Building Credibility for Your Business

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Small companies that rely on business-to-business sales often find it difficult to be seen as credible in the eyes of larger companies. If this is true for you, then this assessment might help you determine where you need to focus your attention in order to build your credibility. Rate each item from 1 to 5. 1 = low/bad. 3 = not good, not bad, just OK. 5 = high/great.

1. Your History. What's the word on the street about your company? Do you have a reputation of doing good work or one of shoddy quality and service? Are there any scandals that might affect the word on the street? ____

2. The Reputation Of Your Type Of Business. If you work in accounting, your reputation may be tainted by recent scandals even though your own work may meet the highest ethical standards. What's the word on the street about your industry? ____

3. Knowledge Of Your Type Of Product Or Service. Do your potential customers understand why your product or service is critically important to their business? ____

4. Your Relationship With Existing Customers. Do you have a solid working relationship with your customers? Do they trust you? Do they believe that you have their best interests at heart? ____

5. Your Relationship With Potential Customers. Do they know and trust you? ____

6. The World Through Their Eyes. Put yourself in the shoes of an ideal potential customer. What would be the concerns about doing business with you? List everything you can think of.

Scoring: A score of 1 or 2 on any item could point to a significant reason why it may be difficult to get sales. A score of 3 is simply mediocre, but at least you aren't trying to dig yourself out of a hole. Your target should be 4 or 5 on all questions.

You'll note that only two of the questions (1,3) focus on your product or service. That's important. Many businesses put all their effort in trying to sell their product or service. They create elaborate gee-whiz presentations but often fail to make the sale.

Your relationship with your customer and potential customer (2,4,5) is as important ? if not more important ? than the idea you are promoting. For example, if the reputation of your industry is questionable, then you need to be in front of people so that they can see that you are different. And this probably will not occur during a sales presentation. It will only occur by finding opportunities to prove you are worthy of their trust.

Question 6 may be difficult to answer, but those responses tell you the reasons why they don't buy from you. Once again, building a relationship is essential. They've got to get to know you. You've got to get to know them ? their hopes and fears and pressing challenges. Without this information you are left with just the bells and whistles of what you sell,and that won't be enough to make sales consistently.

Rick is an advisor to organizations on ways to lead Change without Migraines?. He is author of many books on change including Why Don't You Want What I Want? and Beyond the Wall of Resistance. You can access free articles and tools at

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