Aviv Shalgi is CEO of Solar Simplified, a platform driving accessibility, transparency and mainstream adoption of solar energy.
Nothing sinks a conversation like mistrust. If the person on the other end thinks you’re up to something, you have few options to turn the conversation into a positive experience.
Trust starts with reputation, and for businesses with little public information or a few bad reviews, a reputation can be a precarious thing. Combating misinformation is the first line of defense for a business looking to start off on the right foot with more prospects and generate more goodwill in its industry.
As the leader of a company specializing in solar energy products and services, I see misconceptions about my business, industry and products every day. Here are a few of the strategies and tips to combat misconceptions in your industry:
1. Listen to your salespeople.
Your sales team hears objections every day. Instead of telling them what to do, take a listening role and hear what they have to say. Why don’t customers want to convert? What are the biggest sticking points? Complaints about price often reveal underlying mistrust, especially for something that could save the customer money in the long run. Your salespeople are your direct connection to your customers and your company’s reputation, and they feel its effects more than anyone.
2. Build an educational guide.
Once you fully understand all the questions your prospects have about your product, company or industry, create a helpful, long-form guide with all the answers. You can be a little promotional in this content, but don’t get carried away. This is an opportunity to educate your audience instead of selling to them. Demonstrate your value as a helpful partner in their time of need, and your audience will be more willing to trust you when it’s time to buy.
3. Develop a library of helpful information.
A guide is a great start (especially if you gate the content to collect email addresses), but don’t stop there. Writing individual articles or FAQs on your site to go into more detail about individual questions is a great way to capture specific search traffic or to empower your sales team. Feel free to address specific misconceptions directly. Remember, your audience is smart enough to ask questions, so they deserve to be treated with respect. Consider calling out any specific conspiracy theories you need to debunk. Always be helpful, never resentful.
4. Back up your arguments with data and facts.
People don’t want to take your word for it, especially when you’re arguing on your own behalf. Give them cold hard information they can’t ignore. Refute misconceptions using data from trusted sources. In some cases, you may want to conduct research yourself. Our company, for example, did a survey and found that roughly 80% of people didn’t know they can get solar power without buying panels. Sharing simple facts like these is a great way to start conversations from a position of trust.
5. Encourage prospects to guide their own learning.
Say someone reads a guide and a few articles, and now, that person has a few challenging questions left unanswered. Embrace this opportunity to get to know the mind of someone who isn’t sold on what you’re saying. Answer truthfully and completely, even if the truth is complicated or makes something sound more expensive. Show yourself to be an expert. Even if this person doesn’t convert, the conversation will fuel future content for other potential customers.
6. Start promoting your answers in more places.
Your website and your social media accounts are owned channels. Most people won’t expect to see anything but positive news there, so they won’t trust the information they see as much as they would information coming from a third party. Give them what they want by distributing your educational content in multiple ways. Use emails, sponsor newsletters and make guest appearances on podcasts, panels and in interviews. Attack the conversation directly, and establish your company as the go-to expert on the topic.
The common theme among these tips is continuous improvement. People will always have new questions, and you (and your team) must be ready with answers. Create processes that empower your salespeople to tackle tough conversations, develop a steady stream of helpful content and become the trusted partner your customers and prospects deserve.