The most critical characteristic of effective lead generation for professional services, advice or software development

One of the biggest barriers that prevent otherwise motivated buyers from moving forward and engaging with the vendors of services, advice, or SaaS developers is a lack of trust.

And when I say “trust” that doesn’t necessarily include reliability or integrity.

The trust that I’m talking about is them having faith in your ability to deliver on the promise that’s inherent in your marketing message.

How do you demonstrate your capability of being able to deliver on your promise?

If you promise to install software and training to maximize the average transaction of every sale in a fast-food restaurant,  how does the franchise owner quantify and confirm your ability to make that happen?

And if you’re offering to design 300 cinema complexes for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia that are not only breathtakingly beautiful but also highly functional, how does the crown prince and his entourage sitting across the boardroom table know that you will deliver?

And if you’re promising to find undervalued tech companies for global corporate organizations to buy and leverage off, how does the board of that multinational know that you can find the right tech companies and negotiate a great deal?

All of the above scenarios are real-life situations that I’m intimately acquainted with because they represent three separate consulting clients who came to me with the challenge of increasing trust in their professional capabilities to prospects who were previously completely unknown to them.

And while the details of each situation vary considerably, the principles behind the effectiveness and swift establishment of trust remain consistent for every one of the many hundreds of clients that I’ve had the privilege of working with.

I go into a lot more detail in my forthcoming Inbound Marketing Book however, for the sake of this post. I’ll summarize a few thoughts more succinctly below.®

Principle #1: people have to get to know you before they trust you

This is always true, but it’s truer in some cultures than others. In New Zealand, for example, most people will assume the best about you until you provide evidence that they shouldn’t. In Germany, it’s the other way around. Most people will be looking for some evidence as to why they should trust you.

Please don’t now go and complained to your local human rights Commissioner it’s not me being racialist. I’m actually a New Zealander by birth, and I can tell you that it’s a very friendly and laid-back and accepting society relative to the others that I’ve lived in around the world. And many of my relatives by marriage a German and I trust them with my life, but it took a while for them to warm up to me.

But whichever culture your marketing to there is one constant which is that if people are going to trust you with any significant amount of money over any significant amount of time, the going to want to get to know you before they make an enquiry and most certainly before they decide to work with you.

To the question has to be asked: what’s the best way to allow people to get to know me and thereby give me the opportunity to establish trust prior to suggesting we have a conversation about working together.

And the best way to do that is to meet with them. You can meet with them face-to-face and you can meet with them one-on-one, or you can meet them in a group and online. Exactly how you meet with them and in what medium will depend a lot on the nature and price of your services.

If you’re marketing private jets, the new propagator wants to make that meeting face-to-face. If you marketing consultancy, training, or coaching services, then you’ll do better off running webinars from groups of prospects simultaneously. Webinars give you global reach without you having to leave your office, be that at home or at work. And you can reach out to the person in the building next door to you or you can reach out to someone on the other side of the world.

In my view, webinars combine maximum efficiency with serious effectiveness.

Principle #2: people want to see that you’ve got skin in the game with them

Once you’ve validated relationship trust by meeting with prospects and you run a webinar or you picture presentation, and you do that well enough to have people interested, the next level of trust you need to establish is whether or not you are prepared to put skin in the game with them.

If the vendor wants all their money upfront but says that the value deliveries you take 36 months, then there is little skin in the game for that vendor but a heck of a lot for the prospective client.

And often, that’s what it comes down to: how much does a person or organization have to pay you upfront and how fast I began to see the value?

For most of the thousands of professional service providers and advisers and SaaS developers that I’ve worked with, I recommend that they asked for no money upfront unless they are incurring high costs in-house when they get a new client started.

A simple case in point is my much-lauded “don’t trust me to guarantee”. While almost all of my clients will require a new client to put some money upfront to get started, I refused to take money from the clients who join my program until the 30-day point. I invite them to join my program, gain full access to all of my intellectual property and a invite them to meet with me up to 3 times per week in the small zoom group coaching call so I can help them with implementing my methodologies.

And I’ll answer their questions in our client communication centre for which we use slack. Every client has a dedicated messaging room where they can access me or my co-coach directly.

And this is a pretty good example of what I mean by establishing trust by telling the client that you’ve also got skin in the game.

So think about how you can structure your marketing so that you very quickly establish relationship trust as well as the sort of faith that comes from you demonstrating skin in the game.