Now, more than ever, customers have endless options and information at their fingertips. With time, money, and resources becoming increasingly precious, fostering confidence and loyalty is key to sales success. So how do we build trust in a world of immediacy and unlimited alternatives? When we think about ideas of trust, loyalty, and renewal, it’s best we look at things from the customers’ perspective.
Whether in our professional or personal lives, our purchases are usually driven by one thing—WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). This applies at the individual, departmental, and organizational levels for B2B sales. When exploring the intersection of these different levels of need, a powerful way to think about trust is in the context of value.
By delivering value and fulfilling your commitments, you have the power to build trust. But it’s not something that happens in a singular moment. It’s a process that spans the full customer journey. The following five considerations can make all the difference.
1. KNOW WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOUR CUSTOMERS
In life, as in business, I believe we implicitly and explicitly trust people and companies that take the time to get know us. This means showing you care about and understand your customers’ needs, worries, goals, challenges, fears, and ambitions.
It’s a mistake to think that customers care about the features and functionality of your product. They are focused on themselves—on their company, their career, their situation. If you can help them achieve their goals and meet their broader objectives, that’s where you can win. So, the first step is fully understanding those objectives. It starts with in-depth research even before your first interaction.
Take the time to review public communications and educate yourself on current industry trends. And when you do get to have a conversation, ask good questions and listen closely to your customer’s answers. Don’t be afraid to update your initial conclusions and assumptions. It only serves your customer in the long run. A good conversation can give you what you need to align their goals with the value you can bring to the table.
2. UP-LEVEL YOUR CONVERSATIONS
As your relationship evolves, up-leveling the conversation is essential. The C-suite is where key decisions are made. Ensuring the value that you can deliver aligns with what decision-makers care about is how you can be part of the conversation.
To be blunt, no one really cares how your technology works. They want to know what it can do for their business. Value conversations are the best way to communicate that. Being customer-specific and value-centered is how you can gain executive buy-in. This is how you will demonstrate your understanding of the industry, the prospect’s unique needs, and the outcomes that matter. Engaging in a relevant way with different stakeholders, especially the higher-level ones, helps gain trust.
3. SHOWCASE VALUE IN EVERY INTERACTION
Who doesn’t like proof of concept? When it comes to value, my motto is you can never overcommunicate. Presenting quantifiable value benefits to customers at all touchpoints and at all levels—from marketing to sales to success—can make a dramatic difference. This requires proactively highlighting value realized, even before customers ask for it.
Consistently and seamlessly demonstrating value promotes transparency and shows customers how you’re meeting and even exceeding expectations. And when it’s time for renewal and expansion, it won’t be difficult to continue winning their commitment (or avoiding their discount efforts).
4. COLLABORATE AND CREATE INTERNAL CHAMPIONS
One of the most powerful sales strategies is to join forces with your clients. Who said vendor/customer relationships have to be antagonistic? Teaming up helps forge deep, long-lasting loyalty, which is essential in today’s as-a-service world.
One way to create this kind of collaborative relationship is by working with customers early in the sales process to create high-quality business cases that are relevant to them (we’re back to tip No. 1). Your prospects can help you determine the best value drivers and you can help educate them on the assumptions and capabilities that underpin your solution. This also allows you to develop them into champions who can co-sell and speak internally about the value of your solution. Their understanding can be leveraged to sway key stakeholders such as procurement officers and executives.
5. USE TECHNOLOGY TO MAKE FOCUSING ON VALUE EASIER
Having a consistent value success strategy promotes brand loyalty. Finding efficient ways to measure and manage that value is key to sustainability. Customer value management platforms make this possible. Like your customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning systems, these are data platforms that connect information silos across your organization and can help you scale your value efforts organization-wide.
The goal is to simplify and accelerate how you track value so everyone can have the metrics they need to share with prospects and customers. Just be sure you have a solution that integrates with your existing system and processes in order to maximize your investments.
In today’s metrics-based world, marketing and sales teams spend a lot of time talking about conversion. Yes, that’s important, but when you think about the long game and the full customer journey, I think focusing on relationships is key. These are the connections that foster renewals, lead to service expansions, and generate referrals. And like every relationship, they are built on trust. When you bring value to bear, trust can come organically.
Tim Page, DecisionLink CEO, is on a mission to transform customer value into a strategic asset.