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Four Components of Establishing Credibility

By Tim Deuitch

In this video, Tim Deuitch and Susan Hall share and discuss the four components of establishing credibility with a client: Propriety, Competence, Commonality and Intent.

Tim Deuitch: 00:01 Susan, one of the things I've found when I work with my customers is that when their salespeople are first meeting a prospect, they jump over the all important activity of establishing their credibility in the eyes of the customer with a prospect. Not just their own personal credibility, but certainly, the credibility of the company, is at stake so it is important that we take time to talk about the four basic components of establishing credibility.

Susan Hall: 00:43 I think that's critical because credibility is a key driver for building trust. The whole idea is if you can build trusting relationships with your client, you can earn the right to ask those tough discovery questions. You can earn the right to eventually do business with them, but it all starts with building trust and credibility.

Tim Deuitch: 01:04 It's true. We know these components and we can't imagine not doing it, but it's interesting when we see that it's not happening. So, what's the first step?

Susan Hall: 01:12 The first one is probably the easiest, that's kind of the ticket to entry, and that's Propriety. Propriety is really business etiquette. It's showing up to a meeting on time. It's being prepared, having an agenda. Looking the part, you wouldn't show up at a construction site in high heeled shoes. You wouldn't show up, I wouldn't either, for that matter. But also, you wouldn't go to a business meeting downtown in boots and jeans, and a hard hat. So, that's the easiest piece of credibility is Propriety.

Tim Deuitch: 01:48 It really is that they have a basic level of comfort with you. The second level is Competence. This is one that often salespeople say should be the lead. It's important. It's critical. What Competence is, is you conveying the capabilities of your company. Literally, what you do and also, what you personally do, and what is your role in delivering on that Competence? These things are really important. They want to know, do you know what you're talking about?

Susan Hall: 02:23 Exactly, and as part of that, being able to introduce yourself professionally to the client – who you are, what your role is, the value that you bring. That's all part of demonstrating Competence, as well as any information that the client may want to know about your business.

Tim Deuitch: 02:37 Absolutely.

Susan Hall: 02:38 The third one, Tim, is Commonality. This one's interesting because most salespeople would say that that's not as important as Competence, but it really is. The reason is that customers expect us to be competent, but Commonality is just that little extra something that differentiates you. So, assuming all is competent, it's what do you have in common with that customer? Have you done business before with them in their industry, that you might be able to leverage? Do you know some of the same people? It could be commonality on a personal level, but it should certainly also be on a professional level that you might be able to leverage.

Tim Deuitch: 03:20 In the most basic level of sales we think Commonality is like, "Oh," you find out you both like French poodles.

Susan Hall: 03:27 Right.

Tim Deuitch: 03:27 No, this is about fundamental commonality. We are on the same page when it comes to the challenges of a workplace like "mine" or the interpersonal challenges, if that's what we're talking about. You bring something to the table, you are very familiar with it. "You understand what we're going through."

Susan Hall: 03:46 Right.

Tim Deuitch: 03:46 The fourth and sometimes considered sort of the granddaddy of all when it comes to establishing credibility, is Intent. We can have those other three – Propriety, Competence, and Commonality all in place, but if they don't trust our Intent, then we're not as strong.

Susan Hall: 04:04 You can read that a mile away.

Tim Deuitch: 04:06 You can.

Susan Hall: 04:07 So, what are you leading with? Are you leading with, "Do you want to help me?" or "Do you want to sell something?"

Tim Deuitch: 04:13 Exactly, and so, the important thing about Intent is that it has to be expressed. You have to express that intent and you have to ask that person across from you, "Does this intent work for you?" For the intent of the meeting, this moment here, "This is what I intend to do in this moment, for this here," and potentially as your conversation moves forward, "What's the intent for how we would work together? What is important to me about bringing value to you?" Declaring that intent out loud is absolutely critical.

Susan Hall: 04:48 Definitely. It's a bit of a dilemma for salespeople because, certainly your salespeople are paid to sell. If you lead with the intent of wanting to help and wanting to understand, all salespeople will find that they are beyond successful in terms of sales, because they attract the kind of client that wants to do business with them.

Tim Deuitch: 05:17 No question. So, there it is. Credibility is made up of Propriety, Competence, Commonality, and Intent. All four should be in play before you even begin to move forward, but imagine if you get them all together and that customer or that prospect looks back at you and says, "Okay, can I tell you more about our challenge?" That's the sweet spot, that's credibility at work.

Published: November 27, 2019

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Tim Deuitch

Vice President - Client Success

Tim brings over 25 years of experience working closely with business leaders throughout the Twin Cities and the USA. He has worked within a multitude of workplace cultures and economic cycles, helping leaders and teams improve their effectiveness and results. Since joining SEG in 2007, Tim has continued his work as a change agent, helping organizations meet their goals. Tim graduated from Warren Wilson College in 1983 with a B.S. degree in social work.

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