Don’t Plant Seeds of Doubt in Customers’ Minds

Make sure you’re doing everything you can to show customers that you’re the expert they expect you to be

Don’t Plant Seeds of Doubt in Customers’ Minds

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We’re living in a DIY age where how-to videos for just about anything can be found all over YouTube. Still, we won’t stop needing plumbers and drain cleaners any time soon. 

Why? Because when we call an expert for a service or product, it’s because we need an expert. There are some things we’d rather leave to the experts because they’re complicated, messy, time-consuming, and too important to get wrong. There are some things we can’t do well or do with confidence, just because we’ve watched a video or two. 

That’s why you’ll continue to get service calls, no matter how many plumbing videos there are on YouTube. But that’s also why you can’t afford to say or do anything that creates doubts about your expertise or abilities in your customers’ minds. 

How do companies plant seeds of doubt in their customers’ minds, often without realizing it? 

#1 They use the wrong language when talking about their products, services, or the problems they solve.

When you show up to do a service or provide an estimate, your customers are sizing you up — especially if it’s their first time working with you. And the words you use can greatly impact the level of confidence your clients feel in your understanding of their problem and your ability to solve that problem. 

If you say things like, “I think I could do that” or “We’ll see how it goes,” you’re planting seeds of doubt. They’re not hiring you because they want someone to see how it goes. They aren’t looking for an expert who thinks they can do something. They want to know you know you can fix their problem — that you know what the solution is. If they wanted guesswork, they’d do the job themselves.

Even if it may take some troubleshooting to determine the right solution, consider your wording. Consider how you can say that, without undermining your expertise, experience, or confidence in your ability to solve their problem.

#2 They don’t know how to address and disarm objections.

A lot of companies don’t like talking about objections clients may have to their products, services, or pricing. But just because you don’t talk about them, doesn’t mean your clients will stop having them.

When you avoid speaking to objections, you create doubt and mistrust. Clients wonder what you’re hiding and why you won’t talk about those objections. But when you’re willing to go there, especially when other companies won’t, you’re seen as transparent and, therefore, more trustworthy. Clients will feel like you really do have their best interest at heart, and you’re not just trying to protect yourself or “trick” them into something. 

Teach your team to be open and prepared to address objections. Better yet, teach them how to address objections before they’re even brought up. That proactive approach is even more effective at disarming and reassuring clients. 

#3 They don’t sell the benefits of their products or services.

You may get excited about the newest plumbing technology and products, but for the most part, your customers won’t. What will get them excited is what those new things mean for them, what the benefits are. 

If all you do is talk about the cool features or how much easier it makes your job, you send a message that you either don’t know or care about what matters to your customers. But when you turn it around and focus on how those features or that technology improves their lives, you build confidence that you understand them and their needs — and that your solutions are the right ones for them. 

One way you can do this is to always end with the phrase “so that [benefit to customer].” For example:

This technology/tool makes it possible to clear this blockage without digging up your yard, so that you’re not left with a mess or a big landscaping project. 

This new touchless faucet turns on with the wave of your hand, so that you never have to worry about spreading bacteria from raw meat or egg on your hands. 

When you focus on the benefit to the customer rather than the features, your clients will feel confident buying your products and services, because they’ll understand what’s in it for them. In other words, your products and services will practically sell themselves. 

#4 They don’t know their products or services well OR how to answer common questions around their services or products.

Chances are, none of your clients are master plumbers. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t done at least some research. Unless they need emergency service, they may have used plumber threads and websites to troubleshoot the problem prior to calling you. (Don’t believe us? Think about how many people head to WebMD to self-diagnose before calling a doctor.) 

You need to know your products and services inside and out and be able to speak on them intelligently. You need to be able to answer questions clearly and confidently, and leave your customers with the feeling that you’re the expert, not them — no matter how many hours they’ve spent surfing the Internet. 

If they feel like they know more about what they need than you do because you’re new to the trade, you can’t answer common questions with confidence and clarity, or what you’re saying contradicts what they know, they’re going to doubt you’re the right person for the job. 

One of our writers had an experience like this with a chimney sweep company. She’s put together over 100 websites for chimney sweeps and attended certification classes. She really knows her stuff. So when she asked a chimney sweep she’d hired about putting in a new gas fireplace and he got the difference between vent-free and direct-vent wrong, she lost confidence in the company. She thought, “If I know more about gas fireplaces than he does, I certainly don’t want his company doing the install.”

He may have been new to the company, or perhaps he was more versed in the air duct cleaning side of the business. But because he didn’t know his products or services well enough, she lost trust and confidence in the company. And it lost out on a sale that could have been worth as much as $10,000 — more if you include the annual service she would have needed. 

The reality is your company’s reputation as “the expert” can be wrecked by one person on your team. You can’t afford to have some experts. Everyone on your team needs to know your products and services inside and out. Make sure they do.

#5 They don’t exude confidence.

When your clients are thinking about opening their wallets, they need to be confident you can solve their problems. A lot of their confidence simply comes from how confident you are, and it’s not only your words that do the talking. In fact, a number of studies revealed that 70-93% of communication is nonverbal.

How do you present yourself when you’re on a service call? Do you exude confidence? Are you calm and professional? Do you come in like the reassuring parent who’s been there, done that, and knows just what to do? Or do you come into the situation just as flustered as the client?

How you show up and carry yourself sets the stage, so consider what message you’re sending with your body language and mindset. Teach your team how much their presentation affects perception, and make sure they work on showing up with confidence. 

You’ve put in the time. You’re the expert. Don’t let seeds of doubt from the way you and your team show up or talk about your services and products undermine that expertise. Audit your team and the customer experience you provide, and look for ways you may be planting seeds of doubt for your customers. If you spot any, put in the work to make improvements so there’s no room for doubt that you’re the best company for the job. 

About the Authors

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the co-founders of Spark Marketer, a Nashville, Tennessee-based digital marketing company that works primarily with service businesses. They're also co-authors of the book, Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love. Both regularly speak at service industry trade shows and conferences across the nation. Visit or


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