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7 Steps to Me Trusting You

Step 1: Be sure I know who you are, who you represent and who you expect to benefit from the time I spend with you.

The first step has three important parts. First, I am more likely to trust you if I know who you are. It may seem not to matter but it always does. At a minimum, unless you are sure I already know, tell me your name. Add more information about who you are if you think it will help me to better know who you are or if I ask.

Second, tell me who you represent. It may seem obvious given the context, but don’t just assume. This is most important when you are representing more than yourself and your own interests.

Third, make it clear who you think will benefit if I spend this time with you. Do you think I will personally benefit? Do you think my company or business will benefit? Do you think some third party or organization will benefit? Do you think specific people will benefit or perhaps the community more generally? Who benefits?

Step 2: Give me a way to verify that you are who you say you are.

As we all know, this is the core problem with robocalls and door-to-door sales people and others who show up uninvited. We usually have no way of verifying that they are who they say they are or that they represent who they say they represent.

If you have legitimate credentials, show them to me, even if I don’t ask. If that is not an option, tell me how I can verify who you are and that you represent who you say you do.

The point is to give me a way to verify that you are legitimate.

Step 3: Be sure that I understand what you hope to get from the time you spend with me. What is the payoff for you or for whoever you represent?

This may be the real key to trust. I want to know if you are interested in anything or anyone beyond your own interests and profit. If I think you are in it for nothing beyond what you get out of the time I spend with you, I may still spend the time, but I will be cautious and certainly won’t trust you. I will take anything you say or suggest with a healthy grain of salt. Everything you say will have to pass through my BS filter. You are giving me ample reason not to trust you and no good reason to trust you.


Step 4: Be sure I understand what I get from the time I spend with you. What is the payoff for me?

This is the other side of the trust coin. What’s in it for me? Do I get a product, a solution to a problem I have, the opportunity to make a difference for others, an experience I will value, or some other benefit? Too often, people start here when they approach us. They make the pitch without doing their trust work first. They want us to do something or make decisions before we have any good reason to trust or believe them.

Assuming you have thoughtfully taken the steps to develop as much trust as you can, I need to know what the payoff is for me. Exactly what will you do, what can I expect? This is the value that I will consider trading for whatever you expect from me.

Step 5: Be sure I understand what your role is. What will you do and what actions will you take?

This is again a point where assuming is frequently a problem. You know what you will and won’t be doing and may simply assume that it’s obvious to me. Maybe it is but probably it isn’t. Make sure I know exactly what and how much I can expect you to do and what else will happen. It also adds to my trust when you take care to be sure that I understand and am comfortable with what will happen if I agree to do what you are asking me to do.

Step 6: Be sure I understand what you expect my role to be. What do you expect me to do and What actions do you expect me to take?

This is where it is easy to get the cart before the horse. Tell me what you will do first. I want to know in some detail since what you will do is the “why” in why I might decide to work with you or might do what you want me to do. I suspect we all can think of examples of when someone was quite clear about what would be expected of us while being somewhat vague about what would happen if we agreed to do business with them. If we are too confused or unsure, it’s likely that we will contact them to let them know that we have changed our mind, giving some convenient excuse or perhaps no reason. The point that is easily missed is that we just don’t trust them enough to proceed.

Step 7: Why do you think doing what you expect or taking the actions you expect are better for me than doing nothing or simply ignoring you?

This is the step that closes the trust loop. I know who you are and am comfortable that you really are who you say you are. I understand how you benefit and how I can benefit from the time we spend. I am clear about what you will do and what is expected of me. It’s now up to you to help me evaluate how I will be better off if I follow through with whatever we have been considering.

It’s not a sales pitch or what hustlers like to call the closer. Rather it’s your opportunity to share your perspective on how I will benefit from following through. It’s also your chance to let me know that you understand the value of what I am giving up in exchange for whatever we agree to. It’s your turn to summarize the value for value proposition and come to an agreement, if I choose to agree. You are always clear that it is my decision and only mine. I trust you to do what you say you will do and you trust me to make the decision that I believe is in my best interest.