The Credibility Process

This week’s blog is by Michael Lovas, an author, coach and an expert in the psychology of professional credibility.

I’ve been researching credibility since 1991. It’s not some mystical quality; it’s the result of a scientific process. In this piece, I’m going to give you the basic steps in that process. But first, why is credibility important? Because it’s the key to referrals.

Now, here are the steps to the Credibility Process:

  1. Safety:  This is where the fight or flight response comes into play, and neither is a good thing. Needless to say, very few people buy from someone they don’t feel safe with. Ever make in-person cold calls? The most important thing you can do is make sure people feel safe. That includes the receptionist and other gatekeepers. They don’t fear someone attacking them in the office. They fear someone manipulating or otherwise taking advantage of them.
  2. Familiarity:  This is the first step in the “likeability” part of the process. Ever talk with someone and wonder where you met that person before? That’s familiarity. It’s an unconscious determination that the person is okay. The key to this step is your ability to read the other person and move into their communication style. Your job is to become as familiar as possible to the person you’re talking with. They will see themselves in you, but won’t realize it.
  3. Relevance:  Is your product or service a good match for the prospect? If yes, you might be able to demonstrate your credibility. If it’s not a good match – but you still try to make a sale – you’ll demonstrate that your credibility is questionable.
  4. Credibility:  This is where your product expertise comes in. At this point, you’re probably asking your prospect some questions. Are they broad, open-ended questions or pointed, short-answer questions? The point is that you have not yet earned the right to ask those broad questions. So start by asking short ones – they demonstrate your wisdom and expertise.

In conclusion, the study of credibility is a combination of many disciplines:  psychology, sociology, anthropology, personal development and political science. It is neither simple nor easy to find appropriate research related to credibility. We’ve found it because we’ve spent about 18 years searching for it.

Now you’ve had a tiny peek inside the Credibility Process. Knowing which steps to focus on can help you improve your own credibility during a sales call and take your business up a significant leap.

One thought on “The Credibility Process”

  1. If you’ve reached this comment, that means you probably read my blog post. Thanks! I thought you might appreciate a little more insight into how to build your likeability.

    Yesterday, I delivered a 2-hour seminar to the Spokane CPA Society. The main point I made at the beginning was that if you can’t get the prospect to like you, he most likely won’t do business with you. And, the key to likeability is familiarity – making yourself seem more familiar to the prospect. And, the most effective way to do that is to match the prospect’s facial expressions.

    The Credibility Process is explained in our book Axis of Influence. And, an in-depth exploration of how to read faces is our book Face Values. Both are available from our website:

    Of course, you could just send me an email and ask specific questions.

    Michael Lovas

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