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The 5 Keys to Building Customer Trust and Loyalty

The 5 Keys to Building Customer Trust and Loyalty

Today’s customer simply does not trust salespeople. Their skepticism was validated by Forrester research that revealed 59% of B2B customers prefer to make purchases without the assistance of a salesperson. They believe that salespeople have only their own agenda to worry about and that this means they cannot make an unbiased recommendation.

In fact, many consumers decide not to make a purchase altogether because they are wary of being coerced into buying the wrong product or service. Another recent survey found that 48% of B2B purchasers want a new solution but are afraid to pull the trigger because they fear it’s too risky. If you want to build relationships with these customers and close more sales, you need to earn their trust. Here are five important ways you can build trust with a skeptical B2B customer:

1. Address big issues upfront

The key to selling truthfully is figuring out exactly what your customer needs, and knowing if you can fill those needs. Don’t stretch the truth about features or benefits, and don’t promise anything that you won’t be able to deliver. Customers are able to do plenty of research on their own and will be able to see right through you. Instead, be upfront and honest about any potential problems or shortcomings. By bringing them up yourself, your customer will respect your honesty and begin to trust you.

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If these issues can be overcome, you will be able to start working on a potential solution together. If not, at the very least you will get credit for not wasting your prospect’s time. This will be advantageous in future business dealings when your prospect has the budget, authority, need, and timing to purchase your product or service.

2. Start with a small promise – and keep it

The best way to earn a prospect’s trust is by keeping your word. The ultimate test relies on if your solution meets what they’re looking for, but you can start much earlier than that.

Begin by promising to call or meet them at a specific time or place and show up on time. Promise to send them additional materials the next morning, and keep your word. These are small gestures, but they show that you are serious about keeping your word and will go a long way to building an honest relationship.

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3. Offer an authentically personalized solution

If you simply offer a customer your standard elevator pitch, it’s going to be hard for them to trust you. After all, it’s the same spiel that you’ve delivered to hundreds of other prospects before them. In order to really start developing your relationship, you need to create a solution tailored specifically for them.

When you start a conversation, listen to their needs and make sure you completely understand the way their business works before making a pitch of your own. With this information at hand, you can develop a presentation focused on their unique problems and how you can address them. If at all possible, discuss how your services can be customized to fit their business. This helps builds trust and ensures your solution is well-positioned.

4. Speak of the competition respectfully

You should avoid mentioning the competition if at all possible, but sometimes you will need to speak about them. Your customer may specifically bring them up, or they could be the elephant in the room. Avoid talking poorly of the competition, even if it’s the truth. This only makes you look unprofessional and untrustworthy.

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Talk humbly about the competition, and use your own company’s strengths to curry favor rather than negatively exploiting a direct competitor’s weaknesses. For example, you should say something along the lines of: “Company X does provide a comprehensive security suite, but we’re able to offer some additional features such as…”.

5. Sabotage your own sale

In order to be truly trustworthy as a salesperson, you need to be willing to walk away from a sale that just isn’t a good fit. This means you should try to steer a prospect away even if they’re interested and you know for sure that your solution isn’t going to solve their problems. The value of making the initial sale isn’t worth as much as your integrity, or the bad word-of-mouth that could quickly spread.

Instead, you’ll want to build a referral network with other companies that service certain customers better than you do. You can refer these customers to other businesses in your niche and expect to receive referrals in reciprocity. You will help customers find their perfect solution and spread goodwill.

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Building trust with a skeptical customer is difficult, especially if they don’t give you much of a chance, to begin with. Keeping the information above in mind as you work through the sales process will help you overcome many of these issues, and close more business.

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Published on December 17, 2018

15 Important Interview Questions to Ask Employees During an Interview

15 Important Interview Questions to Ask Employees During an Interview

The importance of asking great questions cannot be overstated. Great questions help you discover new things, diagnose existing problems, and explore how well solutions are working in your life or business. Whether you work with consultants, executives, or entry-level employees, you cannot skip questions.

Now imagine running a company where sustainability and profitability depends on your ability to determine the brightest minds and skills in the industry in a single conversation:

How do you know they’re the perfect fit for you? How do you assess their communication skills? How do you know they won’t cost your team in the long run?

You know it already; ask great questions!

The concept of asking questions isn’t new but there is a great chance that you’re not taking full advantage of it. A Harvard Business Review article refers to questioning as a powerful tool that unlocks value, fuels innovation and performance improvement.[1] As a hiring manager or recruiter, how to you get this information when you’re meeting a candidate for the first time?

Ask great questions, of course.

Without further ado, here are 15 interview questions to ask employees during an interview:

1. “What are your career goals?”

Another version of this question is “What types of problems do you see yourself solving in the future?”

This question is almost never asked and when it is asked, most questions are geared towards knowing how long the employees intends to stay in the company.

Instead of asking leading questions that would steer employees into declaring undying loyalty for the organization, ask what types of problems they hope to solve in the future.

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This does two things:

  1. It reveals the skills and interest in your employees.
  2. It lets you know what types of candidates you are attracting in the first place.

With this, you’re able to trend this data to improve how you market your job opening. And if employee retention is pertinent to you, you can use this information to improve the job function so that future employees can see their future selves in this role.

2. “Why do you think you’re a great fit?”

It is important to go beneath the surface to ask questions that make the candidates speak about themselves in their own words. However, a surprising benefit of asking this question is that you’re able to determine how well-versed a candidate really is with the company’s challenges and goals, in addition to their personal attributes.

Instead of listing off accomplishments, an exceptional employee is able to help you see how these previous accomplishment can translate into helping your organization solve its current business problems.

