Essence of credibility

Credibility is all about being believable and trustworthy. One of the main challenges manufacturers and retailers have is establishing credibility with the customer. What are they looking for in the credibility stakes? Let us delve and understand...

Establishing credibility is one of the important aspects for sales and business growth. The consumer is more likely to trust their inbuilt shopping experience, or from other reliable resources than the salespersons. Some industries have an easier job of getting the credibility message across than other. Whatever industry you are, the rule of  thumb is to get the credibility message across as quickly as possible.


This is my list of essential attributes for the credible salesperson:


I have heard salespeople say that it does not matter what they wear when dealing with the customer as it is their knowledge that is important. We live in a society that, for better or worse, judges people on first impressions. What you wear does matter. There is a dress code for nearly every job. Some of those codes may be quite strict with little leeway, others may be loser, but a code still exists. You cannot get away with wearing bermuda shorts if you are a bank manager. The consumer will judge you on what you wear; you have to play by their rules, not yours.


The consumer will believe you if they feel you are confident about what you are talking about. That means you need to watch your body language. Use positive, not negative, body language when dealing with the client. This means that facial expressions are as important as having an open body stance. We pick up the little clues at a sub conscious level when talking to each other. You need to show you are confident in what you are saying. How you say it is as important as what you are saying.


It still amazes me when I am presenting conferences and ask for people’s business cards, a number of people tell me they have left them at home. Business cards are an important tool in your armoury and should be with you all the time. When you cannot present a business card your credibility declines in the customers mind straight away.


To gain credibility with the consumer you have to start the conversation in the right way to obtain the information you require to gain the credibility. Open questions, those that start with How, When, Where and Why allow the consumer to explain where they are in the process, what information they already have and what information is missing in their mind. This allows you to fill the gaps for them.


Credible people are good listeners, not only do they listen, but they show that they are listening. With perfect listening skills, customer will be more open with you. Do not butt in at the wrong time or interrupt and finish the conversation for the customer. The golden rule in a successful transaction is that you talk for about 30 per cent of the time and listen for about 70 per cent of the time.


Set out a plan on when and how you will continue the communication journey with the customer and then stick to that plan. We are still waiting for a plumber to phone us from three months ago after he promised he would ring back straight away. Credibility is about agreeing to the ground rules and sticking  to them.


Remember that your work in a team and the weakest member in the team actually set the ground rules for the consumer. You will be judged on your weakest performer, not the best performer.


  1. First impression based on what you wear
  2. Watch the body language
  3. Have a business card handy
  4. Use open questions to start the conversation
  5. Listen
  6. Follow up with an agreed timetable
  7. Credibility is based on the weakest team member in your team
  8. Keep up to date with latest trends
    Keep up to date with the trends that your customer is keeping up with that surround your product.  A car salesperson may need to keep up with car markets, or a garden centre retailer may need to keep up with fashion magazines to keep up with colour trends.


Consumers are looking for salespeople they can trust and whom they feel are credible. It is your role to make sure you move past customer service and start building credibility.


John Stanley is an acclaimed retail consultant and Western Australian Entrepreneur of the Year 2009.  John is author of  several marketing, customer service and retail books including the best seller “Just About Everything a Retail Manager Needs to Know”, his company is Western Australian Small Business Champion 2009 - Education and Training.  

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