By Cliff Findlay
In business trust is everything. Difficult to create and so easy to destroy (just look at VW).
This is the case in any business sales cycle. People look for reviews, testimonials and thought leadership pieces. They examine and process data quickly and easily, making decisions as to whether to follow up and get in contact depending upon what they feel.
Mistrust can be created anywhere in the sales cycle and needs to be taken very seriously as it can either severely slow down the sales process or completely stop it, depending upon how much mistrust has been created.
In a recent survey we ran 56% of business owners who had been referred to another wouldn't contact them if their website was poor or had poorly defined messaging. I remember explaining this to a client who didn't wish to redo their website even though it was terrible - and I mean terrible. The site had too much text, everything was written from a ‘what we do’ perspective and there was nothing to back up their claims of how professional and brilliant they were.
Why didn't they wish to change? Too much hassle. We eventually looked at the poor conversion of referrals, the competition in the market and what they were doing and the impact their unwillingness to change was having on the business. They relented. We did a quick fix and helped them realign themselves online, produced some thought leadership pieces to underpin their past, got some good testimonials and guess what... they are so busy they can't move, expanding rapidly as I write this. Just common sense really.
People were being told that they were great. They were. But when people looked at them online they didn’t appear like it, immediately creating fear in the potential buyers minds - hence, no contact.
A poor online presence however isn't always the issue. Another client we started working with wanted a full redesign of their website as they had determined this was why they weren’t generating the sales they should be. However, upon investigation we found that they allowed their sales people to create sales power points on the fly with no process or brand guidelines. Aggghhhhh! The PowerPoint was critical to the sales cycle, however, they were often confused, overly salesy and had hideous clip art images of jigsaw puzzles and cats. This ultimately ruined the brand image, bored the potential client ragged and again created mistrust as the company they had agreed to meet weren't the company standing in front of them presenting. Yes, the website needed a tidy, but the key to their sales process was creating a slide deck that their sales people could choose from that simply needed a new company name and logo to be dropped in.
I only raise these points to demonstrate that at ALL communication points (whether you are in front of the client or not) you are communicating with a potential client and have the ability to enhance or destroy the brand message, which either creates trust or destroys it. No trust, No sale! We're all the same. When was the last time you bought something from someone you didn't trust?
So how do you manage trust? Define the strategy, key messaging, sales conversation, design, content, structure of the sales process and ensure you have covered all bases. At least if you have reviewed all interaction points you will have given yourself more chance of making the sale. Of course it can't be guaranteed but it goes a long way to ensuring you aren't the one creating the hurdle.
So review your sales cycles in depth, look at what you say, what you use, how you dress, how you speak. Everything impacts and everything can potentially help lose you a sale.
For more information and useful resources you may wish to read The Reluctant Shopper and The Brand Gap. If you haven't seen it already maybe have a look at our infographic which shows how businesses buy....
Latitude Solutions Ltd
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