Article 360° Buyer Alignment
Selling through building trust
How can you create and build trust, aligned to each step in the buying cycles of those involved?
The name of the game: provide relevant and value-adding messaging in every customer contact moment.
It almost sounds like a slogan but today, even more than before, it is the challenge for sales people.
How do you create trust during brief, and especially during digital, contact moments?
You can approach trust from many angles. Trust that you deliver what you promise, trust in your competences, or in you as a person or the team, …
This quickly brings us to the personal connection one makes during (customer) interactions. Why do certain people manage to gain trust faster than others? Or why do you make a personal connection with certain people more easily or more quickly?
There are various models that provide a framework for gaining insights into someone’s (preferred) behavior and for adapting your behavior and communication to the people you are in contact with (Insights, Social Styles, MBTI, DISC,…). Maximizing trust in today’s market means combining authenticity with the right message at the right time, to accelerate the effect of a good personal connection.
Over the past decades, neuroscience has explored how to map the parts of the brain that play a role in decision making, which parts light up when different emotions are felt and what connections can be made with trust. It is a fascinating and still evolving scientific discipline.
One thing we know for sure is that the salesperson who works primarily on the relational aspect is coming under increasing pressure. Time pressure, conflicting priorities and more choice are creating a dynamic where the purely relational is no longer enough to ‘spend time with a salesperson’.
Sales people who can detect the willingness to buy of the various stakeholders during the buying cycle can add the right relevance and are able to build trust more quickly. They ask themselves questions such as:
- How do I create trust among all those involved, taking into account the diversity of roles, expectations, personalities, buying cycle phases, etc.?
- How do I align my interactions, tailor my sales messages and bring value so that stakeholders recognize me as the first person to contact for genuine and relevant answers to their questions.
Building trust with each stakeholder in a buying cycle is only possible if you can add the right relevance and adapt this to the different personalities and the willingness to buy.
Stephen M.R. Covey’s book “The speed of Trust” is a great book to deepen your understanding of how to build trust quickly.
Buyer alignment – buyer center coverage
In the previous sections, we talked about building trust through personal connection and relevance, tailored to the people involved. One of the challenges that every sales person experiences, regardless of whether you work in project-based sales or more recurring sales, is broadening your network with your customers.
A lot of opportunities are lost or stagnate because of lack of contact with and insight into all the parties involved who influence the decision. Because people now inform themselves more and more via digital means, a large part of the influencing of decisions happens outside the reach of the sales person. This is a major risk if the sales person continues to sell via a ‘sponsor’ instead of managing and developing as many relationships as possible in parallel.
Let’s take a side step:
LinkedIn published an article at the end of October 2021: “The Great Reshuffle is Making Selling Hard. Here’s How to Best Adjust.”
The article indicates that we are in the midst of the “Great Reshuffle” of talent. Globally, job rotations have increased by 28% in the last three months. Corporate director-level job turnover – i.e. the mass of B2B buyers – has risen by 31% globally over the last three months.
No wonder a recent survey found that 80% of salespeople have delayed or lost a deal because of a change in function within an account. It is difficult to sell to a moving target.
The blog also rightly highlights the positive side of function or job changes of buyers: this can also be your entry point into a new customer if you had built up a good relationship with the buyer in question.
When a new buyer comes in, LinkedIn states that the salesperson must align the solution with the customers’ strategic initiatives and demonstrate its value.
The following paragraphs from the blog reinforce this:
If you are doing this well, then you can be an asset to a new executive sponsor and help them get up to speed on the critical initiatives your solution supports.
In this environment, the gap between strategic partners and expendable vendors is growing. The difference is value delivered at the right level and time.
It also means giving them the tools and training to be effective in virtual selling. After all, nothing builds morale quicker than success. And the right tools and training play a big part in that.
The LinkedIn article nicely illustrates how job rotation can have a huge impact on the buying process both within sales teams and with buyers. In addition, the blog points to the importance of broadening relationships within a customer to accommodate this and why you can be successful when the right value is delivered at the right time.
The 3 must do’s for who wants to sell with confidence
- Broaden your network with the right relevant contact moments and messaging.
- Take into account the different personalities and, when applicable, the possibility that buying cycles may be (evolving) different for each person.
- Rotation in your team and with the customer can be a danger. Those who tackle this proactively can turn it into an advantage.