have you ever signed up to exercise with an overweight trainer? Or hired a growth consultant who was never able to actually grow a company?
You get the point.
So, if you aren’t willing to spend your personal time and resources with phony service professionals, why do you trust businesses that say:
- Web firm: “Our website isn’t nice because we have been so busy with our customers.”
- Online marketing firm: “It’s hard to find our website because we don’t have a blog. But we suggest you have one and post every week on topics A, B, and C.”
- Management consultant: “You should invest in a platform to manage your processes,” yet they don’t and have no plans to invest in technology to support their ability to scale.
You may be having an “aha” moment right now — good.
Who should you trust?
I suggest putting your trust in someone who has been in the trenches, knows what you are going through, thrived in it, survived it, and lived to share the story and lessons learned. After all, how can you know the pitfalls or checkpoints if you have never done it before?
I am a process person. I would invest one minute today to save 10 minutes in the future. I expect the team to start from a template or a past version, rather than from scratch because I know the effort that went into the template is only gained by using it.
It’s not about ‘selling’ anymore.
In one of my businesses, we do not “sell.” We are consultants who simply use our knowledge to provide the best advice possible, and the sale is made on its own. In 2018, the team was reflecting the scalability of our internal IT infrastructure, as we were experiencing rapid growth, similar to many of the customers we helped.
We decided to take the time over Christmas to evolve our internal systems. We went from having one core enterprise resource planning (ERP) system — that had become overly customized throughout the years — to full-enterprise architecture in the span of two months. We forced our team to live in the discomfort of a rapid change and used it as an opportunity to experience what our customers were going through and a chance to clean up our processes and better define roles and responsibilities.
As the CEO, I could have decided we would be “better off” spending the time billing for more work or saving the money invested, but I realized I was responsible to my team to provide tools that would improve their lives by fixing and streamlining annoying or cumbersome processes. How could we sell the vision of “technology is an asset” if we did not live that reality internally?
By investing in our internal technology, our team benefited not only from a better work experience but also the ability to have more exposure to new products that could be used for our customers. What was once an internal project became the best sales pitch. Best of all, we were able to confidently talk to our customers about the real value these systems could bring to them internally. We knew because we had trained, learned, deployed, and used the software we were suggesting.
Today, our endorsement means something more than advice. It means we have been there, bought the T-shirt, learned something along the way, and are willing to share that knowledge to help others. Now, we not only have shoes, but we also have limited-edition designer shoes and are happy to show them off (we even show our internal IT architecture in our sales pitch).
If you are going to put your trust in someone, take the time to ensure they are a credible expert. In other words, don’t just settle for someone who has taught, but rather someone who has invested “sweatquity” (i.e., the hard work) into what they are preaching. So the next time I see my doctor, I am going to ask him about his cholesterol levels before he can complain about mine.
Read the Forbes article here