In the past year, we’ve seen the negative impact of fake news, the media, and Facebook’s data issues. Through this consumer lens, it’s no wonder organizations are finding it difficult to build trust and so easy for them to lose it.
For many B2B organizations, developing long-term trust can be a major challenge. According to a study done by Ipsos, only 22% of brands are trusted, meaning organizations can’t approach their ideal customers with company-centric messaging anymore. To build trust, both marketing and sales have to align and ensure their customer is at the forefront of their strategy.
Today, buyers are more empowered than ever with access to information at the tip of their fingers. This easy access to information whenever and wherever has provided buyers with the ability to make more informed purchase decisions. As marketers, how can we build trust with our buyers?
Why Buyers Don’t Trust Sales and Marketing
The perception many customers have of salespeople is quite negative – someone who is trying to always sell them something. This is for a variety of reasons such as having a seller-centric agenda, high-pressure tactics, and not understanding the customer’s challenges.
Buyers are empowered with insights. According to an Accenture study, 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research during the buying process. With access to information such as peer-to-peer reviews, research reports, and datasheets, buyers seek insights beyond what they already know. They want to know how you as a salesperson can help solve their specific business challenges. Buyers want to know they can trust you and that you have their company at the forefront of their decision.
Harvard Business Review found that only 18% of the salespeople that buyers met over the past year were classified as trusted advisors. Buyers don’t want to be sold. Instead, buyers want a strategic partner who can align with their objectives, has a deep understanding of their business and can guide them from challenge to the solution.
It’s more important than ever for salespeople to build and maintain trust beyond just being sold a product.
Trusting Your Peer-to-Peer Connections
Who can buyers trust? Their own personal networks like friends, colleagues, and peers.
People trust their own peer-to-peer relationships especially in B2B, where every buying decision can be impacted by different touchpoints. This is where social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook step in to influence the purchase process.
According to IDC, 75% of B2B buyers use social media to research vendors. Buying decisions in B2B are complex and sometimes even risky. To increase the trust in making decisions, executives are leveraging their professional networks to help guide them. Social media simply makes the process much more efficient. Creating quality, value-add content that can be shared out on through other’s social media provides a way to establish trust and thought leadership without coming across as sales-y. Answer questions on Twitter or jumping on and thoughtfully answering a help forum question also provides a way to establish yourself as a trusted peer and not ‘just another sales guy.’
Trust Through Content
Over the past decade, as people started to use the world wide web more and more as a source of information, inbound marketing cemented its stance as a marketing approach.
The core of inbound marketing is fairly simple, it’s to give as much value as possible to your audience, most of the time in the form of content. As HubSpot puts it “by creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, you attract qualified prospects and build trust and credibility for your business.”
By providing helpful content, companies can also build trust by providing as much value as possible. Many buyers seek out experts to shortcut their learning curve and ultimately shortcut their path from problem to solution. When your ideal customer does find your content and acknowledges that it does help with their problems then your organization can establish itself as a trusted advisor, expert and thought leader.
Consistently educating your ideal customers with the right content and after they’ve read a few of your whitepapers, blogs and/or attended your webinars, you’ve then established trust. They now know who you are and have essentially been “pre-sold” to a conversation with you.
Before hitting the “sell, sell, sell” button with ideal customers, the first step is to establish trust through content. Your organization and your people can do this by consistently sharing content to the medium in which your buyers are on. Whether it’s through email, social media or in-person, the first step is to consistently share content. Regardless if it’s a three-minute branded video or a third-party Podcast. The best way to be top-of-mind is to establish trust through content.
When Building Trust Humanizing Your Brand Matters
Recently, Edelman released their annual Trust Barometer, which mentioned: “Human interaction is most highly coveted. Thirty-one percent of respondents said it was most important to interact with a real person when getting investment advice.”
What most B2B companies have figured out is that their own employees have the ability to proliferate branded content in an authentic manner. By leveraging the collective social power of their employees’ connections, brands can build trust and humanize themselves in the eyes of their future customers. Regardless of your industry, whether it’s Financial Services or Technology, peer-to-peer relationships matter in how you make decisions.
Trust is fundamental because without it the bridge between seller and customer is broken. Consumer’s need to trust that the product or service they are buying is going to deliver on expectations. Edelman also emphasized, when establishing trust in human relationships are a driving force. Marketing and Sales need to provide more than just a sales pitch, they need to provide value and establish trust because, without trust, you’re simply viewed as just another brand vying for attention.
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