Image by Peter Benoit from Pixabay

Who doesn’t love an honest salesperson?

My uncle was a car salesman in a small town in Northern Saskatchewan. That’s in Canada. He started in his early twenties, (about 1940) and did it until retiring in the 1980s.  The town was small, but he sold Chevys across a large region. 

He lived and played with the people who were his customers.

He wouldn’t risk misleading a customer. And, he couldn’t since he was a painfully honest man.  

He had a loyal following for over 40 years.   

As I was growing up salespeople were going door-to-door selling pots and pans, or vacuums.

To me, door-to-door salesmen were brave. They knocked on your door risking immediate rejection. There was nowhere for them to hide. It

It’s the human touch. You met the person. You could examine the products. And, once you opened the door, he had a sales pitch using all levels of persuasion.

Whether you bought depended on two things.  Did you want the merchandise? And, did you like and trust the salesman?

Now, the human touch is fading. The online world continues to explode overwhelming consumers with information.

Your consumer is blasted with advertising and marketing strategies every waking minute  

In fact, HubSpot has collected the data:

  • by the end of 2019 more than 290 billion emails will be sent
  • 97% of marketers are using social media
  • 49% of companies have automated email processes
  • 91% of consumers like hearing from companies they do business with by email

What’s missing? The human interaction, the ability to size up the salesperson’s honesty by meeting them face-to-face.

And, one thing remains. The consumer’s desire to trust. The desire for honesty.

Rather than shutting the front door on a salesperson, consumers are just hitting delete.

How to touch your consumers in the online marketplace

It begins with your marketing strategy.  It targets your ideal consumer.  You know what your consumers need because you’ve done the research.

Your promotional materials need to be persuasive. The consumer needs to follow your pitch through your online marketing.

But when you also make honesty a priority in your pitch …. you’ll have promotional material consumers will want to trust.  

Persuasion – how it works

Persuasion is an art and a science.

It’s a dynamic mix of word choice, word patterns, imagery, and storytelling.

It’s also knowing how the brain works. It’s the science behind the neurology of ‘like liking like.’ It’s the mirroring of neurons. It’s working on limiting believes and habits.

If you’re familiar with Robert Cialdini and his work on persuasion, then you’re familiar with his 6 principles:

  1. Reciprocity – do something for someone else, and they may feel they need to do something for you in return
  2. Scarcity: the trigger button is ‘greed’. The less available something is, the more people may want it
  3. Authority: people want to be reassured they are safe, so highlighting your expertise can let people believe you, and then allow themselves to be persuaded
  4. Consistency: people enjoy being consistent in their actions and one action builds upon another in a reliable process
  5. Liking: it’s easier to like something/someone where similarities exist, when people are complimented and received positive feedback, and when there are shared goals
  6. Consensus: when uncertain, people will watch what others think or do and then act

Then, combine the principles with these 3E’s

  • Used ethically, the principles set a stage for building persuasive rapport with others. Be honest about the benefits your service provides for the consumer.
  • Used elegantly, these principles build an ongoing relationship between you and the consumer. Avoid treating your consumer like a fool. Respect their intelligence and avoid shaming or blaming them.
  • Used emotionally, these principles can address the consumer’s needs and desires. Speak to the consumers heart – dreams, principles, values – and then introduce the logic of your marketing points.

Persuasion when used properly, is helpful for the consumer. It offers them reliable information to use to make decisions.

Honesty – the true value from you to your consumer

The internet is an international marketplace. It’s going through growing pains. Too much fake news, the influence of the Dark Net, and threats to cybersecurity concern consumers.

People are wary. Scams abound. 

People hesitate before giving information to any website or email.

The way to build trust is to show them

How can you do that online? Here’s two simple strategies: Be transparent and accountable

1. If you commit to doing something – i.e. replying to an email within a timeframe, or if you promise access to a  24/7 helpline – be sure you do it.

Accountability goes a long way to showing you’re honest.  

Or as my uncle used to say: don’t make promises you can’t keep.

2. Be consistent across your social media and in your interactions with consumers.

Consumers can and will check you out social media. And while this may feel like an overstep into your privacy, it’s good to be aware of it.

We’ve all seen the news when old social media posts come back to haunt someone. It’s good to be mindful of what you post and share.

And, when a consumer wants to know more about your business, they can look at rating sites.

It’s helpful to stay on top of reviews about your business. Why not plan time to respond  –  to both the good ones, and the not-so-good. 

This one habit can show consumers your accountability while showing your interest in them.

How important is honesty?

BonfireMarketing refers to a 2014 study of 12 global enterprises. The study shows:

  • 91% of consumers rated authenticity to be highest valued trait in a company,
  • followed by the product’s utility at 61% and
  • brand popularity at only 39%.

Consumers don’t want honesty.  They crave honesty.

If they can’t kick the car tires in the sales lot, they need to ‘feel’ reliability and honesty oozing from you.  

This is also part of the Cialdini principles.

Your marketing materials show you can reciprocate to your consumer. You can do this easily by offering them free reports or eBooks for their time and interest.

Your marketing materials show you as an authority – as someone your consumer wants to do business with.

And you’re consistent in your actions which gives the consumer the feeling of safety.

The bottom line

When marketing strategies are blending persuasion and honesty, your ideal followers come to you.  

They becomes loyal consumers.

What happens then?  

You end up with testimonials, referrals and case studies.

Consumer success stories, or how a problem was effectively handled are the human touches we used to have. Your consumers begin talking about you.

They start persuading others about you.

This brings you the most satisfying result of marketing. Consumer satisfaction and happiness. It’s a great feeling.

That’s what my uncle loved the best about selling cars – the joy of a good sale and a happy (and repeating) customer.