Sales and marketing change quickly these days. The strategies and tactics that seemed cutting-edge only yesterday seem to have become obsolete overnight. At the core of every successful and resilient strategy though lies a timeless concept: the importance of building trust. Why is trust so important to grow a successful business? How do you build trust with customers? Why are there so often gaps between how you view your trustworthiness, and how you customers do? Read on to find out.
Any salesperson or marketer worth their salt can tell you that earning loyal customers (and more importantly, retaining them) has little to do with the tactic of the day, and everything to do with your ability to create a genuine connection with them as a person. So why is it that North American consumers say they trust only about a fifth of brands? Part of the reason is our tendency to overestimate how trustworthy we appear.
Amanda Slavin, CEO & Founder of CatalystCreativ, defines sales as “a meaningful transaction between two human beings, so before asking for anything, a customer’s trust must be earned. Brands need to build narratives that align with their organization’s values and then communicate those values to their customers.” Values must not only be clearly expressed by your company, but consistently acted upon.
This leads not only to loyal customers, but people who advocate for your brand. “Look at the passion of Beyoncé fans or Harley Davidson riders — those brands have created an identity that makes people feel like they’ve added value.”
So building trust with your customers not only helps you increase your customer base and retain current customers, but it motivates those customers to send their friends and family your way as well. And don’t just brush this aside: 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision, and 91% of B2B buyers say the same.
Clearly, trust is a powerful aspect of building mutually beneficial relationships with your customers and thus running a successful business. But how do you build it?
Tips for Building Trust
Trust grows in a variety of places, so there’s no one simple formula to build it. However, we can examine the key parts that make up a trusting relationship and work from there.
1. Show Capability and Dependability
The most obvious component of trust in the business world: do clients see you as reliable? Can they depend on you? This comes down to honoring your commitments to the best of your ability, and setting clear expectations for how you operate and what you will deliver. Overpromising may help get the sale now, but it earns you a bad reputation, and people will talk about it.
We can look at this from two angles: existing customers and potential customers.
- For your current customers, increase trust by doing what you do best: consistently deliver excellent results, while remaining honest and transparent about your business practices.
- For your potential customers, honesty and transparency are still paramount, but you also need to prove the value you offer. This might mean demonstrations of how you do your work, but it could also mean how-to videos for your products, or even how-to videos for anything related to your industry, which will establish you as a trustworthy expert. Finally, testimonials from previous clients go a long way in showing your dependability to future customers..
2. Demonstrate Integrity
A big mistake many salespeople and marketers make is to think “I’m a trustworthy person, so buyers will be able to tell.” This is simply not the case. Remember, most buyers have been ripped off, lied to, or otherwise burned by any number of shady businesses. It’s up to you to demonstrate you have integrity, because buyers won’t assume so.
To do this, you must demonstrate moral principles. This means you should always do the right thing, even in morally ambiguous situations, and even if it means losing the sale. It could mean suggesting alternative solutions that are less profitable for you, or even referring a customer to a different business better suited to their needs. Buyers trust sellers who have their best interests in mind, and they won’t forget your integrity.
A great recent example of this is Patagonia, a company whose brand is strongly aligned with the environment. Due to recent corporate tax cuts (which they publicly opposed), the clothing company was about to save $10 million, but CEO Rose Marcario said the company won’t be keeping the money. Instead, they pledged the entire sum to an assortment of nonprofit environmental groups “committed to protecting air, land, and water, and finding solutions to the climate crisis.” This move demonstrates a commitment to their values even in the face of lost profits, and it has already earned the company a great deal of good will across the nation.
3. Be Human
What Patagonia did may have ruffled some feathers for those who disagree with what many consider to be a political move, but their decision also won them much deeper trust from the many people who agree with it. If you’ve been indoctrinated into the worlds of sales or marketing, you can easily forget that people don’t like to be sold to – they prefer to feel understood and connected with. Business people are often pressured to fit into the most non-threatening, agreeable mold possible, in order to avoid getting into trouble. We’re told not to talk about politics, or anything personal, and to keep things small and surface level.
Now we’re not saying this doesn’t carry a certain level of risk, but if you want to connect to people on a personal level and build trust, this is often what it takes. Building trust means establishing an emotional connection both in person and in the content you publish. Once your client feels comfortable enough to express what drives them, you can help them figure out the best solution for their needs. Be willing to help, even when that help doesn’t immediately benefit you. This way people will be much more willing to listen to your advice in other areas.
Trust is the key component to building and maintaining a customer base, as well as maintaining a positive reputation in your industry. To build trust, you need to show your clients, current and future, that you are dependable and capable. Demonstrate integrity by placing the customer’s needs above getting the sale. And finally, show your human side: don’t be afraid to let down your professional shell so you can connect with customers on a personal level. Ultimately, if you seek to build and maintain trust first and foremost,
As many of our readers know, Media272 specializes in producing high quality videos for marketing nationwide. From testimonials to business overviews, our experience shows us these videos work to build trust with buyers, whether on the consumer side or B2B. If you’d like to learn more, please follow the link below, or call 800.272.7222 and mention this blog post.
– Drew Estes, December 2018 –
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