The Credibility Gap and Why You MUST Close It

BY Jessica Helinski
Featured image for “The Credibility Gap and Why You MUST Close It”

Closing the credibility gap is an important part of the sales process. Most likely, you won’t be familiar with every new prospect you come across. That's why it’s necessary to establish your credibility if you want to make the sale. “Selling often means speaking to people who’ve never heard of you,” explains Sales Hacker’s Andrew Gazdecki. “But as you’ve probably experienced, there’s usually a credibility gap, and until it’s filled, they’re not likely to move forward with you.”

What is the credibility gap?

What is the credibility gap? Sales reps spend plenty of time learning about their product and honing their selling skills. All of that internal focus can make them feel confident in their abilities. But it doesn't do much for the buyer. Before a buyer is willing to listen to a rep, they want to know whether they can trust the person and the product they're pitching. If the rep is selling a well-​known brand, they'll carry some credibility. But, generally, they'll need to build their personal credibility before they can score a video call or a return email from a prospect.

If the prospect can't find out anything about you online, such as through your LinkedIn page or articles you've shared or authored, you don't have much credibility. In fact, our Selling to SMBs survey reveals that a sales rep's years of industry experience, names of previous employers, and certifications all make a difference to buyers. They'll look for these details online before they meet with you. If they can't find that information, you have a credibility cap. Gazdecki explains just why the credibility gap can make or break a sale, and he also shares tips for expertly closing it using five steps.

Closing the credibility gap: Be visible and compelling

One of the primary steps Gazdecki recommends is getting into your customer's head by creating content they need and will use. “Your customers won’t respond to generic sales messages,” he writes. “[Your] content and messaging needs to be meaningful, relevant, helpful, and improve their lives.” So, what exactly does that mean? 

  • Meaningful: Well-​researched, thoughtful, referenced, and somehow enlightens the prospect with new information or older information presented in a new way
  • Relevant: Directly relates to the individual prospect, whether it’s personalized information, delivered a specific way, or given to them exactly when they need it
  • Helpful: Answers a questions, solves a problem, clears confusion, or provides actionable advice

Offering content that fulfills those requirements will bring you closer to closing the credibility gap. And, Gazdecki points out, creating this content will take time and research; don’t create just what you think they want or need. “Research what your customers enjoy, track views and engagement metrics, and test what works so that you’re creating content you know your customers will love,” he explains.

Create your own process

The credibility gap is a major factor when working with each and every new-​to-​you prospect. Thankfully, Gazdecki’s article thoroughly walks you through the process of closing it. He presents a lot of information but cautions against feeling overwhelmed: It’s not a checklist, but rather guidelines to follow and adapt to your own strategy. “Closing the credibility gap is actually very simple, but it’s important to anchor your strategy to a solid set of principles,” Gazdecki writes. “Commit to it, and soon you’ll find, where there once was a credibility gap, there is now a bridge to better sales.”

Don't ask yourself, "What is the credibility gap?" Take steps to ensure that you're highly credible in the eyes of every prospect.