Price, product, convenience, and understanding a policyholder’s needs are just a few of the reasons why a consumer might buy from one agent instead of another. Underlying every reason is one constant: Trust. You must earn your prospect’s trust before you can sell him or her a policy.

In traditional offline sales, you have many tools at your disposal to build trust. Everything from face time, to education, to the clothes you wear adds up in the trust-building equation. But, in an online world where you may never see or speak with your prospects, how do you build trust? Trust building is the most important job of your Web site.

Here are four simple principles to help build trust through your Web site:

1. Don’t hide behind your Web site
Show your visitors that behind your Web site is a living, breathing person ready to understand and meet their needs. Put your picture on your site, write a bio that lets visitors get to know you both as a person and a professional. And, make sure visitors know how to contact you directly if they have questions.

2. Educate and inform before asking for the sale
You would never begin a sales presentation by having your prospect fill out an application. Don’t make that mistake on your Web site. While you do want to make it easy to request a quote, quoting shouldn’t be the only thing on your site. Focus first and foremost on creating great, informative Web site content that educates your site visitors and helps them make the right decision.

3. The quality of your Web site is the quality of your business
In the past, agents used their business card, clothes, and cars to highlight their professionalism. Today, it’s the quality of your Web site, not the quality of your tie that counts. Your site must load quickly, consist of a clean and intuitive layout, and have well-written content. Spelling mistakes, broken links, missing content, and poor design cannot be tolerated. (3 strategies to drive traffic to your Web site)

4. Your Web site is not about you
For all of the photos, bios, and “about us” content, remember the end goal of your Website: To show your visitors how you can meet their needs. Make sure your site content is written in terms of your visitors’ interests and you clearly show them why they are important.

Aaron Kassover, managing partner of AgentMethods LLC, has spent the last 10 years helping insurance carriers, agencies and brokers bring their services online. He has applied this knowledge to the development of AgentMethods, a Web site platform for insurance agents, agencies and brokers.