Sharpen your Business Edge

March 17, 2011 -  By

There are three key reasons why people will NOT buy your services, according to small business marketing coach Ken Pedersen:

  1. They don’t want what you are selling.
  2. They can’t afford what you are selling.
  3. They do not believe or trust you.

“There can be variations and contributing factors, of course,” Pedersen says, “but it all comes down to one (or all three) of these points.”

And, trust, is clearly the most important of the three. Regardless of money or need, without trust, you won’t get the sale.

Typically, we trust people who are most like us. We reach a certain comfort level when we connect with like-minded individuals. There is new research that sheds some additional light on consumer trust.

According to Edelman’s 2011 Trust Barometer Report, it’s not as much “people like us” who consumers trust most; rather it’s people smarter than us.

The trustworthiest people, according to Edelman’s data, are:

  1. Academics or experts (70% of consumers trust them)
  2. Technical experts (64% of consumers trust them)
  3. CEOs (50% of consumers trust them)
  4. People like you (43% of consumers trust them)

Respondents to the survey were college-educated people ages 25 to 64 in the top 25% of household income relative to age group and who regularly follow business news. The irony, here, is that “people like them” are academic professors or field experts, so it makes sense that those are the opinions they would seek out and trust.

But it does prove another point in understanding your customers. Are your customers college-educated? Are they in the 25-to-64 age group? Where do they rank on household income? Do they follow business news and trends? Most of you are answering yes to a majority of these questions.

As the CEO of a company, you’ve gained 50% of your customers’ trust. But owners aren’t the only ones selling landscape work in the field. What expertise can your teams tout? And how can you reach that other 50%?

Let’s look at another industry or two and their consumer trust levels. For instance, did you know that 90% of doctors are medical board certified? The other 10% are not. Would you trust a doctor who doesn’t have one of those framed certificates on their wall with your health? Or think about your money. Would you trust anyone other than a certified public accountant with your business finances?

Getting back to the landscape industry, however, only 4,000 people are active Landscape Industry Certified, according to the Professional Landcare Network. That’s a minute percentage.

Though landscape professionals are not required to be certified in order to perform their work (in most cases), you can’t help but wonder if voluntarily earning reputable certifications would help their trust factor with customers.

Shayne Newman, owner of New Milford, CT-based YardApes, sees the value in pushing his employees to become Landscape Industry Certified. His program, Ape Achievements, rewards employees with raises as they pass various modules of Landscape Industry Certified exams. For each passed module, they get a 10-cents-per-hour pay raise.

In fact, research shows most Landscape Industry Certified technicians make more than their non-certified counterparts. PayScale’s March data shows Landscape Industry Certified technicians make $14.58 an hour vs. $10.23 an hour for landscape or groundskeeping workers who aren’t certified and $11.89 an hour for a landscaper who isn’t certified.

Increased pay and customer trust — Landscape Industry Certified is looking better every minute.

Edelman’s study also showed trust in American businesses today was down overall, mostly as a result of the economic recession.

As prices continue to be challenged and competition becomes fiercer, building customer trust will continue to grow as important in gaining and maintaining client relationships.

Explore Landscape Industry Certification: It could sharpen your business edge. Trust me.

LM Staff

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