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How could you earn ONE person’s trust today?

Think about the last 5 products or services that you bought.

Maybe you bought a bottle of fresh-pressed juice, a pass to a yoga class, a cute bag, a book that a friend recommended, a session with a marketing strategist, or maybe even something big, like a car.

In order to take out your cash or credit card, you had to feel a certain degree of trust.

Which means—if we’re looking at your last 5 purchases—somewhere along the way, each company earned your trust.

It might have happened in a split second. It may have taken months. But at some point, on a conscious (or unconscious) level, you decided, “I trust this [juice brand / yoga studio / bag manufacturer / author / strategist / car company]. I will give them some money. In return, they will give me some kind of awesome experience.”

So, where does “purchasing trust” come from?

The answer is kind of like a vague Facebook status: “It’s complicated.”

It’s complicated because it depends on lots of interlocking factors, not just one thing. It depends on what’s being sold (a tangible product like a t-shirt or an intangible product like a marketing consultation), where it’s being sold (online or face to face), and lots of other factors like wording, photos, color scheme, the overall experience of the website, and more.

And if you primarily sell “services,” things get even more complicated.

Here’s why:

If you are selling something “intangible” (like coaching, consulting, healing, education, a journey, an experience, pretty much any kind of “service”) then you are going to have to work even harder to earn people’s trust than if you are selling something “tangible” (like an oil painting, a muffin, or a teapot).

How come? It all comes down to certainty vs. uncertainty.

After all, when you order a teapot from a website, you know what’s going to happen: in a few days, the teapot will arrive on you doorstep. Hooray! Unless the teapot is broken or wildly different from the image on the website, there’s not much that could possibly go wrong. Your investment is pretty much guaranteed to be a good one. Your outcome is certain.

But when you sign up for, say, life coaching, you don’t always know what’s going to happen. You don’t always know if your investment will be a good one. Sure, you know you are going spend an hour talking with your new coach, but then what? Will she/he be able to help you or not? Will it be a waste of time? What if you don’t get along? Is coaching even what you need right now? What if your coach is fantastic but YOU suck at doing your homework afterwards? Ugggh. Who knows?! Your outcome is somewhat uncertain.

That’s why—if you run a primarily service-based business—you often have to work extra-super-hard to earn people’s trust and help them to feel pretty darn certain that hiring you is going to be a smart move.

To help you start building that trust and certainty… I have 3 trust-building tips for you. (These tips actually apply to all kinds of biz owners, but they are doubly-important for service providers. Here we go…)

Tip #1. Give people a chance to experience what your work is like—for free.

What’s it like to hire you? What’s it like to be in your presence? What’s it like to hear your voice? What’s your vibe? What’s your teaching style?

Nobody will know unless you let people experience “you” for themselves.

Give your peeps plenty of opportunity to experience what it’s like to work with you.

You can do this any way you want—free articles, free e-books, free videos, free podcasts, free classes, free speaking gigs for your community, free webinars, free consultations, or a free “ask me anything” phone call that you do once a month.

Choose whatever form of “free experience” you want, whatever feels good to you.  Charge NOTHING for these experiences.

Just like you can test-drive a new car before you buy it, you’re giving your clients a chance to test-drive your skills and personality, too.

Tip #2. Embrace people’s uncertainty. Give people plenty of space & time to make up their mind.

People are likely to feel uncertain and hesitant about hiring you, especially if they don’t know you very well. Instead of pretending that this isn’t happening, embrace it.

Explain that you get it. Explain that uncertainty is totally normal. Instead of being pushy, encourage your potential client to make a wise, well-educated purchasing decision—even if, ultimately, that means hiring someone else.

You can say something like:

“Hey, I’ve been in your shoes before—trying to make a considerable investment and wondering if I’m making the best possible choice. This isn’t the kind of choice that you want to rush into! So here’s what I’d recommend: Poke around my website. Read my blog. Check out my free videos. Read my client testimonials. After you’ve spent a bit more time exploring my body of work, if you’re feeling like we’re a great match, then let’s proceed! I’d love to work with you. But if—after checking out my work a bit more—you’re still not sure, then I’d advise you to listen to your gut on that. I can refer you to a couple of colleagues and hopefully you’ll find someone you click with. Sound good?”

Your client will be grateful that you’re not pushing them too far, too fast, and they’ll be impressed by your generosity and confidence.

It seems odd, but often saying, “Hey, you don’t have to hire me if it doesn’t feel right! Take your time. No rush.” can make people more eager to hire you than ever before.

Which is hotter and more enticing? The patient lover who says, “Baby, I’ll wait forever for you, we don’t have to do anything you’re not ready for…” or the pushy creep who says, “Are we gonna seal the deal tonight or what?” Exactly.

Tip #3. Do what you say you are going to do.

It’s the oldest advice in the book. If you do what you say you are going to do—consistently, like clockwork—you will earn people’s trust.

If say deliver your weekly newsletter, as promised, you will earn people’s trust.

If you run a summer scholarship contest, as promised, you will earn people’s trust.

If you say, “Next month I’ll be releasing a new podcast!” and then you do it, as promised, you will earn people’s trust.

If you say, “I am raising my rates” or “I am rolling out a new service package” or “I will follow up with you via email” or “I’ll send you the link I mentioned tomorrow,” and then you do it, as promised, you will earn people’s trust.

Piece by piece, every promise that you keep is like adding a dollar to your trust-bank.

Give it time, keep doing what you’ve promised, and eventually you’ll have a tribe of fans, readers, clients, and customers who will happily put their faith in you.

Nobody can predict exactly how long it’s going to take before you have dozens or hundreds or thousands of fans who love and adore you, but that’s not really worth worrying about.

Instead, ask yourself THIS question:

How could I earn ONE person’s trust today?

I bet you already know the answer to that question. Maybe you even know who that “one person” might be. Get on it. Reach out to them. Give them a valuable gift or make a promise and keep it. Earn their trust. Tomorrow? Choose someone else and… repeat.

Earn trust, one step, one real human being at a time.

I completely trust that you will.