For the past couple of columns, we’ve been discussing the five steps toward gaining trust, the first three of which are propriety, an intent statement and commonality. The next step is credibility.

You’ve accomplished the first couple of stages and you’re thinking, “I’ve captured the common ground, so now what do I do with it?” The answer is to move on. Your destination is the next step. Destination is proving your personal credibility to your clients. The amount of time you invest in establishing credibility will vary according to a number of factors.

In this credibility stage, you may talk about your time in your industry, the types of products you sell, the product’s required investments, your company, the industry, your clients, your client’s level of need and your level of sophistication. This step is all about presenting these findings.

This is where it would be highly recommended to have a book your prospects can sift through containing pictures of you interacting with your clients and the variety of client events that are held in their honor. Also, add to your book any Letters of Recommendation you have earned. For example, I have inserted letters from clients we helped solve major estate problems they dealt with for years. I also included a letter I received from a state senator thanking us for our work on a difficult Medi-Cal case. Both letters and pictures will paint an impressive portrait of where your prospects can envision themselves and the kind of top level service they will receive as a client.

If you have done something in the community, show it off. Every year we hold a huge Toys for Tots drive in December. The plaques that we receive from the U.S. Marine Corps are displayed prominently in our office demonstrates how dedicated we are to the foundation. To further illustrate our credibility in the community, we also participate in the Better Business Bureau, the National Ethics Bureau and the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce. This is a great source for acquiring additional letters of recommendation from other business organizations.

Let your clients into your life and share pictures and stories of your family. In my years of practice I have coached and sponsored a number of youth soccer teams. Any pictures and plaques that I have received from these teams are also included in my book. The key is to show proof, in any form possible, that you are a credible advisor.

The purpose of propriety, intent statement, commonality and credibility is to lower the sales resistance temperature from 100 to 60 degrees. You are halfway there.

Remember, those first four elements all equal the final step in gaining trust, competency. I will be spending a lot of time talking about competency next month.