“Know, Like, Trust” Starts with Service

Some clichés become platitudes which are repeated constantly because they are, in fact, true and time tested. One of those clichés is that “people do business with those that they know, like, and trust.”

Like many clichés, though, this one is repeated so often that the underlying truth of it gets blurred or even lost.

My network partners at Business RadioX®, Lee Kantor and Stone Payton, offer a daily BRX Pro Tips, a minute or two commentary on some aspect of professional services, business development, or client service. These nuggets are so consistently enriching that they are part of my morning routine.

In a recent BRX Pro Tip, Lee tackled the “know, like, trust” cliché and what underlies any success one might hope to have in applying this principle to their own services business:

“That’s something that a lot of salespeople believe, that in order to sell something, the prospect has to know, like and trust them. So, if that’s true, if you really believe that to be true, then you’re going to have to know more people, you’re going to have to be more likable, and you’re going to have to be more trustworthy.

“And in order to do that, it usually begins with serving them in some manner rather than trying to sell them something the minute after you meet them. . . . “

Lee goes on to explain how some people entirely miss the boat on this point. They’ll connect with you on LinkedIn, and then immediately start pounding you with messages about their “thing,” whatever that thing is. As Lee points out, that activity may get you known, but only in an irritating way. It’s certainly not going to engender likeability or trust.

A few months ago, I received a LinkedIn connection request from someone who seemed like a good connection for me. His profile was solid, so I accepted the invite. He responded with a note about how he loves “connecting with other professionals in Georgia” and how he is “amazed by the relationships I’ve cultivated from LinkedIn.” So far, so good. I agree with that, as I’m also struck by how you can develop relationships using the LinkedIn platform.

That was the highwater mark of the encounter of our “relationship.” His message quickly veered to his tax strategies service and how he was certain he could save me money. He didn’t ask one question about myself or my business, not just a question which might reveal whether I needed his help (I don’t), but even just an inquiry which might reveal a genuine interest in me and my work.

Finally, his sixth message in four days—literally—began with, “Hate to be that pest, but wanted to follow up with you one last time.”

“I can only hope so,” I thought.

This gentleman’s personal brand is now “pest.” Yes, I know him, but not in the way that involve likeability and trust.

But it’s worse that that:  he destroyed any sense, in my mind, that he might be an expert in his field. If I need some tax strategy help in the future, do you think I’m going to think of this guy as my “go to” source?  Hardly, as he branded himself as more of a hawker of a service rather than an expert in his field.

In contrast, here’s what serving first looks like:  I recently got a call from Essie Escobedo, who owns Office Angels. Essie had a suggestion for a new client opportunity for me. That was the entire reason for the call. She had no other agenda. She wasn’t trying to sell her service in any way or use the call as a pretext for something else that benefitted her.

It was obvious that Essie had been thinking about my business in a strategic, not a superficial, way. One which revealed her default operating system as rooted in service.

This behavior is typical with Essie, which is why her business has grown and prospered over the years. Yes, Essie is known, liked, and trusted, but all of that is triggered by her practice of putting service first.

Yes, it’s counterintuitive. It’s hard to stay in a service first frame of mind, particularly if you are new in your practice or struggling to make it go. It’s easy to dismiss it and say that it works for Essie or some other person, but it won’t work for you because your circumstances are different.

Yet if you truly make it a practice to serve first in your practice, you’ll not only stand out, but your business will blossom over time.

“Know, like, and trust” starts with service.

[Note:  Lee and Stone have released an e-book called Serve to Win, a distillation of BRX Pro Tips. You can go here to receive a complimentary copy.]

Image Credit:  JumpStory

©Ray Business Advisors, LLC and John Ray


About me:  I’m enthusiastic about how changes in pricing strategy can significantly change profitability for a business and enhance life choices for business owners. I live this passion through Ray Business Advisors, my outside CFO and business advisory practice, in which my pricing is exclusively value-based, not hourly. I work with business owners on how they can change their pricing not just to increase their profits, but better serve the wants of their customers. Click here to learn more or call me at 404-287-2627.



  1. Bill Lampton, Ph.D. on September 3, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    My outlook about new contacts on LinkedIn:

    “You pitch me, you strike out.”

    • John Ray on September 10, 2020 at 11:15 am

      Makes sense to me, Bill! Thanks for your comment.

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