The Deciding Factor.

brainYour potential customers’ brains are constantly absorbing signals from both your company and your competitors and then using these signals as a basis to choose. Each market signal that your company sends moves their “preference for your company” needle up or down. One of your signals will be the Deciding Factor: the one that causes a Prospect to pick your company.

Which one?
Which of your many market signals will be the Deciding Factor? It could be a market signal of how your company presented quality, or its high satisfaction rating, or your website that gave them the confidence to choose you instead of a competitor. One of your signals will be the Deciding Factor, but it’s impossible to determine which signal will influence Prospects the most since they have different needs, past experiences and personalities. This means the Deciding Factor will often vary widely from person to person. Further complicating things, your customers can only tell you the Deciding Factor that they consciously saw as the most important. They certainly are not able to plumb their own subconscious, so you’ll never hear them actually say that their Deciding Factor was, for example, something as innocuous as the paint job of your office or vehicle. Instead, they’ll confidently say it was a neighbor’s referral or your price that was their Deciding Factor.

You don’t need to know in advance which signal will be the Deciding Factor.
You need all of your signals to be seen by every Prospect so each can latch on to a signal that influences them the most. Deciding Factors vary by individual, so it is to your great advantage to make sure all of your market signals shine through brightly and Prospects believe and see them all. To do this, you must greatly increase each Prospect’s trust in your company, trust in your staff, trust in your quality, trust in your expertise and trust in your company’s customer satisfaction performance. Then, in this high trust environment with all of your company’s signals shining through, individual Prospects will be able to subconsciously find and be most influenced by one of your signals—this becomes their Deciding Factor.

Are your company’s strongest factors shining through?
foggyTrust is the “glass”—the medium through which all of your market signals are viewed. When trust is low, your potential customers don’t believe your market signals. It’s as if they can’t see them clearly. Think of trust as impacting vision in the same way as your car’s windshield. When it has just been washed, you drive around and vividly see the leaves on the trees, the beauty of the clouds in the sky and the details of a newly painted house on the corner. When your trust windshield is really dirty or fogged up, you can’t see out of it, and even if you can, you have a dreary view of the world. Pretend you’re sitting in a parked car with dirty, fogged up windows. You’ll start to focus on inner thoughts. In a large sense, that’s what is happening when strong trust has not been established and maintained with your potential customers. They look inward and tap into their consumer fears of not getting what was promised, fears of low or bad quality, or fears of hidden surcharges—all of which are realistic fears when they can’t see signals that prove otherwise.

Increase trust to allow your company’s market signals to shine through.
cleanIf your company earns Diamond Certified, you’ll have access to the most powerful trust-building tools in your market, and you’ll optimize use of these tools to clean each potential customer’s “trust windshield” and focus her attention on your company’s ability to deliver high quality, customized to her needs, at a fair price. Your market signals will shine through because she has more confidence that the signals she’s receiving from your company about quality, fair price and trustworthiness are authentic.

Is Diamond Certified the Deciding Factor?
Sometimes it is. But more importantly, if you qualify, it will almost always enhance your potential customer’s trust windshield so she can see (and believe) all the good signals that your company is sending. Then, the needs, personality and background of the buyer will influence which of your signals becomes her Deciding Factor.

brochureHere’s an example where the Deciding Factor is a neighbor’s referral. Your potential customer, Vickie Jones, was referred to your company from her neighbor. In the discussions with Vickie about your company, to build trust, you naturally hand her your company’s Diamond Certified Brochure and take a minute to walk her through it.

symbol“It’s not just your neighbor, Mrs. Smith, who thinks that we did a great job. See, we recently earned Diamond Certified, which means we’ve been independently rated Highest in Quality and we’re backed by their Performance Guarantee. It’s something our whole team is very proud of because we focus on quality and customer satisfaction.”

Now that you’ve cleaned her trust windshield, all the signals that follow—price fairness, quality, competitive advantage—are better seen (and believed). Vickie may tell you that her Deciding Factor was her neighbor. That’s probably true, but your staff helped that become the Deciding Factor by properly using your Diamond Certified status to build trust early in the meeting so the positive impact of her neighbor’s referral and all your other signals would be seen and felt. Go to info.diamondcertified.org/trust-first to see six ways to build trust with Diamond Certified Tools.

Jim Stein, Founder and CEO

About Jim Stein, Founder and CEO

Jim Stein is the founder and CEO of American Ratings Corporation. Through his interactions with more than 6,000 local companies and analysis of over 1 million consumer survey responses, Jim has developed easy-to-understand strategies for consumers to enjoy consistently positive customer experiences and for companies to better satisfy customers, increase referral rates and reduce customer attrition.
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