“People will accept the advice of insight sellers only to the extent that they trust them.” - Mike Schultz & John Doerr, Insight Selling
Trust is a critical component to sales success. In their buyer research, the authors of Insight Selling learned what we know instinctively: trust is one of the top 10 factors separating first place from first loser in the sales process. Lack of trust pretty much guarantees you’ll lose a deal. Low trust hurts client loyalty.
Companies and sales reps need trust. This means you need to be trustworthy. It also means you need to look trustworthy. Today, I want to assume you are a trustworthy salesperson working for a trustworthy company. Let's turn our focus on the importance of looking trustworthy.
Over the course of working with technology companies across North America, Australia, and Europe, I have met many talented, credible sales people with deep insight into the products, services, and solutions they sell. I’ve also worked with many companies that have a rich history of great service, tenured employees, and consistent integrity.
The challenge is that when you look at these sales people or companies online, you don’t get the sense that they are trustworthy.
We’ve all seen the CEB research that shows that today’s B2B buyer is over 57% of the way through the buying process before they reach out to a vendor or sales person. Whether you think this number is high or low, the reality is that online impressions play a huge role in how buyers evaluate potential vendors.
So, the question I have for you is simple: “Do you look trustworthy online?”
This question needs to be answered by both sales reps and companies. Let’s consider each of these.
Your online presence is primarily your LinkedIn profile. Whether you like social networks or not, a large percentage of your buyers will hit your LinkedIn profile during the buying process. What they find either builds trust or hurts trust.
- Insight: Does your LinkedIn profile share insights that would be helpful to your buyers? Do they get the sense that you are someone that could add value to their business?
- Integrity: What are other people saying about you? Are there references from people you work with? Do you have a healthy network? Who are your connections? Are they good, or someone I want to know?
- Image: Do you look credible? This sounds simple, but do you have a professional header?
Don’t hear me wrong -- sales reps need to be trustworthy. They need to follow up on what they say they will do. They need to do the heavy lifting of educating themselves so they can add value. However, I know many reps who exhibit these qualities that don’t look the part online. Changing this could be a game changer in the level of perceived trust they enjoy with prospects.
How many of your prospects and clients ever come into your office? For most companies in the B2B space it’s only a handful. What about your online presence? The answer is that virtually every one of your prospects and clients will come to your website and social media properties.
Sadly, for most companies their online presence is an afterthought. They build a website and then leave it alone for 3 years. Or, they sign up for social media but don’t keep it updated. On the most basic level, maintaining these properties is like mowing the grass (or shoveling the snow for my Minnesota friends). You wouldn’t consider not maintaining your physical property. Why would you not maintain your online presence? Failure to do this hurts trust and costs money.
Beyond maintaining your website, you need to think about how you can build trust as a company. Similar to the questions for sales reps above, look at your company through the eyes of a prospect:
- Insight: Does your website provide insight, demonstrating that you understand client problems and provide solutions that make a difference? Are there helpful articles and resources? Are these current? Do you have real-world case studies that demonstrate how you’ve helped other organizations? Or, is your website simply a corporate brag book with little substance?
- Integrity: Do you have references from current clients on your website? Can I find references on platforms like Google or Facebook? Is there a guarantee?
- Image: Do you look like a cutting edge technology company or does it look like your brand was created in Microsoft Publisher using Times Roman fonts back in 1998? Is your website designed with the latest mobile-first standards?
Once again, don’t get me wrong here. It’s not only about image, companies need to be trustworthy. However, every day I talk with outstanding companies who have great products, partners, and team members yet their company looks anything but trustworthy if you look through the online lens.
Improving Your Image
What can you do to build a trustworthy image? This is a question sales professionals and companies should ask on a regular basis. Take small steps each month to improve your image. If you are that trustworthy person or company make sure to communicate it. It would be a shame if you did all that hard work and still lost business because you didn’t look trustworthy to your prospects.