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Your Company May Have a Costly Trust Problem. Here’s How to Fix It — And Boost Your Profits.


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Hemingway famously wrote that the best way to determine if someone is trustworthy is simply to trust them. In most businesses, particularly in tech, trust has historically been hedged on two main factors: security and compliance. I believe this approach (much like Hemingway’s advice) is not only outdated but also costs companies millions every year.

As a chief trust officer, I’ve worked with dozens of companies in retail, software and even biotech, helping to turn their trustworthiness into a product they can take to market. This approach has led to faster sales and higher customer satisfaction, but it requires an entirely new way of thinking — and operating. And the reality is that most businesses are thinking about trust in the wrong way: It’s not about accumulating checkmarks on an IT or compliance list — it’s about enabling, defending and creating real business value.

At a time when technological, sociological and even geopolitical forces are pushing us to reevaluate authenticity and how to foster trust in a world full of misinformation and deep fakes – I’ve been thinking about this challenge a lot.

Simply put, if trust in your company or product is required to make a sale, you can and must turn it into an intentional product based on evidence of how you run your business. Here’s how to transform trust into a go-to-market product with significant ROI (and why it has never been more important):

Trust is taking a beating

Cyber attacks, data breaches and online fraud have exponentially increased in recent years, but it’s not just cybersecurity that’s causing trust issues. Edelman’s 2024 trust barometer revealed more than two-thirds of respondents believe business leaders are purposely trying to mislead people.

Companies like Meta and Boeing have famously made headlines for devastating customer trust issues in recent years. In the software sector, I’ve seen firsthand how the downstream effects of declining trust can negatively impact companies, whether through costly audits and compliance checks or by chipping away at their long-term valuation.

Whatever your business, thinking about trust as a product can be an invaluable way to streamline sales, boost revenue and support core business metrics. And trust really does matter in the grand scheme of your company’s success: trusted companies have been shown to outperform their peers by 400%.

Building a new trust framework

For most companies, trustworthiness will be scrutinized most during the sales process. But I believe businesses need to start thinking and talking about trust well before they get to this stage. The reality is, that trust has to be a core part of how you run your business, and customers care about that more than you think.

The best place to start is by understanding exactly what your customer needs — and then finding ways to ensure those needs are being served by your organizational practices and operations. Here’s the trust framework I use:

1. Productize your process

Customers care about how your product is made – and they want to hear about how you deal with problems just as much as how you’ll help them succeed (this is especially true in software, where prospective buyers require evidence of safe processes and trustworthy, predictable behavior to give the green light on a purchase).

So how do you do this? Compile evidence of your trustworthiness into relevant trust stories that demonstrate to your customers why they can and should trust how you do what you do — whether it’s a view into your data storage practices, supply chain, or your approach to company governance. By getting ahead of the curve and proactively removing the possibility of trust friction, you can accelerate sales and value generation.

2. Set up a trust shop

While security and compliance traditionally belong to IT, a trust practice must be much more holistic — not to mention championed and adopted by a broad cross-section of company leaders. Every segment of your business — from operations to marketers to the C-suite – should be talking about your trust practices and telling your trust stories.

And, of course, adding a chief trust officer to your team will inevitably accelerate the investment in trust as a core value driver (not to mention demonstrate to others the importance you place on trust as an organization as a whole).

3. Map to C-suite metrics

As with any practice, you need to know whether your trust practice is working. So how do you measure it? Use the same metrics your CFO does, such as impact or influence on customer acquisition costs, churn and sales.

Be sure to align your trust practice to business value metrics that will get management buy-in. I’ve personally seen results that speak directly to executives, such as decreases in time to close deals, increased revenue, and fewer (if any) disruptive audits.

The bottom line: trustworthy companies and products command a premium in the market.

If trust plays a critical role in your business outcomes, then changing the way you think about it — and treating it as a product — can ultimately add tremendous value. But the best measure of success? For most businesses, it’s knowing that, at the end of the day, your customers want to work with you because your company is genuinely trustworthy. And that proof is in your trust product.

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