Just 56% of general populations around the world trust business.
When trust in business suffers no one is more affected than salespeople on the frontline.
They’re the invisible face, so when things go pear-shaped those who lose credibility are the salespeople themselves.
Responsible for rebuilding trust with business-to-business (B2B) clients, salespeople are not just the face of a company, they’re usually the ‘owners’ of relationships.
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So when trust is low or lost for some reason that is not their own doing, salespeople’s work becomes compromised.
Building trust in the first instance is long process that requires time, skill, professionalism and an outstanding level of service or product, including post sales service, delivery and customer service.
When trust is lost, regaining it can be even more challenging because there are many factors that play a part in it.
Firstly, salespeople usually have to deal with the misalignment between marketing and sales. We see it time after time: marketing projects an image to prospects and customers which indicates everything or anything is possible, or whatever promise they choose to promote.
Deliverability is something marketing campaigns seldom mention, not on purpose, but there’s so much information you can throw at an audience at once.
Even when marketing and sales are aligned, there can be poor customer service post sale or lack of technical support.
Lastly, even if the person with whom the salesperson has the relationship within the buying organisation still trusts the salesperson and their business, the decision-making process is not linear any more.
There’s a high chance that this contact person is no longer the decision maker (or at least not the only decision-maker involved in the purchase).
Decision making takes longer and professional buyers and corporate governance and process get in the way making interactions, discussion and making decisions more difficult and adding unnecessary levels of complexity.
So, what is a salesperson to do in this context?
There are 4 characteristics successful salespeople have that help them rebuild trust.
They are flexible:
- They use data that their organisation has been collecting to contact their prospects and clients at better points in the buying process;
- They understand that first time buyers and buyers that have bought from them before have different contact needs and act accordingly;
- They contact their prospects or buyers with more relevant information starting the conversation already from a point where is clear that they understand the buyer’s stage;
- They communicate clearly and with the frequency needed at each particular situation and not following blindly rigid corporate guidelines; and
- They use different media and platforms to engage and communicate with their prospects or clients depending on their prospects or clients’ preference or availability.
They are flexible:
- They show their prospects or clients every part of the solution, conditions and explain where each item and number come from and why. If necessary they also disclose their own suppliers;
- They don’t hide information and they don’t lie; and
They say no when they won’t be able to do something. They don’t create expectations they know they won’t be able to fulfil.
They are consistent and predictable:
- Successful salespeople behave consistently across the whole buying journey. They use the same language, they set the tone –candid, formal, etc.- and stick to it. They present themselves in person the same way they do via phone, video calls, or emails and messages. There are no surprises; and
- They are predictable and they keep their word. If they say they are going to reply to a message within a day, they do. If they promise a quote for the next 48 hours, they deliver the quote within 2 days, if for some reason beyond their control things are not going to happen as they told their prospect they would, they communicate that clearly and explain the reason for the change.
They genuinely care:
- Successful salespeople genuinely care and they show it;
- They are good listeners and are empathic;
- Their prospect or customer’s success is at the centre of every solution they present; and
- They follow up during implementation to ensure all goes well.
Of course, these are key characteristics of successful salespeople in any circumstance, however, without them it is very difficult to regain trust.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.