By Daryl Wurzbacher, CEO, ByDesign Technologies
When I speak with Direct Selling companies about what it takes to build a successful business, there are always the nuts and bolts – product, people, and execution – but what truly differentiates? Our most successful clients would tell you that the ability to establish and maintain trust with their field and customers is by far the biggest driver of success.
Why is that?
Trust is ultimately the culmination of your companies’ actions, and if your representatives don’t trust you or their upline, they will leave. Our industry is built upon a “volunteer army” that puts their credibility on the line every time they share or recommend a product or service. Trust is the core tenant that enables a rep to confidently offer your products and business opportunity as the solution to someone’s problem.
From a consumer perspective, creating brand trust is the most critical aspect of your brand strategy and is the most challenging as trust isn’t something you can buy; it has to be earned. Customers must believe in your company before they will reward you with their loyalty. Brand loyalty is the foundation that can grow into advocacy, enabling confidence in sharing your products to their networks.
Corporate sets the tone
Trust in organizations is based on the perception of two key factors: competence and ethics. According to the 2021 Edelman trust barometer, our culture is experiencing “an epidemic of misinformation and widespread mistrust of societal institutions and leaders around the world.” The falling trust in broader institutions makes it even more critical for companies to take charge and build trust themselves.
How do successful companies build trust? The most trusted companies embody three distinct traits: transparency, resilience, and kindness.
Transparency is the foundation for creating and maintaining strong relationships. Increasing transparency by being open and honest is a crucial step in building greater trust. With the uncertainty that has come with the pandemic and its lingering aftermath, transparency about what is going on in your business is more important than ever before. Being honest and sharing the reality that you don’t know in some situations creates a greater level of unity and understanding; versus being silent and waiting for all the facts to be known.
Solutions we’re seeing that increase transparency:
Companies are simplifying their communications at all levels – speaking candidly about inventory issues, staffing shortages, and delays in logistics. The transparency tactics that are working include:
- Saying what you mean – Building a reputation of being direct and forthright by including the “why” along with the “what” in corporate communications. We are seeing companies sharing the rationale behind relevant decisions and creating greater visibility into the heart of the company.
- Communicating early and often — Telling representatives and customers what they need to know when they need to know it; and communicating at frequent intervals to share news of what you know when you know it. Even when you may not have all of the answers, keeping your community updated with what you can and can’t share and why creates credibility and offers assurance.
- Simplify as much as you can – Ensuring it’s easy for your field to understand how they get paid and key rules from your policies and procedures to eliminate surprises that can quickly destroy trust.
Resilience relates to a company’s ability to absorb stress, overcome issues that arise, and thrive in changing circumstances. As the business environment has become more dynamic and unpredictable, companies have been stretched and stressed as they work to adapt.
Solutions we’re seeing that increase resilience:
Companies are focusing on the positive and sharing uplifting experiences to reignite belief. Viewing situations through a positive lens makes us notice the good in cases, boosting our ability to deal with stress and be resilient. The resiliency tactics that are working include:
- Adversity as an advantage — Creating new opportunities to flourish by encouraging creative problem-solving. Seeking input and suggestions from representatives and customers is providing companies with honest and unbiased information to drive product and company development. Leveraging adversity to drive innovation is key.
- Articulating purpose — Sharing how the company is serving critical societal needs. Companies are reinforcing the crucial connections between people, their work, and the organization. Answering questions like: What are we working together to achieve? Does it make a difference? These considerations inspire people over the hurdles of difficult times because we are inherently motivated when we’re aware our work helps others.
Leading with Kindness
When you truly lead with kindness, it sets a foundation of trust – making it difficult to make decisions that aren’t ethical. On a personal level, kindness has been proven to increase your happiness, reduce stress and improve emotional wellbeing – driving increased organizational productivity, retention, and loyalty.
Solutions we’re seeing that spread kindness:
Companies are putting a higher value on kindness and balancing their focus on both the bottom line and the heart of their people, creating an environment where your entire organization feels loyal to your brand. The tactics that are working to spread kindness include:
- Practicing gratitude – Sending thank you cards and celebrating people’s successes. Research shows a direct link between appreciation and job satisfaction; the more “thank you” becomes a part of a company’s culture, the more likely representatives are to enjoy their work. Research also shows that grateful leaders motivate their teams to be more productive.
- Encouraging Random Acts of Kindness — Sharing ideas for small acts that significantly impact the people around us. Companies are committing to giving back as an organization by doing simple things like holding the door open for the person behind you, sending a text with a funny meme, or giving the delivery person a bottle of water. These acts of kindness inspire others and has a ripple effect of doing good. One study found that when someone receives an act of kindness, they pay it forward by 278%.
For our industry, lasting trust is the most vital indicator of our success. Without trust, credibility is lost, and reputation can be threatened. I hope this article has provided some inspiration for you to gain a more significant benefit from transparency, resilience, and kindness.