2 Key Strategies for Selling Trust Within Your Budding Business Did you know that people form their first impressions of a business within a tenth of a second?

By Sheldon Yellen

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

cleanfotos / Shutterstock.com

Trust has been called "the social currency of business." It's the prerequisite for any transaction. If your business doesn't have trust, it doesn't have customers -- or employees, for that matter.

Related: Why Trust Is the Most Important Part of 'Know, Like and Trust'

But in the developed world, building trust as a company is an uphill battle. You can blame the media for the image of the soulless corporation or the sleazy door-to-door salesman, but the fact remains that less than half of the general public has a positive view of businesses. And that's when times are good. Throw a couple of scandals into the mix, and less than 20 percent of people expect business leaders to tell the truth.

Luckily, this perception doesn't have to be your reality. You can earn the trust of both your employees and the public, and it doesn't have to take years to do it. Here are two key strategies any budding business can employ to foster trust within its brand community:

1. Build trust from the inside out.

Building trust always starts with your most valuable asset: your employees. They're the face of your company -- the ones doing all the servicing, selling and handshaking to keep you afloat. But if you're not careful, they'll feel lost as you scale. While you're the pilot "cruising" at 30,000 feet with a bird's-eye view of the business, they're the ground technicians who find it difficult to see past the task in front of them.

Spell out a career path for these ground-level employees to give them a stake in your company and improve retention.

For example, my property restoration company developed classifications for the different trades we employ. Each trade has a series of grades -- from basic to advanced -- with clearly specified certifications required for each grade. This kind of upward mobility has proven to be very motivating for our employees.

Dell is another company that's established employee rapport. Through its advocacy program, more than 10,000 employees directly answer customer questions, write blog posts, generate leads, etc. Dell even publicly recognizes its best advocates. With this program, Dell successfully shifted the focus from its products to its people.

Related: 4 Ways to Build a Culture of Trust Culled From My Time in Pro Football

2. Ramp up the speed with which you win trust.

Once you've established internal trust with your employees, they can project that trust onto your customers.

Studies show that people form first impressions in a tenth of a second. That means your employees don't have time to "fake it until they make it." If they're cynical about your company, that will show. They have to be "all in" from the first moment.

Every single day, my company performs restoration for homes and businesses damaged by man-made or natural disasters. We get called in at our customers' lowest moments -- when the toilet overflows, a kitchen fire ignites or the roof gets ripped off. They're vulnerable, and they need someone they can trust. The first step is to empathize with them and say, "I've done this before. I can make it better. Trust me."

Your organization has to make that sale every single day -- no matter how fast it gains momentum. Mars candy is one company that excels, in this way, at leveraging consumer trust. The company does this by starting with one customer at a time, treating every individual sale like its most important one. This strategy has established a sense of trust among its customers and fortified the company's lasting power.

In a skeptical world, your customers are not looking for just the best or cheapest widget. They're looking for authenticity. So, be good to your employees, honor your customers and they'll both reward you for it.

Related: How Long Before Your Customers Trust You? Two Years.

Wavy Line
Sheldon Yellen

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer


Sheldon Yellen is the CEO of Birmingham, Michigan-based BELFOR, the worldwide leader in property restoration and disaster recovery. BELFOR has more than 6,400 employees in 300 offices spanning 31 countries. Sheldon was featured on CBS’s Undercover Boss.

Editor's Pick

She's Been Coding Since Age 7 and Presented Her Life-Saving App to Tim Cook Last Year. Now 17, She's on Track to Solve Even Bigger Problems.
I Helped Grow 4 Unicorns Over 10 Years That Generated $18 Billion in Online Revenues. Here's What I've Learned.
Want to Break Bad Habits and Supercharge Your Business? Use This Technique.
Don't Have Any Clients But Need Customer Testimonials? Follow These 3 Tricks To Boost Your Rep.
Why Are Some Wines More Expensive Than Others? A Top Winemaker Gives a Full-Bodied Explanation.

Related Topics


Working Remote? These Are the Biggest Dos and Don'ts of Video Conferencing

As more and more businesses go remote, these are ways to be more effective and efficient on conference calls.

Growing a Business

The Best Way to Run a Business Meeting

All too often, meetings run longer than they should and fail to keep attendees engaged. Here's how to run a meeting the right way.


Take Your Social Media Earning Potential Sky-High With This $79.97 Quadcopter

Get this beginner-friendly drone for a great price for Father's Day.

Growing a Business

Subscribers Exclusive Event: Discover How These 2 Founders Turned Their Side Hustle into a Million-Dollar Lifestyle Brand

Learn how you can transform your personal brand into a thriving business empire with co-founders of The Skinny Confidential

Health & Wellness

Sleep Better, Snore Less, and Stay Cool with This Tech-Packed Pillow, Now $49.99

Let technology help you sleep better with this 8-in-1 cooling pillow.

Growing a Business

Entrepreneur+ Subscribers-Only Call | June 8: Discover How These 2 Founders Turned Their Side Hustle into a Million-Dollar Lifestyle Brand

Learn how you can transform your personal brand into a thriving business empire with co-founders of The Skinny Confidential