Trust is a critical part of any relationship, and that is especially true between salespeople and their prospects. Prospects are much more likely to travel through the sales process and land at the buyer’s table if they feel they are being accompanied, and perhaps even guided, by someone who has their best interest in mind.
It must be remembered that building trust with buyers is a process. Trust is not something that salespeople can earn in one conversation or sales pitch. But through the employment of specific customer-centric strategies, salespeople can build the type of trust that results in the closing of more deals and the retention of loyal customers.
Align Efforts Around the Customers’ Needs
It may sound over simplistic, but the first step salespeople should take to build trust with buyers is simply understanding their pain points. What problem is the buyer facing that would lead them to seek out a solution (i.e., your product or service)?
Too often, salespeople approach the conversation with far too many answers and not enough questions. When the door for conversation opens, salespeople quickly launch right into claiming to know precisely how to fix whatever problem the buyer is facing rather than asking thoughtful questions to get a true understanding of the issue the buyer has and how they seek to remedy it.
This scenario does nothing to build trust with the buyer. In fact, it does the opposite by undermining the buyer and making them feel incompetent and unheard. On the flip side, approaching a conversation by first asking questions that get to the root of the buyer’s problems builds trust, firmly cementing the salesperson as a trusted advisor wanting to help rather than a pushy salesperson just looking for a sale.
Another way salespeople can build trust by aligning their sales efforts around their prospect’s needs is in how they approach conversations around their product or service. Oftentimes, salespeople can focus so heavily on the benefits of their product or service that they overlook why the buyer would even want to purchase it—or perhaps if they should (or could) even purchase it right now. Salespeople should be asking buyers why they are interested in their product or service to begin with. Does the buyer have an idea of how their business will improve if they purchase your product or service? Or perhaps even more importantly, does the buyer have any idea what will happen if they don’t solve their problem with your product or service? Instead of continually pushing the product or service, salespeople who have taken the time to get to know the buyer and their needs can use that knowledge to illustrate how their product or service can make the buyer’s life better—and perhaps how that solution is needed even quicker than the buyer realized.
Provide Tangible Reasons to Trust You
Continuously talking about the benefits of a product or service doesn’t position the salesperson as a trusted advisor or guide. What can do that, however, are tangible, proven results. Research shows that 92% of B2B buyers claim they are more likely to purchase a product or service after reading a review or case study. This frame of mind is something most every buyer can relate to. Buyers are drawn to examples—tangible evidence of the before state and the improved after state—that prove results can and do happen with the particular product or service.
When a salesperson provides reviews or case studies to their prospects, it not only shows firsthand that their product or service delivers results, but it also establishes trust. It continues to illustrate that the salesperson can be viewed as the trustworthy advisor, someone who is attempting to solve the buyer’s problem rather than someone just looking to make a sale.
Set the Stage for Upstream Conversations
Aligning sales efforts around the prospect’s needs, understanding their pain points, and providing tangible results like reviews or case studies become even more important as the decision begins to move up the corporate ladder. This is for two important reasons.
One is that the prospect must be sold on the product or service being the solution before they will ever take it to their boss, and for good reason: Their reputation (and perhaps even their job) is on the line. If the prospect hasn’t been given everything needed to trust you and your product or service as the only solution for their business, they will never take it to the rest of their team to try to finalize the deal.
Secondly, rarely ever is the first person sellers meet with the decision maker in the deal. Research shows that 64% of C-suite executives are the final decision makers in B2B purchases. Executives approach the sales pitch with a different set of priorities. They are much more focused on transformational change that will occur with your product or service, how the product or service will optimize their business and why the time to purchase is now. As speaker, author and host of The Sales + Leadership Show Phil Gerbyshak perfectly puts it, “Make sure they understand that this isn’t just a procedural change. That it isn’t just so the person in the front office can save 15 minutes a week. It’s so your whole business is changed so that you can do better and do what you want to do. That you can focus on the good stuff.”
In conclusion, building trust throughout the sales journey is the only way salespeople can successfully guide their prospects to closing the deal. This starts with investing time into understanding the buyer, their problem and why they are seeking a solution. If salespeople will devote time and energy into understanding their buyer and then provide tangible results on how their product or service can deliver, they can better speak to the urgency of what will happen if the buyer doesn’t adopt a solution and position themselves as the trustworthy partner to achieve real transformational change.
Our podcast, The Centricity Podcast, is dedicated to helping small and mid-market businesses thrive and develop the sales and marketing acumen to move the needle. Tune into our episode with Phil Gerbyshak to understand the importance of trust and how why-now questions can help build it.