3. “What do you hope to learn from this role?”

The answers to this question can reveal if there is a job-skill match and if a linear career progression is expected.

As you listen carefully and mind these answers from candidates, you begin to see trends in responses that help you refine how you develop roles, responsibilities, how employees see themselves, and what they want their career to look like.

4. “How do you deal with conflict between colleagues?”

Almost every breakdown in relationship is caused by miscommunication or lack of effective interpersonal skills. But a solid indicator of how well a person communicates is how they manage interpersonal conflict.

Conflict management skills is no longer something required only for corporations who wish to settle million-dollar lawsuits. It’s an essential skill that every worker ought to possess and can make or break an organization.

Tip: Ask for a time when they didn’t get along with a co-worker and how they resolved the conflict.

5. “How did you learn about this position?”

Asking how they learned about the position reveals how the brand is perceived by the outside world. This way, you know if your current employees is your biggest source of referrals for qualified applicants.

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This also lets you know how effective your current staffing processes are and which channels are worth the effort.

6. “Why are you interested in this position?”

Again, another seemingly basic question. But when you field applications from candidates who are transferring their skills from a different department or industry, you want to know why the change was made.

What led to the aha moment? What was the internal struggle like for them? What stands out to them about this particular position? Very important.

7. “What excites you the MOST about this position?”

After establishing how passionate they are about this position, it’s not unusual that you would want to know what tasks and responsibilities excite them most. With this knowledge, not only are you aware of their sense of ownership, you help nurture these skills by encouraging and facilitating the discovery of hidden potential in your employees.

For example, a hospital nurse might detest inserting intravenous catheters in patients but jump at the task of motivating colleagues and initiating stress-reduction activities on hospital units. An office employee might cringe at the thought of public speaking but excel at creating world-class presentations.

While you can’t exempt your employee from every task in the role because they favor one thing over another, you are more aware of how rich your existing talent pool is in your organization and can utilize your talents effectively.

8. “What do you consider your weakness?”

Why should you ask a candidate what his or her weakness is when all you want is someone perfect?

Admitting a weakness shouldn’t automatically disqualify a candidate. Rather, it reveals to you how self-aware the candidate is.

Self-awareness is essential to personal and professional development, and this is sometimes a precursor to how self-directed a person is regarding their career goals.

There are arguments about the need to abolish the weakness question from interviews because it reduces candidates’ accomplishments. I disagree.

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Asking employees about weaknesses lets you understand your employees better so you can not only create a work environment that is smart, you’re able to design professional development programs that can strengthen these weaknesses.

9. “What will you find challenging about this position?”

Maybe you don’t want to ask the ”weakness question.” Maybe you’re more concerned about the capacity to perform in the current job rather than their job history.

Still, you want to know if you have a creative problem solver and how they feel about potential problems when they arise. You also want to anticipate how your employees will adjust to their roles once they are successfully hired. Self-awareness about one’s ability and limits can be observed by asking this question during an interview.

Note: This question should never be asked with a malicious intent. Exceptional employees come with flaws and this should be expected. They key is knowing whether the successful candidate is willing to be a problem solver.

10. “What additional support will you need during your transition?”

This is a very important question during the interview question because not only is the labor market diverse, the response to this question can be used to develop the orientation process and additional training materials.

As a mentor to newer nurses, this is a question I repeat more than 50 percent of the time during the orientation period. The responses I get provide me with insights into what employees really consider as constraints so that I can make their transition as smooth as possible.

11. “What qualities do you desire in a leader or manager?”

Not everyone desires a manager who provides direction while giving you free rein to make your job your own. At the same time, some employees might prefer a manager who is detail-oriented and provides all the answers.

Knowing this before a candidate is hired can prevent conflict arising from differences in communication or management styles.

12. “What do you do if you don’t agree with your manager’s decisions?”

Conflict not only happens between employees. According to a study of conflict in the Canadian workforce,[2] about 81 percent of people leave the organization as a result of conflict.

The purpose of this question is to determine how adaptable an employee is to different communication styles, what they consider deal breakers, and how they model desired behavior when conflict arises.

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The responses to this question allows you to manage expectations and an indication for leaders to continuously work on their communication and conflict management skills.

13. “What would make this company an amazing place to work?”

Maybe you can’t provide free lunches or paid hours of free time at work like bigger companies. But answers to this question can reveal a lot about what employees think is crucial to well-being.

In a study of nearly 17,000 employees,[3] it was noted that an increase in stress level is directly correlated to workplace injury. While this interview won’t eradicate organizational constraints or stressors, feedback from candidates and employees on what makes a company a great place to work is the perfect place to start.

14. “What other questions do you have for me?”

Although this is a conversation to determine the best fit for your team, company, or organization, the interview goes both ways. Yes, you are also being scrutinized by your interviewee.

The purpose of this question is to create space to answer the candidate’s questions about your organization. You also get to provide insight on processes, expectations, team culture, and information that isn’t readily available on the company website.

15. “Tell me about yourself”

If everything else seems too much, lead with this timeless question. You simply cannot go wrong here.

Sometimes, the best answers come from open-ended queries. This is your best chance to know the candidate’s history, career accomplishments, and get a feel for their career goals all at the same time.

It is less intrusive and leading with this question makes it easier to approach other questions––depending on how sensitive the position is.

The Bottom Line

Conversation is a two-way street. Good questions can give you great insights into the value an employee can bring to your company. But there is an art and science to asking questions.

While you won’t become an expert right off the bat, these questions provide a good foundation to start from if you want to attract and retain top talent in your organization.

More Resources About Job Interview

Featured photo credit: Drew Beamer via unsplash.com

Reference

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