June 25

Credibility: The Missing Piece in Persuasion

Most people believe buyers choose sellers based on knowing, liking, and trusting someone. But that’s only part of the story. In reality, people do business with those they know, like, trust, and find credible. Credibility is the often-overlooked linchpin in sales success. Especially in today’s digital-first world, where your digital persona forms the first impression, credibility becomes crucial. This is particularly true for industries where you can’t touch or test the service before purchase, like professional services, advertising agencies, and PR firms.

This post delves into how trust and credibility are built, how they differ, and why both are essential for effective persuasion.

The Digital Persona: Your First Impression

In the digital age, your first impression often isn’t formed during a handshake or a face-to-face meeting; it’s shaped by your digital persona. This includes how you present yourself on social media, the content you share and publish, and the content others publish about you. A well-crafted LinkedIn profile, insightful blog posts, and authoritative quotes in industry articles contribute to this digital persona. It’s no longer enough to be known; you must be known for the right reasons.

When someone encounters your digital persona, they quickly assess whether they like or trust you and whether you are credible. Are you knowledgeable? Do you offer valuable insights? Can you support your claims with evidence? Your digital footprint should serve as a testament to your expertise and reliability. It’s your ultimate referral partner.

Understanding Trust

Trust is choosing to make something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions. It’s the foundation upon which all successful business relationships are built, a prerequisite for any meaningful exchange. But how is trust established, especially in a professional context where stakes are high and skepticism often looms large?

Building trust is akin to constructing a bridge. It requires time, patience, and consistent effort. Each positive interaction, each promise kept, and each expectation met adds a plank to this bridge. Over time, these elements coalesce into a sturdy structure capable of supporting the weight of more significant decisions and investments.

Research underscores the pivotal role of trust in business. A Harvard Review study found that when trust was present in a business relationship, it significantly increased the likelihood of engagement and transaction. Trust facilitates the initial decision to engage and fosters loyalty and long-term commitment.

But trust goes beyond the rational; it’s deeply rooted in the emotional. It’s nurtured not only through what we say or do but also through how we make others feel. Transparency, empathy, consistency, and integrity are the cornerstones of trust. These qualities, when demonstrated repeatedly, reassure others of our intentions, capabilities, and commitment to their best interests.

The Critical Role of Credibility in Sales Success

Credibility, however, takes these relationships to the next level. It’s the quality that turns a friendly acquaintance into a trusted advisor. While trust is about believing you will do the right thing, credibility is about believing you know the right thing to do.

Creating credibility begins with showcasing your expertise and accomplishments. This can be achieved through various channels: publishing insightful articles, sharing success stories, obtaining certifications, guesting on podcasts, being quoted in reputable media outlets, and speaking at industry events. Each serves as evidence of your knowledge and skills, contributing to a profile others respect and trust for information and guidance.

Consider the agency that offers marketing advice, writes detailed market analysis articles addressing key client sales and marketing issues, and is frequently quoted in marketing news publications. This agency isn’t just trusted; it is seen as a credible authority in its field. Clients don’t just like or trust it—they believe in its expertise.

This agency more easily ascends from simple Top-of-Mind-Awareness to the far more important Top-of-Mind-Preference. When a prospective client begins the search for a new agency partner, the credible agency isn’t just invited but enters the competition as the lead horse. It’s their pitch to lose.

Even in the world of referrals, credibility is key. When you’ve built a repository of public credibility, you make it easier for friends, family and clients (current and former) to recommend you to their network. Your reputation precedes you, resulting in more referrals converting to meetings and ultimately clients.

Enhancing Your Digital Credibility

In a world where your digital presence often precedes personal interaction, enhancing your credibility online is crucial. Here are practical steps to bolster your digital persona:

Showcase Your Expertise: Regularly publish articles, whitepapers, and blog posts that highlight your knowledge. Share insights that solve real problems and offer value. If you don’t have time for longer form content, create thoughtful social media posts.

Engage Authentically on Social Media: Participate in industry discussions, share your thoughts on current trends, and engage with others’ content. But don’t just agree or compliment others’ content, extend or expand on their ideas to demonstrate your unique point-of-view and insights.

Leverage Testimonials and Case Studies: Share success stories and client testimonials that speak to your ability to deliver results. These serve as social proof of your credibility. Just do everyone a favor and only use authentic case studies vs. those where you’ve simply tortured the data until it told you what you wanted to hear 😉.

Stay Current: Continuously update your knowledge and skills. Attend webinars, take courses, subscribe to relevant newsletters, and share what you’ve learned. Don’t just copy and paste the information, instead, share it with your own contextual insights. Again, this helps establish you as a credible resource.

Be Transparent: Admit when you don’t know something and be open about your learning process. Transparency not only builds trust but also showcases your authenticity and dedication to providing accurate information.

Without Credibility, Likability and Trust Won’t Close the Deal

While being known, liked, and trusted remains important, it’s not enough in today’s competitive, digital-first business environment. Credibility is the critical, often overlooked piece that completes the puzzle of persuasion. It’s what turns connections into commitments and engagements into long-term relationships.

As you navigate your professional journey, focus on building and showcasing your credibility. Cultivate a digital persona that not only invites people to know, like, and trust you but also convinces them of your expertise and reliability. In doing so, you’ll not only enhance your persuasive power but also drive sustainable success in your field.

Remember, in the end, people do business with those they know, like, trust, and find credible. Make sure your digital footprint reflects all these qualities, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a trusted and credible authority in your industry.


This post was originally published on Painless Prospecting, the weekly sales and marketing blog created by the fine folks at Converse Digital. If you want to learn how to create, engage in, and convert conversations into new clients and customers, give them a call


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B2b Sales, Sales, social selling


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