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.
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.
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.
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.
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.